Panama City Beach, is famous for its pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a wealth of water-based activities, with boating being a central and great way to see the Gulf of Mexico, St. Andrews Bay, and the Intracoastal Waterway.
All GetMyBoat operators must strictly follow local regulations, including obtaining required permits, adhering to vessel and captain criteria, and using designated areas for commercial boating. Here is essential information for boating in Panama City Beach.
Each captain must possess a valid U.S. Coast Guard license and provide a copy for validation by the Commission. Boats with a capacity of six or fewer passengers require a 6-pack license, while those accommodating more than six passengers must obtain a Master's Captain's license. Each captain bears full responsibility for the safe operation of the charter vessel and the welfare of all individuals on board. Further details on how to obtain this license can be found through Mariners Learning System.
Boating Safety Education Card:
A Boating Safety Card is mandatory for individuals born on or after January 1, 1988, who intend to operate a boat in Florida waters equipped with a 10-horsepower or greater engine. More information can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) website.
The Florida Boating Safety Act of 2022 (SB 606):
The Florida Boating Safety Act of 2022 (SB 606), which came into effect on January 1, 2023, aims to improve safety on Florida's waterways. It accomplishes this goal by imposing stricter penalties for violations, requiring boat rental operators to obtain permits, and implementing new safety regulations for businesses that rent out boats.
To ensure the safety of passengers, safeguard your business, and adhere to legal obligations while running a boat rental service, it is essential to have the appropriate insurance coverage. For guidance on the necessary coverage, please contact our partner, Boat Charter Insurance.
Vessel Titling and Registration:
To register your boat, you should visit the official county tax collector or a license plate agent. To establish ownership of the boat, you can submit a bill of sale, a builder's contract, a manufacturer's document, a federal marine document, or another approved form of documentation. If your boat is required to have a title, it must be obtained before proceeding with the registration process. Additional details can be accessed through the FLHSMV .
Passenger Pick Up/ Drop Off:
Several locations provide specific passenger zones for both boat drop-offs and pickups for rental purposes. Before completing your plans, be sure to directly verify the pickup and drop-off policies with the marina or dock.
- Safari Boat Ramp: Located at 3905 Safari St, Panama City Beach, FL 32408.
- Pretty Bayou boat ramp: Located at 3721 Shoreline Cir, Panama City, FL 32405
Florida Fish and Wildlife:
Before you can offer paid sea fishing excursions, you must obtain a specific license known as a Charter Captain or Boat License. In Florida, guiding individuals for saltwater fishing necessitates adherence to regulations established by the U.S. Coast Guard. Anyone operating a boat for hire must possess a Captain's license or a Merchant Mariner Credential.
A Charter Captain License allows a certified captain to work on various boats. To acquire this license, a valid Coast Guard License for operating vessels with passengers is required. Additionally, any boat used by a charter captain for commercial purposes must either be registered for commercial use or possess a special certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard, confirming its suitability for commercial use.
Charter Boat Licenses are specific to individual boats and are valid solely for the designated vessel. These licenses are applicable to boats engaged in commercial activities. To obtain one, you must demonstrate that the boat is registered for commercial use or holds a special certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard authorizing its use for business purposes.
For the purchase of an FWC Charter Captain license, you must hold a Coast Guard Captain's license. For information regarding the Coast Guard Captain's license, you can contact 1-888-427-5662. Detailed information about USCG charter boat captain requirements can also be found on the USCG website.
- A valid Coast Guard certificate of inspection is required for commercial vessels.
- Proper safety equipment, including life jackets, fire extinguishers, and flares, must be on board vessels.
- Excessive noise is not permitted on commercial vessels.
- Operating a commercial vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.
- The discharge of any waste materials, such as sewage, bilge water, and trash, into city waters is strictly prohibited.
- Commercial vessels are restricted from operating within 300 feet of the shoreline, except when entering or leaving a harbor or marina.
- Boat operators should familiarize themselves with the Panama City Beach Code of Ordinances for additional regulations on commercial boating.
Please note that Panama City Beach has restrictions on several boat ramps. Before using them, it's advisable to verify the current regulations, as some may require a permit.
You may require additional permits, including the Beach Vendor Permit, Florida Marine License, and a Panama City Beach business license, with the specific permits needed varying based on the types of boats you intend to rent and the activities you plan to offer.
For additional details on commercial operations, please reach out to the Bay County office at (850) 248-8140.