Everything You Need to Know about Boating in Louisiana

Boating rules and regulations vary from state to state. That is why, when you are looking to buy a new boat for yourself, you will want to know everything about buying a boat in your state. In Louisiana, for instance, you do not need a boating license, but you do need a boater’s education card. Follow this comprehensive guide to get you started on choosing your boat. Once you’ve chosen and purchased your boat, it’s on to the tricky parts – registration, laws, and regulations.

Owning a boat is fun. It can take you places that your car cannot. It can offer endless hours of enjoyment and peace. Louisiana is a great state to own a boat, and in some cases, it’s needed. Here is everything that you need to know about boating in Louisiana:

Choosing the Right Boat for You 

Use

Before you can choose the size, make, or model of your boat, you need to consider what you will be doing with it. There are so many uses for boats that you don’t just want to buy a boat that you like the look of; doing that might result in you realizing that it is too small, that you needed more space to store fish, or perhaps that you really needed an indoor area. Boats can be quite an investment, so it’s important to have the boat that meets your needs.

How long do you plan on staying on your boat for? Do you want a boat to take short, hour long trips or do you want one that can take you somewhere for a few days? Do you want something for your lake or something that can tackle the ocean? Knowing what you want to do with your boat is the only way to narrow down the wide variety of boats that are out there for you.

Size

Unlike cars, boats come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You need to know how many people you will want to be able to host at any given time, what you need to store, and how big your dock, trailer, or other items will need to be. If you have a large family, you will need a boat that can seat a lot of people. If it’s just you that will be using it, you don’t have to worry about seating quite as much. Fishers need space to put their gear, bait, and fish. Knowing what you will be using your boat for is a great way to determine what size of vessel you need.

Season

If you want to use your boat in colder seasons, you should consider a boat that has an indoor area. You will want to be able to steer both inside and outside, weather depending. Those who want to boat in the cooler seasons are also the ones who usually want to take longer trips. The bigger the boat, the further you can go. If your boat is out of the water over winter, you need to think about where you are going to store it.

Proficiency

Then there is your proficiency. While most boats are very easy and straightforward to steer, the bigger vessels contain a lot more systems and electronics. While you do not need a license to drive a boat, it is advised that, once you get a large sea-vessel, that you take a course. There are a lot of systems that can break, or need maintenance, and there are a lot of ocean rules and regulations you need to follow. If you don’t want to take the course, hire a captain to regularly go out with you who can teach you all you need to know.

Budget

Everyone has a budget. Knowing your budget means knowing how much you can afford for the vessel itself, for its upkeep, and for its storage. Boats are not a regular purchase, and buying used is a great way to save on money; however, you will have to be very careful as boats can get damaged. You will want to bring someone along who can vouch for the engine, electronic systems, and general state of the boat. The safer way, however, is to buy through a dealership. Whatever your budget, make sure you stick to it! 

Boating Laws in Louisiana

In Louisiana, you need to title and register your boat within fifteen days of purchasing it.  You do this with the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). To register and title your boat you will have to complete a Form 55, from the DMV which is a boat registration/boat and motor title application. You will also have to provide proof of purchase, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, and a notarized bill of sale signed by both you and the person who sold it to you.

These documents need to have the registration number, the hull identification number (HIN) and the make and model. It’s fairly similar to registering a car. The different is choosing or stating the assigned boat title. If the boat doesn’t have an assigned title, you need to create one.

If you bought your boat from a dealership (which is the safer, more secure way to go) then you will need to provide Form R-1331, the boat registration tax payment certification. If the boat is not official, meaning that it was made by hand, or otherwise does not have a HIN number, you will need to have it inspected and then provide the DMV with an affidavit for boat registration. The inspection fee is $28, and is non-fundable.

The fees you need to pay to get your boat registered vary from $23 to $33+ depending on the size. If you are registering a boat that is over 18 ft. for instance, you will need to pay a base fee of $33 and for every additional foot you will need to pay an extra $2.

To acquire an original title, the fee is $26, and other fees like transfer fees, duplication fees, or inspection fees are less than $30. All registrations are valid for three years, at which time you will have to renew your registration. You can renew your registration online or by mail. You will need to fill out new Form 55 and pay a renewal fee. If you don’t renew it within 60 after your registration expires, you will have to start the process all over again.

Louisiana also requires that all boaters who were born after 1988 will need a boater education card. If, however, your boat cannot exceed 10 horsepower, you don’t need one. In order to get this card, you need to score a minimum of 70% on a written test and pass the course. The minimum age that you can take the course is 10 years old, however it is illegal for anyone the age of 16 to operate a personal vessel.

The only time someone who was born after 1988 can be exempt from taking this course is if you have been licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a captain.

Insurance

Like with a car, you will want insurance. Having insurance means that you don’t have to worry about the worst-case scenario where you or your vessel get into an accident. Insurance can provide medical costs, protect you from liability when an accident is your fault, and can also be the only way that you can either fix or get a new boat after an accident. Insurance is important. You don’t want to be uninsured, especially if you frequently boat around other watercrafts.

Legal Actions  

Insurance is great if you were the one at fault for the accident. This means anything from colliding with another boat to missing a suddenly hitting rocks and running aground. When the accident was not your fault, however, you need to be compensated. To get what you are owed, you need legal advice and a lawyer to represent you. Hire an experienced boat accident lawyer in Louisiana.

Lawyers collect all the information on your behalf so that you can present a strong case and get the most compensation. This is particularly important if you have been hospitalized. There is a lot of work to be done behind the scenes, and if you disagree with the settlement, you can then go to court.

Compensation is for property damage, medical expenses, and loss of income if you are unable to work. It can also cover pain and loss, depending on how severe the accident was.

Don’t try to cut corners when choosing, buying, or registering your boat. When you are choosing a boat, you want to make sure that the boat has and can do everything that you need it to do. Don’t get wowed by a shiny, cool speedboat that you saw at a boating show if all you really want to do is fish. Similarly, there’s no need to buy a large boat if it’s only going to just be you aboard. Know what you need, know your budget, and, most importantly, make sure the boat is in excellent condition before you buy it! From there, it’s all about keeping things legal so that if something were to happen to you or your boat, you are protected.