The Handbook of Michigan: Boating Laws and Responsibilities

The Handbook of Michigan: Boating Laws and Responsibilities


The Handbook of Michigan: Boating Laws and Responsibilities is the official boating handbook developed for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The handbook introduces you to Michigan laws governing boating and provides general information about safe vessel operation on Michigan waterways.

Home to the glacial-fed Great Lakes, along with 11,000 inland lakes and 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline, Michigan offers boating and sailing that doesn’t end with the warm weather—once winter hits, boaters can take to the frozen lakes for an ice sailing adventure.

Use this handbook to familiarize yourself with steps to make all your boating outings safe and enjoyable. Remember, safety on Michigan waterways is the responsibility of all boaters. 

Topics include:

  • Vessel Basics
  • Navigation Rules
  • Nighttime Navigation
  • Emergencies
  • Personal Watercraft (PWCs)
  • Michigan Boating Laws and Regulations
  • Required Equipment
  • Skiing
  • And much more…

Boater Education

You may have heard that you need a boating license to operate your boat, but what you really need is a boaters safety course. Whether or not your state requires education, it can reduce boating accidents and injuries on the water. Boaters can keep themselves and their passengers safe by learning about responsible boat operation, etiquette, and the rules of the waterways.

Persons born after June 30, 1996, and most PWC operators, who operate a vessel in Michigan must successfully complete a Michigan-approved boat education course.