Basic Facts - For-Hire Vessel Operators License

Division of Boating and Waterways
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, California
95814
(916) 327-1838

BASIC FACTS
FOR-HIRE VESSEL OPERATOR'S LICENSE PROGRAM

Who must be licensed under the law?

The law applies only to operators of powered vessels carrying four or more passengers for money or other consideration on California waters not under Federal jurisdiction. Water skiers being towed are considered as passengers.

What California waters are NOT under federal jurisdiction?

Waters not considered under Federal jurisdiction are those which cannot be navigated to the sea or to another state. Examples are: Salton Sea, Clear Lake, Lake Shasta, and rivers flowing into Lake Shasta.

What are the requirements to obtain a license?

  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old.
  • Have 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.
  • Good physical condition.
  • Adequate knowledge and skills 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.

How do I apply for a license?

Submit your application to DBW. The application forms and study materials will be sent to you free upon request.

Is there a fee for the license?

There is no fee for the license. DBW will process your application, administer the written and practical examinations, review your medical report, and issue the license at no cost to you. You are responsible for obtaining the medical examination and may be required to pay a fee for that service.

Can any doctor give the medical examination?

Any licensed physician may give the medical examination; however, the report must be made on DBW's form and obtained at your expense.

Where do I take the written examination?

The written examination is usually administered on the same day as the practical examination. When your license application is processed, you will be called and a mutually agreeable date and location will be selected.

How long is the license effective and how do I renew it?

The license is effective for five years. To renew, you must submit an application, certification of your experience for the last five years, and a current medical examination report. You will not be required, usually, to again take the written or practical examination for purposes of a renewal only. Forms needed to renew a license are available through the

Division of Boating and Waterways
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, California
95814

(916) 327-1838