Boat captain license requirements

Written by andrea julian | 13/05/2017
Boat captain license requirements
A license issued by the United States Coast Guard is required for anyone who captains a boat. (boat image by Penny Williams from

A captain's boat license is called an OUPV License, which stands for "Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels." This type of license is required in order for an individual to captain an uninspected vessel of up to 100 gross tons that is between 75 and 90 feet long. There are two forms in which the license is issued, as a OUPV Inland License or an OUPV Near Coastal License. Both these licenses have the same primary requirements.

Submission of Forms

All applicants must fill out an official application form that needs to include at least three character references. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and have at least 360 days experience in the operation of vessels. Experience prior to the age of 13 is not counted. Included in the application form is a Physical Exam Form, including the results of vision, hearing and general physical exams. A Sea Service Form also needs to be included. On this form you will document your experience operating your own vessel.

Drug-Test Result Submission

Anyone who captains a boat is required to undergo a required Coast Guard random drug-testing program. Applicants must either submit a letter stating they are in the program or submit a letter from a physician with the results of a Drug-Free form from a SAMHSA-approved drug test.

Proof of Age, Social Security Number and Citizenship

Each applicant needs to verify their age and citizenship. This can be verified by submitting an original or certified copy of a birth certificate or passport, a baptismal certificate that was issued within a year of birth or proper documentation for a name change. A Certificate of Naturalization can also be used, but only an original copy will be excepted. Proof of a Social Security number must also be submitted, and only an original or duplicate card will be accepted.

CPR and First Aid Certification

Basic First Aid skills and training in CPR are required for all boat captains. Proof of participation in a class from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or an approved Coast Guard course dated within 12 months of the application date must be turned in at time of application.


Applicants must complete either the United States Coast Guard examination or another approved course. The United States Coast Guard has a search service on its site to help applicants find an approved school in their area. You can simply go to the site and search by course name, location, state or nearby schools.

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