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How to Get a Charter Boat Captain's License

Updated on October 11, 2014

USCG Captain's License Information

This page has information about obtaining your USCG Captains License. Included are suggested DVDs and books on getting your USCG captain's license as well as links to other important products and services.

In the USA, any operator of a boat for hire is required to be licensed. These licenses are issued by the United States Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers. To obtain the contact information for the Regional Exam Center nearest your location visit:

Also included is information about the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, another mandatory requirement for boat charters and guides.

How to Prepare For Getting a Captains License

In order to obtain an entry level captains license from the United States Coast Guard, mariners will need to complete the following steps:

1. Applicants do not have to own a vessel, but must have at least 360 days of "sea service". A "day" at sea is defined as a trip that lasts 4 hours or more. Of the 360 days, 90 of those must have been logged within the last 3 years. You must have supporting logs to document sea service, so boaters should keep accurate records well in advance.

2. Applicants must be 18 years of age or more.

3. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

4. Applicants must have current first aid and CPR certificates.

5. Applicants must be enrolled in a random drug testing program, or have passed a recent drug test.

6. Applicants must get a physical.

7. Applicants must obtain a TWIC card.

8. Applicants must pass an extensive written exam which covers navigation, safety, seamanship and other subjects.

Depending on the class of license applied for, other requirements may be necessary.

Charter Boat Captains Must Obtain a TWIC Card

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program was established in the Maritime Transportation Security Act and the SAFE Port Act to serve as an identification program for all Coast Guard credentialed mariners and personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas within a port. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program.

The TWIC program is progressing steadily and has opened more than 100 fixed enrollment centers and dozens of mobile sites nationwide. Workers can pre-enroll online at Pre-enrollment can accelerate credentialing by allowing workers to provide biographic information and schedule a time to complete the application process in person. This eliminates delays at enrollment centers and reduces total enrollment time for each worker.

Additional information can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard's Homeport site,, and on the Transportation Security Administration's web site at

Setting up a Charter Boat or Fishing Guide Website

Setting up a website for your charter boat business is one of the most important decisions of your business. The most important aspect of a charter boat website is its ability to be found by your customers. Before the website is constructed, the business owner should learn the basics of keyword research and create a list of important search terms that relate to their business.

Not all web design companies understand and specialize in search engine optimization, so it is important to review past examples of success when choosing a web design company. Do they have existing clients that rank high in search engine results?

A reputable designer can explain all the factors that influence a website's search engine rankings, suggest which key phrases might be important and offer services to help your site perform well on Google, Bing and other search engines. After all, the most exquisite and artful website in the world cannot put paying customers on your boat unless they can find you.

U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Statistics

90 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

The U.S. Coast Guard's 2007 Recreational Boating Statistics show:

685 fatalities, 3,673 injuries, 5,191 accidents and $53 million in property damage.

90 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

Alcohol was the leading contributing factor in approximately one-fifth of all boating fatalities.

Only 14 percent of all boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.


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    • profile image

      teakforboats 5 years ago

      Great Lens - Thanks

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      A boatload a great information. Thanks for sharing!

    • BruceStott profile image

      Bruce Stott 6 years ago from Sidney BC

      Good lens, lots of valuable information in one place

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

      Excellent lens! - well done

    • northamerica profile image

      northamerica 7 years ago

      @thecomputerfans: According to the USCG, in the USA, any operator of a boat for hire is required to be licensed. Your local Coast Guard station can help you further with questions about boat requirements.

    • profile image

      thecomputerfans 7 years ago

      thanks for share! I not sure if just a 5m boat if need a license?