Captained rental requirements

When conducting rentals, please keep in mind the following United States Coast Guard (USCG) requirements for captain's licensing and paid passenger capacity.  These criteria are required by the USCG, Boatsetter, and the GEICO BoatUS Insurance Policy.

In order for a boat owner to captain a "captained rental", they must have at least one of the following:

  • USCG 6 Pack (OUPV), 
  • Captain's License,
  • Master's License (can take up to 6 people)

Licenses are required in order to legally carry passengers for hire. This includes charters for fishing, sightseeing, diving, transportation, teaching or any use which is considered a “passenger for hire” situation. This license is properly termed “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” (OUPV) and is commonly referred to as the “6-pack” or “Charterboat Captain’s License”. The word “uninspected” means that the equipment required and the design of the boat are less regulated. “6-pack” refers to the 6-passenger limitation placed on the license. OUPV licenses are issued with a particular route. Your license can be for the Great Lakes, Inland routes meaning bays, sounds, rivers, lakes, etc. of the US or Near Coastal routes out to 100 miles offshore. All OUPV licenses are for 100 Gross Tons vessels. The OUPV license may be upgraded to a Master license.

For further details on regional regulations, see below:

  • Any captain's license must be endorsed for the waters in which the captain operates. For OUPV licenses issued for ocean waters, the captain may only operate within near-coastal waters, less than 100 miles offshore.  For OUPV licenses issued for inland waters and/or the Great Lakes, the captain may only operate within those designated waters and may NOT operate on near coastal or offshore waters.
  • A Limited OUPV ("Launch Operator's License") is not sufficient to captain a captained rental.
  • Other regulations, including local regulations specific to your geographic area, may apply to captained rentals. Under no circumstances should you carry more passengers or weight than is specified in the manufacturer's recommendations for your boat.  Depending on the type of rental, your boat may need a USCG Coastwise Endorsement in order to carry passengers.  Without a USCG Coastwise endorsement, you might be able to seek a specific waiver for your vessel and geographic region.

Small Passenger and Charter Vessel Definitions:

  • Passenger: An individual carried on the vessel except (i) the owner or an individual representative of the owner or, in the case of a vessel under charter, an individual charterer or representative of the charterer: (ii) the Master (captain); or (iii) a member of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel who has not contributed consideration for carriage and who is paid for onboard services. 46 United States Code (USC) 2101 (21)
  • Uninspected Passenger Vessel (UPV): A vessel not subject to inspection by the Coast Guard under 46 USC 3301, of at least 100 GT that is: (i) carrying not more than 12 passengers, including at least one passenger for hire; or (ii) that is chartered with a crew provided or specified by the owner or the owner's representative and carrying not more than 12 passengers; OR less than 100 gross tons that is: (i) the crew provided by the owner or owner's representative, and carrying six or fewer passengers. 46 USC 2101 (42) (A) & (B)
  • Small Passenger Vessel: Each vessel of less than 100 gross tons that: (i) carries more than six passengers, including at least one for hire; (ii) is chartered with a crew provided or specified by the owner provided or specified by the owner or the owner's representative and is carrying more than 12 passengers. 46 USC 2101 (35)

These general guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or operate as legal advice.  To determine whether your captain's license is sufficient to operate in particular circumstances, see 46 CFR Part 11, Subpart D, NVIC N7-94, the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993, the resources found at, or consult a maritime attorney.