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Required Boating Equipment

Equipment Checklist

See specific requirements in the sections below.

  Personal Watercraft Boats Less than 16 Feet Boats 16 Feet to Less than 26 Feet
Registration on Board X X X
Validation Decals Displayed X X X
PFDs (Type I,II, or III) X X X
PFDs (Type IV)     X
Engine Cut-off Switch X X (if hand tiller outboard motor 10 horsepower or more) X (if hand tiller outboard motor 10 horsepower or more)
Type B Fire Extinguishers X X X
Navigation Lights N/A (not allowed to operate between sunset and sunrise) X X
Horn, Whistle, or Bell     X
Daytime Visual Distress Signals     X (in federal waters)
Nighttime Visual Distress Signals N/A (not allowed to operate between sunset and sunrise) X (in federal waters) X (in federal waters)
Backfire Flame Arrestor X X (on inboards and stern drives only) X (on inboards and stern drives only)
Ventilation System X X X
Muffler/Underwater Exhaust X X X

 

Boat Registration, Number, and Decal

When you register your boat, you will receive a registration certificate, which states the number assigned to your boat, and two decals

You must keep your registration certificate on board the vessel at all times. We suggest keeping it in a waterproof container in a safe but easily accessible place.

Paint or attach the assigned number to each side of the forward half of the vessel's hull. The letters and numbers must be:

  • Plain block design
  • At least 3 inches high*
  • Of a color that contrasts with the hull (light numbers on a dark hull or vice versa)*
  • Clearly visible and legible
  • Placed vertically.

*Disregard border, outline, and shadowing when determining height and color contrast.  

There must be a hyphen or space equal to the width of a number (except 1) or letter (except I) between the prefix, numerals, and suffix. Examples of correct number display are: LA-4002-CS OR LA 4002 GS.

You must attach decals received from LDWF to each side of the vessel's bow within 6 inches of your registration number.

Hull Identification Number

A hull identification number is a 12-digit combination of letters and numbers located on the outside transom in quarter-inch minimum letters. All boats constructed after November 1, 1972, must have this number permanently displayed on the boat by the manufacturer before the boat can be sold. Boats manufactured prior to this date will have a metal tag serial number.

It is a violation of state and federal law to possess any boat from which the hull identification number or manufacturer's identification plates bearing the serial number have been removed or altered. Law enforcement will consider an outboard motor or motorboat without these numbers contraband and seize the property. Salvage or found boats, or boats with no identification markings must be reported immediately to LDWF.

Personal Flotation Devices

Louisiana law requires that all children age 16 and younger wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III PFD while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet long. The PFD must be fastened and properly sized for the child. Inflatables are not allowed for children age 16 and under. A wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III PFD must be readily available for each of the other passengers on board.

Everyone on board a motorboat less than 16 feet propelled by a hand tiller outboard motor must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD while the motorboat is underway.

You must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board a pirogue, canoe, or kayak. The PFD must be properly sized and in serviceable condition.

If you’re riding on a personal watercraft, you must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

Individuals engaged in watersports, including but not limited to waterskiing, being towed on a tube, wakeboarding, wake surfing, etc., must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD. An inflatable PFD is not permitted.

Engine Cut-off Switches

The operator of a motorboat less than 26 feet with a hand tiller outboard motor over 10 horsepower designed to have or with an engine cut-off switch must attach the engine cutoff switch to himself, his clothing, or his PFD (if it’s worn while the motor is running and the vessel is underway).

If your personal watercraft has a lanyard ignition safety switch, you must attach the lanyard to your person, clothing, or PFD.

Fire Extinguishers

All mechanically propelled vessels less than 26 feet must carry one B-1 U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher if any of the following applies:

  • Inboard engines
  • Closed compartments and compartments under seats where portable fuel tanks may be stored
  • Double bottoms not sealed to the hull or not completely filled with flotation materials
  • Closed living spaces
  • Closed compartments in which combustible or flammable materials are stored
  • Permanently installed fuel tanks. (A fuel tank is considered permanently installed if the tank is secured so it cannot be moved in case of fire or other emergency. There are no gallon capacity limits to determine if the tank is portable—if the weight of a fuel tank is such that people on board cannot move it, the U.S. Coast Guard considers it permanently installed.)

Mechanically propelled vessels 26 feet to less than 40 feet must carry two B-1 U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers.

Vessels over 65 feet must have one to eight (depending on the weight of the vessel) B-2 U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers and a fixed system in the machinery space. 

Lights

Navigation Lights

The following requirements apply to every motorboat or vessel underway in any type of weather from sunset to sunrise.

Motorboats and Class A and 1 vessels must carry:

  • A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon
  • A combined lantern in the fore part of the vessel and lower than the white aft showing green to starboard and red to port so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on their respective sides.

Motorboats and Class 2 and 3 vessels must carry:

  • A bright white light in the fore part of the vessel as near the stern as practicable so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 20 points of the compass and so fixed as to throw the light 10 points on each side of the vessel, namely from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on either side
  • A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon and higher than the white light forward
  • On the starboard side, a green light so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 10 points of the compass and so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on the starboard side. On the port side, a red light so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 10 points of the compass so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on the port side. These side lights must be fitted with inboard screens of sufficient height so set as to prevent these lights from being seen across the bow.

Motorboats and Class A and 1 vessels propelled by sail alone must carry the combined lanterns but not the white light aft as previously described.

Motorboats and Class 2 and 3 vessels propelled by sail alone must carry suitably screened colored side lights but not the white light as previously described.

Motorboats and all classes of vessels must carry a lantern or flashlight which shows a white light and is readily accessible so it can be shown in sufficient time to avert collision.

Note: When propelled by sail and machinery, a motorboat must carry the same lights required for a motorboat propelled by machinery only.

Anchor Lights

All motorboats anchored in navigable waterways of Louisiana must show a white 360-degree stern light from sunset to sunrise. This light shall be the highest such light to be exhibited.

Visibility of Lights

White lights must be visible from at least two miles away. Colored lights must be visible from at least one mile away. Visible means visible on a dark night with clear atmosphere.

Trawling Vessels

A vessel engaged in trawling (dragging a dredge net or other apparatus used as a fishing appliance through the water) must show two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being green and the lower white, or a shape consisting of two cones with their apexes together in a vertical line one above the other.

A vessel less than 20 meters (65.6 feet) in length may exhibit a basket (a masthead light abaft of and higher than the all-round green light) instead of the aforementioned shape.

A vessel less than 50 meters (164 feet) in length is not required to exhibit such a light.

When making way through the water, trawling vessels must also have sidelights and a stern light.

Fishing Vessels

A vessel engaged in fishing other than trawling must exhibit two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower white, or a shape consisting of two cones with apexes together in a vertical line one above the other.

A vessel less than 20 meters (65.6168 feet) in length may exhibit a basket instead of the aformentioned shape.

A vessel with outlying gear extending more than 150 meters (492.126 feet) horizontally from the vessel must have an all-round white light or a cone apex upward in the direction of the gear.

When making way through the water, fishing vessels must also have sidelights and a stern light. 

Sound Signaling Devices

Every motorboat and Class 1, 2, and 3 vessel must have an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance. Every motorboat and Class 2 and 3 vessel must also have an efficient bell.

Visual Distress Signals

All recreational boats, when used on coastal waters and the territorial seas, up to a point where a body of water is less than two miles wide, must be equipped with visual distress signals. Boats owned in the United States operating on the high seas must also be equipped with visual distress signals.

The following boats are only required to carry visual distress signals when operating at night:

  • Recreational boats less than 16 feet in length
  • Boats participating in organized events such as races, regattas, or marine parades
  • Open sailboats less than 26 feet in length and not equipped with propulsion machinery
  • Manually propelled boats.

Pyrotechnic visual distress signals must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and readily accessible. They must be in serviceable condition—their marked expiration date must not have passed.

Launchers produced before January 1, 1981, intended for use with approved signals are not required to be U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

Backfire Flame Arrestors

The carburetor or carburetors of every motorboat engine using gasoline as fuel (except outboard motors) must have an efficient flame arrestor, backfire trap, or other similar device.

Gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors, must be equipped as stated above. The device must be suitably attached to the air intake with a flame tight connection and is required to be U.S. Coast Guard-approved or comply with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 standards and marked accordingly. 

Powered Ventilation System

Each compartment in a boat that has a permanently installed gasoline engine with a cranking motor must be:

  • Open to the atmosphere OR
  • Ventilated by an exhaust blower system.

Mufflers

It is illegal to use a motorboat without an efficient muffler, underwater exhaust, or other modern device capable of adequately muffling the sound of the exhaust of the engine.

Marine Sanitation Devices

All recreational boats with installed toilet facilities must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board. Vessels 65 feet and under may use a Type I, II, or III MSD. Vessels over 65 feet must install a Type II or III MSD.

All installed MSDs must be U.S. Coast Guard-certified. U.S. Coast Guard-certified devices are labeled as such, except for some holding tanks, which are certified by definition under regulations.

When operating a vessel on a body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated sewage is prohibited, the operator must secure the MSD in a manner which prevents any discharge. Acceptable methods include:

  • Padlocking overboard discharge valves in the closed position
  • Using non-releasable wire tie to hold overboard discharge valves in the closed position
  • Closing overboard discharge valves and removing the handle
  • Locking the door with a padlock or keylock to the space enclosing the toilets (for Type I and II only).

Termination Order for Hazardous Conditions

There are certain conditions under which a law enforcement agent may observe especially hazardous conditions aboard a vessel and direct the operator to take immediate steps to correct the condition, including returning to port. Some examples where termination may be imposed are:

  • Fuel in bilges
  • Fuel leakage
  • Insufficient number of U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFDs
  • No or insufficient fire extinguishers
  • Improper navigation light display
  • Ventilation requirements for tank and engine spaces not met or up to standard
  • No or improper backfire flame arrestor.