For-Hire Vessel Operator Licensing Program
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About the Program
Power vessel operators carrying four or more passengers for-hire (any type of compensation) on non-navigable waters (waters which cannot be navigated to the sea or to another state) are required to obtain and maintain a valid For-Hire Vessel Operator's License.
Vessel operators carrying passengers on navigable waters (waters under Federal jurisdiction) are required to obtain and maintain a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License.
- Individuals with a valid United States Coast Guard Captain's License may obtain a For-Hire Vessel Operator's License without further examination.
- They will need to submit a For-Hire Vessel Operator's License application and a copy of their United States Coast Guard Captain's License.
- For-hire licenses are effective for 5 years.
- To renew, licensees must submit an application and a current medical examination report.
To obtain a For-Hire Vessel Operator's License, the following requirements must be met:
- Must be 18 years old
- Must have at least one year's experience operating the type of boat on type of water for which the license is requested (other experience or training may be substituted)
- Must be in good physical condition in order to provide for safe operation of a vessel
- Must possess adequate knowledge and maintain the skills necessary for safe operation of a passenger vessel. Written and practical (on-the-water) exams are given
You must submit the following completed forms:
- Cover Sheet
- For-Hire License Application
- Medical Examination Report
- (3) Statement of Boat Handling Ability and Moral Character forms
- *The application forms and study materials may be downloaded or can be sent to you upon request.
Original copies of completed documents are to be sent to:
Department of Parks and Recreation
Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW)
For-Hire Vessel Operator Licensing
P.O. Box 94286
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
Frequently Asked Questions
• Applicants must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
• Applicants must have at least one year's experience in operating the type of boat on the type of water for which the license is requested. In certain cases, other experience or training may be substituted.
• Applicants must be in good physical condition in order to provide for safe operation of a vessel.
• Applicants must possess adequate knowledge and have the skill necessary for safe operation of a passenger vessel. Written and practical (on-the water) examinations are given.
* Note: If you have a valid Coast Guard Motorboat Operator's License, you may be issued a State license without further examination, including a waiver of the Medical Report. It will be necessary for the Coast Guard license or a copy to be reviewed by the Division before a State license can be issued.