How Old Do You Have To Be To Drive A Jetski?

As a teenager, you can be interested in trying various sports and games. For your next vacation, jet skiing can be an amazing experience for you and your friends. But before you get your hopes up, you should know that there is an age limit for driving jet skis.

The eligible age to drive a jet ski varies from state to state. The age is between 12 to 18 years depending on where you are jet-skiing. Each state has its own rules as shown below. Besides, a person’s physical and mental condition is considered for issuing a license to drive a jet ski. 

In this article, I will talk about how old you have to be to drive a jet ski. You will also get to know about the age requirements in different states of the U.S. to drive a jet ski or other personal watercraft (PWC). 



How Old Should You Be To Drive A Jet Ski?

If you observe the age requirements of different states, you will see that the age for driving jet skis range between 12 to 18 years. Again, most of the states have some conditions regarding allowing children to drive jet skis with and without the supervision of a licensed Jet Ski driver. 

Parental guidance and getting boating safety cards are strictly maintained in most of the states. Again, if teenagers want to rent a jet ski, they have to be at least 16 years old. Jet ski rentals will not be rented without proper identification. Children younger than 16 years must show their parent’s consent to rent a jet ski.  

Riding and driving a jet ski should not be taken lightly. Jet skis are powerful water vehicles that can reach up to 70 mph with 300 HP engines. So, the government has put restrictions on the age of Jet Ski operators. 

As children and teenagers tend to be inexperienced and reckless in driving vehicles, the government of the various states of America set an age limit for driving water jets and many other water vehicles.



How Age Requirements Vary in Different States 

As I have mentioned before, the age requirement varies from state to state. You might be allowed to drive a jet ski in your state at the age of 14. However, in another state, you may not be allowed as the legal age for jet skiing is 16 there. 

Now, you can choose a state where your age is allowed for jet skiing. There are jet-skiing sites in almost all the states of America. But we have narrowed down the most popular states for jet skiing and their age requirements for you. 

  • Age Requirement in New York  

The legal age for driving a jet ski in New York is 14. But you must get a boating license first. Besides, a licensed supervisor has to be present while you are jet skiing.   

  • Age Requirement in California 

If there is a licensed supervisor onboard, children aged 12 to 15 can operate a jet ski in California. To operate a jet all by yourself, you have to be 16 years old. Besides, you must have a California Boat Card. 

  • Age Requirement in Florida

Florida has the best locations for water sports and driving water vehicles. The government allows 14 years olds to operate a jet ski but strictly forbids children under 14. So, even if parents own a jet ski, they cannot allow their children under 14 to drive the vehicle. Moreover, a teenager under 18 years cannot rent jet skis from rentals in Florida. 

  • Age Requirement in Mississippi and Tennessee 

Mississippi and Tennessee are the most lenient states in terms of age limits for jet skiing. Both of the states set the age limit for jet skiing only at 12 years. You only have to pass an approved boating safety course. Similar rules are applied in Kentucky. 

  • Age Requirement in Texas 

Texas is also one of the flexible states in terms of allowing children for jet skiing. Children of only 13 or above years can drive a jet ski if they manage to pass the Texas Boarding Safety Course. Moreover, children under 13 can also operate a jet if they have a legal supervisor with them. 

  • Age Limit in Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina 

All these states are restrictive about allowing children to operate jet skis. If you are under 16, you cannot drive a jet ski in these states. You have to be over 16 years old to drive any PWCs. 

  • Age Limit in Michigan and Indiana

In both of these states, the minimum age requirement is 15 years. You do not have to pass any boating safety course to Jet Ski in Michigan. However, in Indiana, you must pass a safety course if you are under 18 to operate a jet ski. 

  • States With No Age Requirements 

Alaska, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, these six states have no age requirements for operating personal jet skis. So, even if you are younger than 12 years, you can still drive a jet ski in these states. However, each of these states has some conditions, which you can find in their PWC rules and regulations. 

Besides, I have already mentioned that no Jet Ski rentals will rent you their vehicles if you are under 16 years. The same rule applies to these states as well. The Jet Ski rental of these states will ask for an identification to prove you are 16 years old. They will also want your parent’s approval if you are under 16. 

There are about 60 states in the United States where you can have the experience of riding and driving jet skis. If you have not found your preferred state requirements in this article, you can click here to get more information on using personal watercraft in other states. 



Can You Be Too Old To Ride A Jet Ski? 

As jet-skiing is a very fast and exhilarating water sport, you may think that old people cannot drive them. But, in reality there is no age limit for adults to operate a jet ski. You can be 70 years old and still drive a jet ski if you are physically and mentally fit for it. 

Similar to very young children, some elderly people may not be able to operate PWCs on their own. Although it is not necessary, elderly people should have a helping hand with them. 

Again, people who are in their 50s and 60s are physically strong for jet skiing, but people in their 70s and 80s may not be physically fit to ride or drive a jet ski. Besides, they also have a high chance of getting back pain or other physical injuries in case of accidents. 

Therefore, elderly people should be sure about their physical well-being before they drive a jet ski on their own. They should also use a jet ski at a slow speed, have an experienced guide with them and choose the most “elder friendly” jet ski spots.  


Depending on where you choose to go jet skiing, the age limits can change. However, you can select a location where the age requirement matches your age. It is wise to take the help of a supervisor if you are too young to operate a jet ski. 


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