Virginia Regulatory Guide

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) regulates boating for safety and environmental conservation. They enforce rules on boat registrations, safety equipment, and speed limits while actively promoting responsible boating practices through education. The DWR aims to create a secure and sustainable boating environment, preserving Virginia'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 Virginia’s regulations, along with some other important things to keep in mind.

Boxes you need to tick

These are requirements as defined by law:

Age Requirement

No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft.

License Requirement

All personal watercraft operators age 14 and older, and all operators (regardless of age) of motorboats with a 10 hp or greater engine, must take a boating safety course.

Safety Checklist

You must provide the rental/lease boat operator with a dockside safety checklist.

Any person, business, or organization that provides a motorboat with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater or personal watercraft for rent or lease shall provide the rental/lease boat operator with a dockside safety checklist provided by the department.

Rental Agreement

Rental or lease agreement shall be retained on board the boat being rented or leased when the boat is being operated.

The dockside safety checklist for the authorized operator(s) shall be retained on board the boat being rented or leased, along with the rental or lease agreement from the motorboat rental or leasing business, when the boat is being operated.

Registration Requirement

If the motorboat is principally used on the public waters of Virginia it must be registered and titled in Virginia

Keep in mind when renting out boats


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Livery Definition
Video Documentation
List of Passengers

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

A formal, written report must be filed with DWR when there is:

  • damage over $2000 by or to the vessel or its equipment;
  • injury (requiring medical help beyond first aid) or loss of life; and/or
  • disappearance of any person on board a vessel.

Reports must be filed within the following time frames from the boating accident:

  • 48 hours if there is loss of life within 24 hours of the accident;
  • 48 hours if a person involved is injured and cannot perform usual activities;
  • 48 hours if a person disappears;
  • 10 days if an earlier report is not required but becomes necessary; and/or
  • 10 days if the boat or property damage is in excess of $2000 or total boat loss.

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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