Vessels may only be operated in or on New Jersey state waters if the vessel is carrying at least one US Coast Guard-approved wearable personal flotation device (PFD) of the correct size for each person aboard.

Surfboards, racing shells, rowing sculls and racing kayaks are exempt from this regulation.

New Jersey lifejacket (PFD) requirements

What are the standard requirements to the life jackets?

  • Each vessel must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved PFD of proper size, in serviceable condition, and readily accessible for each person on board and for anyone being towed.
  • Boats 16 feet or more in length must carry at least one Type IV - throwable USCG-approved PFD that is kept within easy reach of the operator or passenger(s) on board.
  • Any person being towed on water skis, other towed devices, or operating or riding on a personal watercraft (PWC) must wear a properly fitted USCG-approved PFD.

Do you need a life jacket on a kayak in NJ?

Vessels less than 16 feet in length, and all canoes and kayaks, regardless of length, must carry one Coast Guard approved personal flotation device for each person on board. 

What age children must wear a USCG PFD?

Passengers 12 years of age or younger must wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while the vessel they are on is underway unless they are inside a fully enclosed cabin that is a permanent, non-removable part of the vessel.