What is Required on a Boat in Idaho?

what equipment must be on a boat
what equipment must be on a boat

In Idaho, we love spending time in the great outdoors. And one of the most fun ways to spend time outdoors is being out on the water.

But before you get out on the water, you have to prepare your boat. That involves getting your boat serviced for the season, picking out your favorite lake or river, and making sure you have everything you need on your watercraft.

The state of Idaho requires that you have certain items on your boat before you set out on your adventure. Keep reading below to learn about all of the items required on your boat in the state of Idaho!

Lifejackets & Life Preservers Are Required On Board

Idaho state law requires boaters to have one Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) for every passenger aboard the vessel.

Children under 14 are required to wear their life jackets at all times while riding a watercraft shorter than 19 feet in length. This rule also applies to jet skis and paddleboards.

Adults do not have to wear a life jacket at all times but it’s recommended. If the boat capsizes or gets into an accident, there usually isn’t enough time to put a life jacket on. Wearing a life jacket at all times can prevent the passengers on board from getting injured or killed in an accident. Therefore, the state of Idaho also requires that the life jackets be accessible and properly sized.

Boating Registration Required

Idaho requires boaters to carry their boating registration on their vessel at all times. The state of Idaho also requires boaters to have their current year validation stickers attached to each side of the boat near the front.

Fire Extinguisher

Accidents happen when you least expect them. The state of Idaho requires that boaters carry a fire extinguisher on their boat at all times. The fire extinguisher must be Coast Guard-approved, rated for marine use, and be either Type B or Type ABC.

Sound-Producing Device

More specifically, boaters must carry a horn or whistle. Your horn or whistle is important for signaling when you’re passing another boat. They’re also important for informing other boaters of your presence or dangerous conditions.

Navigation Lights

If boaters are traveling at night, or between sundown and sunrise, they must have navigation lights. These are important for visibility and ensuring other boaters know where other watercrafts are at night. Boaters are required to have:

  • Masthead Lights: This is a bright, white light on the masthead that casts an unbroken arc of light over the horizon at 225 degrees.

  • Sidelights: These are red and green lights fixed to the sides of the vessel toward the front. Red is for the port side and green is for starboard. If the boat is shorter than 39.5 feet in length, the lights must be visible from a mile away. If the vessel is longer than 39.5 feet, the lights must be visible from 2 miles away in clear conditions.

  • Stern light: Stern lights are fixed to the back of the boat and must cast an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135 degrees.

  • All-around lights: If the watercraft is shorter than 39.5 feet, they may use an all-around light in their vessel. This is important if the sidelights go out for whatever reason. If the watercraft is longer, a separate masthead and stern light are required.

Boaters may also be required to have flashing lights and towing lights.

Skier Down Flag

A skier-down flag is an orange or red flag that’s at least 1-foot square. This flag is to let other boaters in the area know that at least one person being towed is in the water. This is required whenever someone is being towed.


On the subject of people being towed in the water, whether by tube or wakeboard, the state of Idaho requires a competent observer is on board in addition to whoever is driving the boat.

Flame Arrester

This is not the case for all vessels, but boats with an inboard motor must also have a backfire flame arrestor and blower.

Hagadone Marine Group

Hagadone Marine Group is the largest on-the-water dealership in Coeur d’Alene. From rentals to sales, classic wood boats to gleaming new wakeboard craft, from the smallest service detail to a major rebuild, Hagadone Marine Group handles it all. Want to chat with us about required items for your boat? Call us at (208) 664-8274.