Located in the northeastern part of Florida, Jacksonville ranks as the state's most populous city. Its reputation is built on its favorable climate, stunning beaches, and a thriving maritime industry. Jacksonville is also a popular destination for recreational boating, with a wealth of marinas, boat ramps, and extensive waterways offering access to diverse fishing spots, coastlines, and recreational areas. Regulatory oversight for boating operations comes from multiple authorities, including the USCG and the FWC.
It's important for every operator on GetMyBoat to strictly adhere to local regulations and take full responsibility for compliance. This includes obtaining all required registrations and permits, and ensuring compliance with all vessel and captain requirements. Operators must also follow local laws and facility regulations by using designated docks and approved areas for commercial activities. To aid you in this process, we've compiled essential information for boating in Jacksonville, FL.
Boating Safety Education Card:
Individuals aged 18 years or older who plan to operate a watercraft equipped with a 10-horsepower engine or greater within Florida's waters are required to hold a Boating Safety Card.
In order to ensure passenger safety, safeguard your business, and maintain legal compliance while operating a boat rental service, securing the appropriate insurance is imperative. For expert guidance on the necessary coverage, please don't hesitate to contact our partner, BCI.
The Florida Boating Safety Act of 2022 (SB 606):
As of January 1, 2023, the Florida Boating Safety Act of 2022 (SB 606) has been enacted to elevate safety standards on Florida's water routes This is accomplished through the imposition of more stringent penalties for infractions, the stipulation of permits for boat rental entities, and the introduction of fresh safety directives for boat rental businesses.
Each boat captain must possess an appropriate U.S. Coast Guard license corresponding to the type of vessel they command. Vessels designed for up to six passengers mandate a 6-pack license, while those catering to more than six passengers demand a Master Captain's license. Captains bear the responsibility of guaranteeing the secure operation of their charter vessels and the welfare of all individuals on board. For in-depth details concerning captain's licenses, we recommend visiting the Mariners Learning System website.
Vessel Titling and Registration:
In order to finalize the registration for your boat, you have the option to visit either your regional county tax collector's office or an accredited plate agent. Validation of your boat's ownership can be established by providing a bill of sale, builder's contract, manufacturer's documentation, federal marine document, or an officially recognized alternative verification form. Should your boat necessitate titling, it is imperative to complete the titling procedure before advancing with the registration. For further information, please don't hesitate to contact Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Florida Fish and Wildlife:
Before you can offer paid sea fishing excursions and charge customers, a specialized license, known as a Charter Captain License or Boat License, is a prerequisite. In Florida, overseeing saltwater fishing activities mandates adherence to U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Those operating boats for hire must possess a Captain's license or a Merchant Mariner Credential.
A Charter Captain License affords certified captains the flexibility to work on various vessels. To obtain this license, a valid Coast Guard License for operating passenger-carrying vessels is essential. Additionally, any boat used by a charter captain for commercial purposes must either be registered for commercial use or hold a specific certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard authorizing it for such operations.
Conversely, Charter Boat Licenses are boat-specific and only valid for the designated vessel. These licenses are applicable to boats primarily used for commercial ventures. To obtain this license, you must demonstrate that the boat is either registered for commercial use or has a specialized certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard allowing it to engage in commercial activities
To acquire an FWC Charter Captain license, holding a Coast Guard Captain's license is a prerequisite. For information regarding the Coast Guard Captain's license, please contact 1-888-427-5662 or refer to the USCG website for comprehensive details about charter boat captain requirements.
Passenger Pick Up/ Drop Off:
Many locations permit boat drop-offs and pickups for rentals, and here are a couple with designated passenger areas. Prior to your arrangements, make sure to confirm the pickup and drop-off policies with the marina or dock.
- Wayne B. Stevens Boat Ramp: Located at 4555 Ortega Farms Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32210.
- Goodby's Creek Boat Ramp: Located at 9020 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32257.
- Curtis Lee Johnson Boat Ramp: Located at 5434 San Juan Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32210.
Additional details to consider:
- Your boat must undergo inspection and certification by the FWC.
- You need a business license from the City of Jacksonville, obtainable through the City Clerk's Office.
- Party boats are restricted from operating within 150 feet of marinas, boat ramps, boatyards, or other vessel launching facilities.
- Essential safety equipment is required on all boats: a personal flotation device for each person, an accessible throwable PFD for overboard situations, a noise-emitting device, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit.
- Commercial vessels need to undergo annual inspections by the City of Jacksonville.
- To avoid penalties in specific state waters, boat operators should keep a safe distance from seagrass beds.
- Laws strictly forbid any harm or disturbance to marine animals, particularly manatees, with severe consequences for any violations. It's essential to steer clear of designated manatee protection zones when boating.
For more information on commercial boat regulations please visit the City of Jacksonville online.