Child Life Jacket Requirements – All 50 State Laws

Every state in the U.S. has some type of life jacket rules and regulations that must be followed when it comes to children and boating. Most states have their own law. For the few states that don’t have a state law in place, a federal U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) interim rule states that all children under the age of 13 who are on boats that are moving, must wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) that correctly fits them.

While there are differences in minimum age depending on location, it should always be the parent’s responsibility to determine whether a child should wear a PFD, even if state law does not require them to at their age or situation.

To make it easy to find life jacket laws in a particular state, simply click on the state in the map below to see its requirements.



Alabama

Child Requirements:
All children 7 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all time while on board any boat.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Alaska

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times when in an open boat, on the deck of a boat, or when waterskiing.

Exceptions:
Unless not in an open boat, on the deck, or waterskiing.

– Source

 


Arizona

Child Requirements:
All children 12 years of age and younger must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III life jacket while underway on any vessel, being towed behind a vessel, or on a personal watercraft.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Arkansas

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times while on board any vessel or being towed behind one.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed area of a houseboat or cruiser or within railings of a party barge, houseboat, or cruiser while the vessel is not moving.

– Source

 


California

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times on any moving recreational vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless on a sailboat and contrained by a tethered harness, in an enclosed cabin, or on a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue.

– Source

 


Colorado

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times when their vessel is on the water.

Exceptions:
Unless if in an enclosed cabin or below deck.

– Source

 


Connecticut

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times when their vessel is underway.

Exceptions:
Unless if in an enclosed cabin or below deck.

– Source

 


Delaware

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket at all times while on any vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless if in an enclosed cabin, below deck, or if the vessel is at anchor or moored.

– Source

 


Florida

Child Requirements:
All children 5 and younger must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, or III life jacket while onboard a vessel under 26′ long while the vessel is underway.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Georgia

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while onboard any moving boat.

Exceptions:
Unless if in a fully enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Hawaii

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while onboard a moving vessel or anchored offshore.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin of a vessel at least 19′ long.

– Source

 


Idaho

Child Requirements:
All children 14 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while aboard a boat 19′ in length or less and the boat is underway. Applies to powerboats, sailboats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, and fishing float tubes.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Illinois

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while onboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length and underway.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property.

– Source

 


Indiana

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket when boating on Waters of Concurrent Jurisdiction.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed cabin, below deck, or the boat is docked or at anchor.

– Source

 


Iowa

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway on a recreational vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Kansas

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while onboard or being towed behind a vessel. Applies even when anchored.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Kentucky

Child Requirements:
All children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket in the open part of a boat that is under way.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Louisiana

Child Requirements:
All children 16 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Maine

Child Requirements:
All children 10 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) while onboard all watercraft.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Maryland

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, III, or V) while underway on a recerational vessel less than 21 feet in length. Includes motorboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or any other device used for recreational transportation on the water.

Additionally, children 3 and younger must wear a life jacket that features extra precautions such as a strap that is secured between their legs, and inflatable headrest or high collar, and a web handle.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck, in an enclosed cabin, or on a moored or anchored vessel.

– Source

 


Massachusetts

Child Requirements:
All children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway and above deck.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck.

– Source

 


Michigan

Child Requirements:
All children 5 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I or II) while in the open deck area of a boat.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck.

– Source

 


Minnesota

Child Requirements:
All children 9 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket when aboard watercraft that is underway.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed cabin, below deck, the boat is anchored/moored, or aboard a charter craft with a licensed captain.

– Source

 


Mississippi

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) while underway in a vessel less than 26 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Missouri

Child Requirements:
All children 6 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket on board any vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Montana

Child Requirements:
All children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Nebraska

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) while onboard or being towed by a vessel.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Nevada

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless in a fully enclosed area.

– Source

 


New Hampshire

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless the vessel is completely enclosed by railings at least 3 feet high and constructed in a way that a small child cannot fall through.

– Source

 


New Jersey

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless in a fully enclosed, non-removable cabin.

– Source

 


New Mexico

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a vessel.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


New York

Child Requirements:
All children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while aboard a boat 65 feet in length or less.

Exceptions:
Unless in a fully enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


North Carolina

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a vessel.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


North Dakota

Child Requirements:
All children 10 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) while underway in a vessel less than 27 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Ohio

Child Requirements:
All children 9 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket on any vessel less than 18 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Oklahoma

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Oregon

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times while on an open deck or cockpit when a boat is underway or being towed.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Pennsylvania

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times while underway on a vessel 20 feet or less length. Includes kayaks and canoes.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Rhode Island

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a recreational vessel less than 65 feet in length.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


South Carolina

Child Requirements:
All children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, III, or V) while on board a Class “A” (less than 16 feet in length) vessel.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


South Dakota

Child Requirements:
All children 6 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket on any vessel operating at greater than “slow, no wake speed”.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Tennessee

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times while on the open deck of a recreational vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless vessel is anchored, moored, or aground.

– Source

 


Texas

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in a recreational vessel less than 26 feet in length.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Utah

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while on board any vessel.

Exceptions:
Unless within an enclosed cabin area of a vessel at least 19 feet in length.

– Source

 


Vermont

Child Requirements:
ll children 11 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) at all times while underway on the open deck of any vessel.

Additionally, all children 15 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket (type I, II, or III) at all times while on a sailboat.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Virginia

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while on board any vessel that’s underway.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


Washington

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while on board any vessel that’s underway and less than 19 feet in length.

Exceptions:
Unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 


West Virginia

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while on deck of any motorboat that is underway.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Wisconsin

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway in an open vessel.

Exceptions:
None.

– Source

 


Wyoming

Child Requirements:
All children 12 and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket while underway.

Exceptions:
Unless in an enclosed cabin.

– Source

 
 


 
Please Note: While we do our best to keep this page updated to reflect each state’s current laws, we advise you to check with your state if you want to be absolutely sure a recent change of law has not taken place in your state.