Lake Tahoe is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, clear blue waters, and surrounding alpine landscapes. It straddles the border between California and Nevada, with the majority of its shoreline in California. The lake is known for its exceptional water clarity, with visibility reaching depths of around 70 feet or more. Because of this, there are certain rules and regulations that boat operators must familiarize themselves with in order to navigate Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Permit Requirements

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is a bi-state environmental planning and permitting agency that enforces policies and permit requirements for certain activities on Lake Tahoe and the Shoreline. A new Shoreline Plan was adopted in 2018 which revised relevant TRPA regulations. Specific to water-oriented outdoor recreation concessions, a TRPA permit is required including for motorized watercraft rental operations. Obtaining a permit for motorized watercraft rental operations requires the business operator to submit one of two applications, depending if a marina will be used for business operations. 

Within Marinas

Concessions involving motorized watercraft established on September 1, 2017, or later must operate exclusively within a marina and apply for a permit under the marina’s permit.

Outside Marinas 

Only concessions that were operational before September 1, 2017, may submit an application to operate outside a marina. All motorized watercraft concessions must adhere to fueling best management practices. Concessions that operate beyond the confines of a marina may be permitted as an accessory to a shoreline property that has been verified as having commercial or public primary use. 

Prohibited Concessions 

  • Concessions operating from any private property without a commercial primary use. 
  • Concessions operating without the consent of the commercial or public landowner. 
  • Concessions that utilize motorized watercraft and that began operating at a commercial or public facility after September 1, 2017.

Here’s a link to TRPA’s Shoreline applications and forms. You will find the Shoreline and Marina Project Applications, along with helpful documents and explanations of necessary information.

Please reach out to our contact at TRPA, Zach Davis, to further assist with which sections of the TRPA Code of Ordinances are applicable to your business.

Zach Davis

Assistant Environmental Specialist

Permitting and Compliance Department

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

(775) 589-5249 ·

Operating a vessel

Boaters from the Nevada side should be aware that those born in 1983 or later are required to complete a boater education course approved by the Nevada Department of Wildlife before operating a boat on Nevada’s interstate waters. On the California side, resident boaters who are 35 years or younger operating a craft on interstate waters such as Tahoe need to have their California Boater Card.

Nevada Boater Education Card

California Boater Education Card

Should you have questions regarding the appropriate choice of captain options for your needs, we encourage you to consult our support article. Within this resource, you will discover the essential USCG prerequisites and licenses essential for operational purposes.

Selecting the correct captain option for your listing

To obtain a USCG captain license you can reach out to our partner Mariners Learning System.  Use the promo code GETMYBOAT10 for 10% off all products.


Commercial insurance is required for both captained and bareboat charters to legally operate within Lake Tahoe. Our official partner for boat insurance, Boat Charter Insurance, is available to help you acquire the necessary commercial insurance coverage. Feel free to contact them for assistance in securing the appropriate insurance for your charter operations.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

There are harmful aquatic invasive species threatening Lake Tahoe and all waters throughout the Western U.S. All watercraft entering the waters of the Lake Tahoe Region are subject to mandatory AIS inspections by TRPA and its partners and payment of fees or purchasing an annual Tahoe AIS sticker. Vessels already launched in Lake Tahoe have already been inspected and/or decontaminated. Lake Tahoe watercraft inspection information is here

The Nevada AIS decal is also required on Nevada-registered Lake Tahoe vessels. These decals are to be purchased annually and are for both motorized and non-motorized vessels that can hold water that enters Nevada waters. California-registered watercraft are not required to purchase the Nevada AIS decal when using Lake Tahoe. Here is where you can obtain the Nevada decal. 

New Zealand Mudsnail Alert

A new invasive species, the New Zealand mudsnail, was detected in Lake Tahoe in September 2023. New recommendations and boat operation protocols while on the lake are now available to prevent the spread of the New Zealand mudsnail to unaffected regions of the lake. Protecting the waters that we all enjoy takes everyone working together and following all guidelines and requirements. 

For titling and register support, you can visit these pages:

California Boat/Vessel Registration

Nevada Apply and Buy Boat Titling and Registration