Sarasota, a coastal Florida city on the Gulf of Mexico, is renowned for its beaches, arts, and favorable climate. With its extensive waterways, boating is a popular pastime. Various types of vessels are used, and the Sarasota County Marine Patrol Division ensures the safety and assistance of commercial boating.

GetMyBoat operators must comply with local regulations, including obtaining necessary registrations, permits, and adhering to vessel and captain requirements, designated docking areas, and other legal requirements. To assist, we've compiled important information for boating in Sarasota, FL.

Boating Safety Education Card:

For those born on or after January 1, 1988, who plan to operate a boat in Florida waters with an engine of 10 horsepower or more, a Boating Safety Card is obligatory. Further details 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), effective as of January 1, 2023, is aimed at enhancing safety on Florida's waterways. It achieves this objective by imposing stricter penalties for infractions, mandating permits for boat rental operators, and introducing new safety regulations for businesses involved in boat rentals.

Captain's License:

Every captain is required to possess a valid U.S. Coast Guard license and furnish a copy for validation by the Commission. Vessels with a capacity of six or fewer passengers must hold a 6-pack license, while those accommodating more than six passengers need a Master's Captain's license. Each captain assumes full responsibility for the safe operation of the charter vessel and the well-being of all individuals on board. Additional information on how to obtain this license can be available through Mariners Learning System & USCG


To ensure the safety of passengers, protect your business, and meet legal requirements while operating a boat rental service, it is vital to have the appropriate insurance coverage. For guidance on the necessary coverage, please get in touch with our partner, Boat Charter Insurance.

Vessel Titling and Registration:

To register your boat, visit the official county tax collector or a license plate agent. To establish ownership of the vessel, you may 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 requires a title, it must be obtained before proceeding with the registration process. Further information is available through the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles .

Passenger Pick Up/ Drop Off:

Numerous sites offer designated passenger areas for boat drop-offs and pickups for rentals. Before finalizing your arrangements, make sure to confirm the pickup and drop-off policies directly with the marina or dock.

  • Centennial Park: Located at 1105 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota FL 34236.
  • Ken Thompson Boat Ramp: Located at 1708 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236.
  • Turtle Beach Public Boat Ramp: Located at 8701 Blind Pass Rd.

Florida Fish and Wildlife:

Before offering paid saltwater fishing excursions, you must obtain a specific license known as a Charter Captain or Boat License. In Florida, guiding individuals for saltwater fishing requires compliance with regulations set by the U.S. Coast Guard. Anyone operating a boat for hire must hold either a Captain's license or a Merchant Mariner Credential.

A Charter Captain License permits a certified captain to work on various boats, necessitating a valid Coast Guard License for passenger-carrying vessels. Furthermore, 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 operations.

Charter Boat Licenses are specific to individual vessels and are valid only for the designated boat. These licenses apply to boats engaged in commercial activities. To obtain one, you must demonstrate that the vessel is registered for commercial use or holds a special certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard authorizing its use for business purposes.

To acquire 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 reach out to 1-888-427-5662. Detailed information about USCG charter boat captain requirements can also be found on the USCG website.

Additional Information:

  • Boats need to pass inspection and gain certification from the USCG or a state-approved inspection agency.
  • Boats must carry essential safety equipment like life jackets, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits.
  • For-hire boat operators in Sarasota County are required to acquire a business license from the Sarasota County Tax Collector.
  • Operators must offer passengers a safety briefing before each voyage.
  • With the exception of designated areas approved by the county commission, commercial boats cannot operate within 300 feet of the Gulf of Mexico county's shoreline.
  • Operators must maintain a trip logbook, documenting passenger count, travel route, and weather conditions.
  • Commercial boat tours must comply with a permit issued by the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Operating a commercial vessel is strictly prohibited for individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Commercial vessels can only be launched from city-provided marinas or designated boat ramps in Sarasota, and not from any public property.