You do not need a captain's license to drive a boat recreationally in Florida. In most cases, the state will require you to pass a “safe boaters'" course/exam and possess the certificate of passing. Generally, this is obtained on a local or state level. However, If you are looking to operate professionally, i.e., take on paying passengers, then a USCG captain's license is required and is recognized on a federal level.
With Florida being a prime location for tourist attractions, this is a great opportunity for a licensed captain to make some extra cash.
You can offer many services in Florida with a captain’s license, such as:
|Sunset cruises in Key West
|Air boating to see gators or check out the Everglades
|Parasailing in Destin
|Snorkeling excursions in Crystal River
Captains have also reported a discount on their yearly insurance premiums, anywhere from 10-30%, for holding a captain's license. Depending on the size of the boat or the nature of the work, some insurance companies may require you to have a captain’s license.
What's another perk?! The captain’s license you will receive from the USCG is not limited solely to captaining in Florida. This license is federally recognized and can be used anywhere within the United States, including US territories.
This gives a licensed captain the opportunity to offer jet ski dolphin tours near the Mangrove Islands of Estero Bay or run a fishing charter from Miami down to Puerto Rico!
Still on the fence? The consequences of running a charter trip or offering party boat cruises illegally in Florida can be significant. The Coast Guard can fine you up to $10,000 per occurrence, so we’d say the risk outweighs the reward.
Also, consider the safety and well-being of other passengers onboard. A captain's license will equip you with the knowledge and know-how to be a safe captain.
While you do not need a captain license in Florida if you are not taking on paying passengers, the benefits of having the license supersede the risks of operating without one.
To learn more or if you would like additional information, check out our videos or contact us at (609) 303-0664, M-F, 9 a.m.-5pm EST.