Virginia Boating Safety Course



In addition to the requirement for a wearable PFD for each person on board a vessel, the state of Virginia requires at least one U.S. Coast Guard approved Type IV throwable PFD (ring buoy OR seat cushion) on all vessels 16 feet or greater in length, except for:

  • personal watercraft (PWC)
  • non-motorized canoes and kayaks 16 feet or greater in length
  • racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks
  • sail boards
  • vessels of the United States used by foreign competitors while practicing for or racing in competitions

Anyone onboard a PWC is required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

Inflatable PFDs are not approved for high impact water sports such as water skiing or riding on a PWC.

Child PFD Regulations

According to Federal Law, all boaters or passengers under the age of 13 must be wearing their PFD while the vessel is underway unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin. In Virginia, this rule is enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard and applies on waters over which they have enforcement jurisdiction.