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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (visit the agency website for most recent regulatory updates)
Board of Game and Inland Fisheries

Watercraft: Safe and Reasonable Operation of Vessels [4 VAC 15 ‑ 390]
Guidance Documents
Chapter Information
Description This regulation provides for safe navigation on the waters of the Commonwealth by giving the boating public, both Virginia citizens and visitors to the state, boating "rules of the road." On Virginia's rivers, lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, these rules are the equivalent to the motor vehicle codes on our highway system, and help make boating safe for both the recreational and commercial user. Established within this regulation are such vital rules as those for "right of way" in traffic, and the horn signals to be used to alert boaters of impending danger. When personal automobile operators and commercial truckers share the highway, both are licensed. In the boating environment, operators are not required to be licensed and often are operating on open water which may be without visible markers or signage. Under these conditions the rules for safe operation provided by boating regulations are of the utmost importance. Commercial operators on Virginia's public waters need to know that the often less-experienced recreational boaters on the waters will operate within specific parameters so as not to impede their lawful effort to harvest aquatic resources or transport cargo. This regulation provides the framework for a mutual understanding among operators as to what is expected of them, and what to expect of those operating around them, so as to operate on the waters safely.
State Authority Section 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia . Regulations for boat operation .
Federal Authority n/a
Exempt from APA No, changes to this chapter are subject to the Administrative Process Act and the standard executive branch review process.
Text of Regulation Link to Virginia Administrative Code
Goals of Regulation To prevent or minimize boating-related fatalities, injuries, and property damage. To improve and standardize boating safety by making the rules of safe and reasonable operation consistent with national standards.
Meetings See all meetings (10) relating to this chapter.

Contact Information
Name / Title: Frances Boswell  
Address: 4016 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23230
Email Address:
Telephone: (804)367-9149    FAX: (804)367-0405    TDD: ()-
Current Actions
Action Title Latest Stage Status

Past Actions
Action Title Latest Stage Status

Past Periodic Reviews
Date Filed Status
12/19/2000 Retain As Is