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Boating Laws

Know the Laws!

It is your responsibility to know and follow established rules and regulations. The following is a summary of those rules. In addition to state boating laws, local government and federal agency regulations may apply to boating activities in some areas. Contact the county sheriffs office or the federal agency for the area where you will be boating to find out if any additional regulations are in effect.

MCA 23-2-5

MCA 23-2-5 defines the laws for registering and operating watercraft in Montana.

ARM 12.8.212

ARM 12.8.212 defines the rules for boating and swimming areas.

ARM 12.11

ARM 12.11 covers no-wake zones, boat equipment requirements, and regulations for specific bodies of water.

Montana Boating Regulations

2020 Boating Regulations

PDF Version

Pages 1–44


Rules for Operating a Boat in Montana

These are the laws for operating a boat in Montana. Learn more

Required Equipment

Montana and federal laws require that basic safety items be on board all boats. Learn more

Rules of the Road

These rules of the road are the traffic laws of Montana's waterways. Like other traffic laws, they are legally binding on vessel operators. The rules dictate who has the right of way when vessels meet in open water and in crowded anchorages. Learn more

No Wake Zones on Lakes

The No-Wake zones vary depending on the size of the lake. Learn more

Closures & Use Restrictions

Closures and public use restrictions are in effect for reasons of public health, safety, or protection of property. Learn more

Aids to Navigation

Individuals and nonprofit organizations may identify hazards on state waterways by placing a sign or marker at the hazard. Learn more