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Boating rules and regulations

Michigan handbook of boating laws and responsibilities

Rules and regulations

Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws

A comprehensive handbook defining Michigan's boating laws and regulations, navigation rules, weather emergencies, encountering other vessels and much more.

Read the handbook »

Alcohol restrictions

Find out where alcohol possession and use is limited in state parks, recreation areas and boating access sites.

Boat registration

All watercraft, unless exempt, must be registered with the Michigan Department of State and display a registration decal. Registrations expire on March 31 in the third year of issuance.

Boat operator age restrictions

Learn how old you need to be to operate a boat or personal watercraft (such as a wave runner/jet ski)

The majority of state-sponsored boating access sites are posted closed 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. unless otherwise posted.

Boating and fishing laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species

The laws include the removal of drain plugs and aquatic organisms from boats and trailers and the disposal of unused baitfish.

Buoys and markers - what they mean

Learn what the different marker and buoys stand for - "traffic signals" on the water.

Life jacket rules

Who needs to wear a life jacket and what type of personal floatation device needs to be carried on your boat in Michigan.

Local watercraft rules

Know the rules about motorboats, high-speed boating, water skiing and more for particular waterbodies.

Pet restrictions at boating access sites

There are some restrictions in some locations during certain times of the year.