Legal Requirements

PWC Registration

CF 1234JS


Age of Operator

To operate a personal watercraft alone, the operator must be 16 years old or older. A person 12-15 years old may operate a personal watercraft designed to carry at least two people, if someone 18 years old or older supervises him or her on board.

Hull Identification Numbers (HIN)

A HIN is a 12-digit number/letter combination that is stamped into the hull of the vessel. A HIN is required for registration and is useful in identifying a stolen personal watercraft.


A personal watercraft must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The registration numbers must be applied left to right on the forward sides of the bow in block letters at least 3 inches high and of a contrasting color—light letters on a dark background, or dark letters on a light background. The state decal must be placed 3 inches aft of the numbers. Letters are separated from the numbers by hyphens or spaces equal to the width of the numbers (other than the number "1") or equal to the width of the letters (other than the letter "I").

The registration must be carried on the personal watercraft when you are under way. It's best to keep the registration in a waterproof container.


Operating a personal watercraft after dark is against the law. As a general rule, never ride a personal watercraft between sunset and sunrise or at other times when it's hard to see.

This law does not apply to people in professional exhibitions, regattas, races, parades and other similar activities.

See Chapter 2 for more details on Boating Law.

Restrictions Applying to Personal Watercraft

It's important to know that personal watercraft are subject to the same boat operating and navigation rules as other powerboats. Ignoring the rules does not excuse you from the law. To help make personal watercraft a safer form of boating, the law doesn't allow the operator of a personal watercraft to:

^ Use unsafe or reckless practices.

^ Jump another vessel's wake within 100 feet of the vessel creating the wake.

^ Operate at more than 5 mph within 200 feet of a beach or within 100 feet of swimmers.

^ Operate so fast and close to another vessel that they cause the other operator to swerve at the last minute to avoid a collision.

^ Operate the personal watercraft toward any person or vessel in the water, and turn sharply at close range in order to spray that vessel or person.

^ Alter the self-circling device on a personal watercraft that is equipped with such a device.

^ Operate the personal watercraft without a properly attached lanyard that runs from the cutoff or "kill" switch to the operator's body.

^ Operate the personal watercraft between sunset and sunrise.

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