Rhode Island Regulatory Guide

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) regulates boating to prioritize safety and environmental conservation. They enforce rules on boat registrations, safety equipment, and speed limits while actively promoting responsible boating practices through education. The DEM's efforts aim to maintain a safe and sustainable boating environment while preserving Rhode Island's diverse aquatic ecosystems. On this page, we navigate you through everything you need to have in place in order to ensure that your boat rental business is compliant with Rhode Island's regulations, along with some other important things to keep in mind.

Boxes you need to tick

These are requirements as defined by law:

License Requirement

Persons born on or after January 1, 1986 must have successfully completed a boating education program.

No person born on or after January 1, 1986 shall operate a vessel that is fitted with propulsion machinery of more than ten (10) horsepower on the waters of this state unless the person shall have successfully completed a boating safety education program as approved by the director of the department of environmental management.

Record Requirement

The owner of a boat livery shall cause to be kept a record of the name and address of the person or persons hiring any vessel.

The owner of a boat livery shall cause to be kept a record of the name and address of the person or persons hiring any vessel which is designed or permitted by him or her to be operated as a motorboat; the identification number thereof; and the departure date and time, and the expected time of return. The record shall be preserved for at least six (6) months.

Registration Requirement

All vessels are required to register with the state unless exempted.

Registration is required on all vessels except:

(i) Non-motorized rowboats less than 12ft

(ii) Canoes and kayaks (without motors)

(iii) A ship’s lifeboat

(iv) Boats exclusively used for racing

(v) Houseboats

(vi) Ferries

(vii) Vessels registered from another state in RI waters less than 90 days

Outboard engines must also be registered.

This is a one-time registration that does not expire. Documented vessels are not exempt. The documentation number will become your registration number. Unregistered vessels are subject to property tax.


Party and charter boat operators must have a party and charter boat license, respectively.

Required Video

Safety video required for renters without boat safety certification.

Keep in mind when renting out boats


No items found.

Not required

List of Passengers
Livery Definition
Rental Agreement

The information provided is intended to be general and informative, and should not be interpreted as regulatory, legal, or insurance advice. It does not constitute professional advice from a licensed insurance agent and does not establish an attorney-client or insurer-insured relationship. This information should not replace the counsel of a qualified legal, regulatory, or insurance professional. Always consult with a qualified professional for legal, regulatory, or insurance advice pertaining to your specific circumstances.

Boat Rental Accident Reporting

Rhode Island boating accident report must be filled out by the owner/operator of any vessel that is involved in a boating accident on the inland waters and the coastal waters contiguous to this state that meets the following criteria:

  1. Loss of life or disappearance from a vessel.
  2. Injury to any person that requires medical treatment beyond ordinary first aid. (if you go to the emergency room or call a rescue, it is beyond first aid)
  3. Property damage in excess of $2000.00 (combined damage to both vessels if more than one vessel is involved)
  4. Complete loss of a vessel.

Reportable accidents must be submitted within five (5) days after the incident on forms provided by the department. Accidents must be reported to the State Authorities where the accident occurred. If more than one vessel is involved, the owner/operator of all vessels must fill out and file a boating accident report. When filling out a boating accident report, ensure that all of the blocks are filled out completely.

Report Accident

Federal Regulation

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) regularly provides updates on recentchanges in regulation and have overviews of specific requirements for boatrental companies

Buoy is your one-stop shop for compliance & insurance

Buoy provides boat rental companies with peace of mind while saving time and money. When using Buoy’s insurance solution, we will help you get fully compliant free of charge.

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