Special Requirements for Passenger Vessels

Vessels carrying passengers for-hire must meet more stringent requirements than a vessel used solely for recreational purposes. These requirements are designed to provide an added measure of protection for the public and are mentioned here only as a guideline. It is suggested that any vessel used for passenger service be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard to insure compliance with these and other requirements.

The requirements include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • PFD's (personal flotation devices) and ring buoys
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Ventilation of engine and/or fuel compartments
  • Heating and Cooking fuels
  • Insurance


  • All PFD's must be Type I (life preserver), of an appropriate size for each person carried.
  • An approved commercial hybrid PFD (inflatable) may be substituted for a Type I only if it is:
    1. Worn when the vessel is underway and the intended wearer is not within an enclosed space.
    2. Used in accordance with the conditions marked on the PFD and in the owner's manual.
    3. Labeled for use on inspected commercial vessels.

  • They must be readily accessible.
  • They must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and in good condition.
  • Unless the passenger service is such that children are never carried, their must be enough child-size PFD's to equal 10% of the total number of persons carried.
  • Children's size PFD's must be stowed separately.
  • All the PFD's must be marked with the vessel's name.
  • If the PFD's are stowed where they cannot be seen their stowage containers must be clearly marked "LIFE PRESERVERS" and indicate the number and size stowed.
  • The PFD's must have retroreflective material attached on the front and back, both inside and outside. The requirement is that each side must have 31-square inches. This equals four 4"x4" squares on each side. (See Figure #1)
  • Each For-Hire vessel 26-feet in length or longer must carry a ring life buoy 20-inches or larger and it must be immediately available while under way.
  • Each For-Hire vessel less than 26-feet in length may carry any Type IV (throwable) in lieu of the ring life buoy referred to above.


(See text under PFD's and Ring Buoys above)

Eight 4"x4" squares
Four inside and Four outside

Lifejacket draw up


Any vessel carrying passenger's for-hire must carry fire extinguishers even if the vessel is less than 26-feet in length propelled by outboard motors, and has no closed compartments.

Carbon Tetrachloride and other toxic vaporizing liquid fire extinguishers may never be carried aboard a vessel carrying passengers for-hire.


If the passenger-carrying vessel is gasoline powered and has any enclosed engine or fuel compartments, it must have a mechanical blower with the blower switch located outside the compartment to be vented.

The blower switch must be interlocked with the ignition so that the blower is started before the engine starter motor circuit or the engine ignition is energized.


A vessel carrying passengers for-hire on waters of this State using liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas for heating, cooking, or lighting must adhere to the Federal Regulations as contained in 46 CFR, Parts 25, 58, 147 and 184.


Every operator of a For-Hire vessel must provide insurance against liability posed by law for the payment of damages for bodily injury, death, and property loss or damage. The minimum amount if insurance required depends on the passenger seating capacity of the vessel and the number of vessels covered by each insurance policy. (See Figure #2)

The insurance must be provided in ways specified by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC):

  • Insurance Policies
  • Bonds
  • Lloyds of London
  • Self-insurance plan (must have PUC approval)

For specific information about insurance requirements, refer to General Order No. 111-C, Public Utilities Commission of the State.



If the policy, bond, or plan covers more than one vessel, the minimum required coverage for all vessels shall be determined by the coverage applicable to the vessel with the highest requirement.

If each vessel is covered by a separate policy, bond, or plan; or by separate schedules applicable to a single vessel within a policy, bond, or plan which covers two or more vessels; the minimum required coverage shall be determined for each vessel by its own individual requirement.

Kind of Equipment(Passenger Seating Capacity) For bodily injuries to or death of one person For bodily injuries to or death of all persons injured or killed in, any one accident (subject to a maximum of $150,000 for bodily injuries to or death of one person.) For loss or damage, in any one accident, to property of others (excluding cargo) Minimum for Single Limit Coverage
Property Only(No passengers)……… $150,000 $600,000 $100,000 $700,000
1-99 passengers $150,000 1,000,000 $100,000 1,100,000
100-199 passengers $150,000 1,100,000 $100,000 1,200,000
200-299 passengers $150,000 1,200,000 $100,000 1,300,000
300-399 passengers $150,000 1,300,000 $100,000 1,400,000
400-499 passengers $150,000 1,400,000 $100,000 1,500,000
500-999 passengers $150,000 2,000,000 $100,000 2,100,000
1,000-1,999 passengers $150,000 3,000,000 $100,000 3,100,000
2,000 or more passengers $150,000 4,000,000 $100,000 4,100,000