Vermont Boating Regulations

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on June 28, 2020. In

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Boating Regulations

This section contains information on Vermont Boating Regulations that arein addition to the Federal Requirements covered in the 
Basic Boating Course.

Age Restrictions:

Persons less than 16 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft.

Persons less than 12 years of age are restricted to motorboats of 6 hp or less.

Anyone born after January 1, 1974 must successfully complete an approved boating safety course prior to operating any motorized vessel. This online Basic Boating Safety Course meets this requirement.

Personal Flotation Devices:

Persons less than 12 years must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD when above decks and underway.

Persons less than 16 years of age must wear a Type I, II, or III on a sailboard.

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

Effective May 1, 1995, all recreational boats, canoes and kayaks less than 16’ in length must carry a type I, II or III wearable PFD for each person on board.

Required PFDs must be readily accessible.

Speed Limits:

Within 200 feet of shore, dock, swim area, person in water and other vessels or anchorage, speed must be less than 5 miles per hour and must not create a wake.

Motorized Vessels:

All engines must be muffled in order to reduce operating noise level to not more than 82 decibels on the A scale at 50 feet.

Navigation Rules:

United States Coast Guard inland navigation rules are adopted for Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog and Wallace Pond in Canaan.

Snorkeling & Diving:

Motorized vessels must maintain a distance of at least 200 feet of a diver down flag. The diver down flag (red with white diagonal stripe) is required.

Personal Watercraft:

Operation of a personal watercraft is prohibited between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.

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

No person less than 16 years of age shall operate a PWC.

Water Skiing:

An observer (who is not the boat operator) is required. The observer must be at least 12 years of age.

Water skiers must remain at least 100 feet away from a person in the water or light craft.

Marine Sanitation Devices:

In no discharge zones a holding tank is required. No discharge capability allowed, openings sealed, overboard lines and Y valves removed.

Residential use of overnight sleeping vessels is prohibited on waters lacking sanitary waste pumpout facilities.

Accident Reporting:

Any accident involving personal injury or damage greater than $100 must be reported within 36 hours. Report accidents to Vermont State Police.

Boating While Intoxicated:

Is a criminal offense punishable by fine, imprisonment and loss of privilege to operate. The fine for a first offense is not less than $200.00 nor more than $750.00; for a second or subsequent offenses, not less than $250.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

Effective July 1, 1997 no person under the age of 21 shall operate, attempt to operate or have physical control of a vessel on Vermont waters when the person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more.

By operating on Vermont waterways, you are deemed to have given consent to be tested for alcohol if arrested for operating under the influence.


If your boat is not Vermont registered, a validation sticker is required if it is in Vermont waters between 30 and 90 days per year. A Vermont registration is required if your boat is in Vermont waters more than 90 days per year.

The numbers and stickers are placed on both port and starboard sides, with the sticker fore of the numbers.

Documented vessels require a Vermont validation sticker if in Vermont waters 30 or more days per year.

Additional Information:

Information and frequently asked questions about registration and documentation in Vermont can be found in the section Documenting Your Boat for use in Vermont.

Information about operating a boat in Vermont and related Vermont statutes can be found in the section Vermont Boating Operations and Statutes.

Information on regulations for lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be found in the section Rules for Vermont Lakes, Ponds and Reservoirs.



  • Kris Hercules on May 14, 2020

    Thank you for this information. Is this the most up-to-date publication for Lake Champlain?


  • Concerned vermonter on June 9, 2020

    Mumba boats used for surfing and carry large balusters their wakes are eroding lake bomoseen shorelines. If homeowners are limited to use of lake front these boats Should be on lake Champlain. Bomoseen is too little of a lake to handle these waves


  • Tracey Fillie on June 18, 2020

    Can you tell me where on lake Champlain is it safe to water tube? Also when I fall off the tube, how do other boaters know I am in the water? I’m afraid of getting run over!


  • Katie on June 23, 2020

    If I am paddleboarding in VT am I required to have a life jacket with me (I am over the age of 16)? Or is the ankle tie enough to prove I have a PFD?


    • Kris Hercules on September 3, 2020



    • Safford on July 25, 2021

      You MUST have or wear a PFD. The board is not a PFD.


  • MARK LACKEY on July 26, 2020

    does a boat with an electric trolling motor need to be registered in vt?


  • Bill Robel on August 10, 2020

    Fishing Lake Champlain on a 7 day out of state license, what is the requirement for bringing you own boat.Any special stickers or permits?
    20 foot 125hp.
    Any COVID restrictions for being a Maryland resident.
    Is there a quarantine?


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