Kansas Basic Boating Safety Course

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on August 21, 2019. In nauticalknowhow

kansas.gif (7849 bytes)This chapter contains information on Kansas Boating Regulations that are in addition to the Federal Requirements covered in the Basic Boating Course. If you have not reviewed the course material, please do so now. All Federal Requirements in the basic boating course apply to Kansas; this section lists Kansas Boating Requirements that are above and beyond Federal Requirements.

o receive your Kansas Boating Safety Certificate, complete chapters 3 through 9 in the Basic Boating Course, this chapter on Kansas state-specific information and its review quiz, and the final exam. Please make sure you have completed all chapter review quizzes before taking the final.


Age Restrictions:

Anyone born after January 1, 1989 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a motorboat or sailboat. Exemptions from this requirement include persons born before January 1, 1989, persons 21 years of age or older, and persons operating a motorboat or sailboat under the direct, audible supervision of an individual at least 18 years of age who possesses a boating safety certificate or who is exempt from the boating safety certificate requirements.

Lifejackets – Personal Flotation Devices:

Every person under 13 years of age must wear a USCG approved PFD when onboard a vessel.

PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD.

Sound Signalling Device – Bell

In Kansas, all boats 26′ and up must carry a bell.

Prohibited Operation:

It is illegal to operate a vessel carrying passengers, cargo or equipment beyond its safe carrying capacity. It is also illegal to operate a boat with more power than its safe power capacity.

It is illegal to operate a boat close to swimming areas, moored boats, vessels engaged in fishing, servicing buoys or markings, or similar activities, without reducing speed. Speed of operation should be slow enough to prevent wash or wake from causing damage or unnecessary inconvenience to others.

No person shall operate any motorboat or vessel, or manipulate any water skis, surfboard or similar device while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

No person shall operate or moor a vessel within an area that is marked by buoys or other distinguishing device as a bathing or swimming area, or as an all-boats-prohibited area. Further, no person shall operate a boat for purposes other than fishing or hunting in areas marked by buoys or otherwise designated as fishing or hunting areas.

It is illegal to operate, or give permission to operate, a vessel that is not properly equipped with safety devices as required by law and regulation.

It is illegal to operate a boat in a negligent manner which is failure to exercise the degree of care necessary to prevent endangering another person or their property. Some examples include bow riding, excessive speed, and operating too close to another boat.

Restricted Operation:

Some waterways limit boat size and use. Check local regulations before leaving. Also check to determine whether a launch permit is required.


It is illegal in the state of Kansas to operate a motorboat without an effective muffling system.

Navigation Rules:

The State of Kansas adopts and enforces all Federally mandated boating safety laws.

Every vessel operating in the State of Kansas shall carry and use safety equipment in accordance with U. S. Coast Guard requirements as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations. Additionally, every vessel shall display the lights and shapes required by the navigation rules. See the Basic Boating Course for these requirements.

Diving, Snorkeling or Spearfishing:

When diving outside a designated swimming area, all divers shall display a free-flying, 21 inch square minimum, white diagonal stripe on a red background divers-down flag in the area in which the diving occurs. Divers shall stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets and navigation channels.

A rigid replica of the Alpha flag may be displayed by vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver while engaged in diving operations.

Boaters should stay at least 100 feet away from a diver-down flag. In bays and open waters, stay at least 300 feet away.

Divers shall not, except in case of emergency, display the divers-down flag in an area which would constitute a navigational hazard.

Personal Watercraft:

You must be 16 to operate a personal watercraft alone. Operators 12 to 15 who successfully complete an approved boating safety course may also operate alone.

Each person on a Personal Watercraft (PWC) shall wear a Coast Guard approved PFD. Additionally, the operator must wear a lanyard type cut off switch provided by the manufacturer which will shut off the PWC should the operator fall off.

The operator of a Personal Watercraft shall operate in a reasonable and prudent manner. This includes being aware of other boats in the operating area, awareness of environmental concerns and respecting the rights of shoreline property owners and campers. The PWC operator should not follow other boats closely and should not jump the wake of other boats.

Water Skiing:

No person shall tow a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar device without an observer at least twelve years old aboard. A wide-angle rear view mirror may be used instead of the observer. 

In addition each person engaged in water skiing or aquaplaning shall wear a U. S. Coast Guard approved PFD or have an additional approved device onboard.

Water skiing is legal only between the hours of one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

Personal watercraft operators shall not tow any person unless the watercraft is designed to accommodate more than one person.

Races and Regattas

Kansas law requires a permit to hold a race, regatta or other marine event. Check with state authorities in advance to obtain proper authorization.

Environmental Concerns

Human sewage from boats is a source of pollution that poses environmental and health problems. It is unlawful to place, leave or discharge sewage into the waters of Kansas. All boats with a marine sanitation device shall be in compliance with all state and federal requirements.

Accident Reporting:

If you are involved in a boating accident, you must assist other people involved in the accident. Notify local law enforcement officers by the quickest means available.

“boating accident” includes, but is not limited to, capsizing, collision, foundering, flooding, fire, explosion and the disappearance of a vessel other than by theft. Any accident involving death, disappearance or personal injury must be reported within 48 hours. An accident involving damage greater than $2000 must be reported within five days.

Boating accident forms are available from the Kansas Wildlife and Parks, Law Enforcement Division, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, KS 67124 or any Conservation Officer.

Boating While Intoxicated:

It is illegal to operate any boat while under the influence of alcohol (blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or more) or drugs. There is a zero tolerance law for anyone under 21 years of age.

By operating on Kansas waterways, you are deemed to have given consent to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs. Refusal to submit to a test will result in loss of boating privileges for three months, in addition to other penalties prescribed by law.

Conviction of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in punishable by fine and/or imprisonment and the loss of boating privileges. Successful completion of a boating safety course may also be required.

Other safety items to be aware of:

How to Avoid Ship-to-Shore Power Electrocution
How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


All vessels principally operated on the waters of Kansas must be registered and numbered in Kansas. All boats powered by gasoline, diesel, electric motor or sail must be registered – including sailboards and personal watercraft. Non-residents operating boats that are properly registered in another state may use their boats in Kansas for up to 60 consecutive days without registering in Kansas.

You can obtain a registration application from your marine dealer, the county clerk’s office or the nearest Wildlife and Parks office. The registration shall be renewed every three years.

The certificate of number should be onboard when operating. The registration number and decal are required to be permanently attached to the boat hull as shown below. The numbers should be at least 3 inches tall, read from left to right, and be a contrasting color. The registration decal must be displayed throughout the three year registration period. A new decal will be issued when registration is renewed.

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If a boat is lost or stolen, the owner is required to notify the Wildlife and Parks department within 15 days.




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