Ace Boater - Boating license and exam online
Online Boating License & Boaters Safety Course
Accredited by NASBLA
My Profile Previous Search Close

California Life Jacket Laws

PFD - Life Jacket Laws

California State Parks Boating and Waterways

United States Coast Guard

NASBLA - National Association of State Boating Law Administrator

California boating law requires to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Life Jacket for:

  1. all persons on board a PWC;
  2. anyone being towed behind a vessel;
  3. children under 13 years.

The law does not apply in the following circumstances:

  1. the operator of a sailboat on which every child under age 13 is restrained by a harness tethered to the sailboat;
  2. the operator of a vessel on which every child under age 13 is in an enclosed cabin.

California Life Jacket laws & requirements

Under California boating laws all personal flotation devices must be readily accessible and one throwable flotation device must be immediately available

With the exception of kayaks and canoes, every vessel must carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard-Approved PFD for every person on board if the vessel is 16 feet or longer.

Inflatable PFD must be worn in order to be considered readily accessible. Inflatable U.S. Coast Guard-Approved PFD are acceptable for persons age 16.

PFDs must be kept in serviceable condition. If they are badly torn, damaged, rotted, punctured, or otherwise unserviceable, they no longer meet legal requirements and should be replaced.

Do you need a life jacket for a kayak in california?

A Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be carried for each person on board. If stored, these life jackets must be readily available (easy to get to), and you must show passengers the location of life jackets and other safety equipment.

Do you need a life jacket for a canoe in california?

A Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be carried for each person on board. If stored, these life jackets must be readily available (easy to get to), and you must show passengers the location of life jackets and other safety equipment.

Do you need a life jacket for an underwater maneuvering device in california?

Anyone using an underwater maneuvering device is exempt from wearing a life jacket. An underwater maneuvering device is any towed or self-powered device designed for underwater use that a person can pilot through diving, turning and surfacing moves. 

It is highly recommended that all boaters wear PFD’s.

 The mandatory boating safety education law is phased in by age. If you operate any type of motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats/paddlecraft), you are required to pass an approved boating safety examinaton and carry a lifetime California Boater Card.

Begin your study now