Guiding and the use of Public Vessels   PV

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I want to take people on my boat. Do I need a Public Vessel License? If your boat is mechanically propelled and you are charging a fee you may need a Public Vessel license.This fee can be direct or indirect compensation.

On what lakes will I need a license? You will need a public vessel license on all New York State bodies of water expect for the Hudson and Mohawk River, NYS Barge Canal, Lake Erie and Ontario, Lake Champlain and Greenwood Lake, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca Lake, New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and the Great South Bay.

How do I get a License? You need to be at least 18 years of age and pass the Public Vessel Operator’s exam.

What happens if I fail the exam? You must wait two weeks prior to contacting MSU for a retest. Most retests are given in Albany. If it is during the inspection season, you may be able to arrange a retest in the field at an inspector’s convenience.

I have a USCG license; do I need to take the exam? If you have a current USCG License you will not have to take the Public Vessel Operator’s exam. You will need to file a application for a Public Vessel Operator’s license, with a copy of the front and back of your USCG license and submit a check for $20.00 for your original New York State Public Vessel Operator’s license.

I am a New York State licensed guide, do I need to take your exam and have my boat inspected? Many individuals who register with the Department of Environmental Conservation as a fishing guide, on the waters noted above, may not be aware that they must meet the requirements of the NYS Navigation Law as well. If you operate a guide service that uses a mechanically propelled boat for fishing, hunting or boat to drop off clients at trail heads or wilderness camps on the waters noted above, you are considered a public vessel.

Where can I get the forms for a Public Vessel Operator’s license? The Application for a Public Vessel License is found at the following website-

If, in the course of your guiding activities, you intend to use a mechanically propelled vessel to move people, gear, food, game or the like, for a direct or indirect fee you are required to be properly licensed and, your vessel must be inspected annually.

Please read the important information below.  Following that you will find both a link and contact telephone number.  The link will take to to the study guide and the license application in one PDF file. 

After looking over the on-line study guide and application, if you have want to arrange to take the exam, you can contact OPRHP at 518 474-0445. 

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