Washington Regulatory Guide

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office regulates boating, prioritizing safety and environmental preservation. They enforce rules on boat registrations, safety equipment, and speed limits while actively promoting responsible boating practices through education. The office aims to maintain a secure and sustainable boating environment, preserving Washington state'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 Washington’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

Persons must be at least 12 years old to operate a motorboat. Persons must be at least 14 years old to operate a personal watercraft.

License Requirement

Persons born after January 1, 1955 must have a boater education card.

Any person at least twelve years old renting, chartering, or leasing a motor-driven boat or vessel with an engine power of fifteen horsepower or greater who completes a commission-approved motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist each time before operating the motor-driven boat or vessel, except that an operator of a personal watercraft shall comply with the age requirements, are exempt from needing a boater education card.

Safety Checklist

Renters must review the motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist.

No person shall permit the rental, charter, or lease of a motor-driven boat or vessel with an engine power of fifteen horsepower or greater to a person without first reviewing with that person, and all other persons who may be permitted by the person to operate the vessel, all the information contained in the motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist.

Rental Agreement

You must provide a copy of the rental agreement to be kept aboard the rental boat during the rental.

Rental motor vessel business operators must provide a copy of the rental agreement to be kept aboard during the rental, lease, charter, or use period for vessels required to be registered.

Keep in mind when renting out boats


Livery Definition
Charter Boat Definition
Charter Boat Inspections

Not required

No items found.

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

Washington state law requires the recreational vessel operator involved in an accident to file when loss of life occurs, injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, someone disappears and they may be injured or deceased or property damage of more than $2,000.

If there is an injury, disappearance or death, a report must be submitted within 48 hours. Reports in other accidents must be submitted within 10 days. If the operator cannot submit the report, the owner of the vessel is responsible.

Reports must be submitted to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the accident occurred. If you are not sure what agency has the authority, contact the Washington State Boating program by email ( or call (360) 902-8555.

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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