Saved by the Jacket


State law requires life jackets on every watercraft, whether it’s a motorized boat, jet ski, kayak, canoe, or even a paddleboard. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 84 percent of drowning victims who died from a boating accident were not wearing their life jackets. The best way to be “saved by the jacket” is to wear it at all times, no matter your level of swimming or boating expertise.

For more information about safe boating practices visit the National Safe Boating Campaign.

The Boating Education program is committed to providing Iowans with important resources and messages that save lives.

YouTube Channel: ACA | Canoe - Kayak - Raft - SUP - Rescue

Canoeing and Kayaking

Iowa has a variety of rivers, creeks, and lakes offering a number of different types of experiences for the beginner to the expert paddler. Canoeing and Kayaking in Iowa can offer year round enjoyment.

Learn more about the 18,000 miles of navigable streams that  await exploration by curious paddlers from across the state, and how to enjoy them safely.

Special Event Permits

A permit is required for regattas, motorboat or other boat races, marine parades, tournaments, or exhibitions etc. to be held on Iowa state waters. Permits must be received by the event organizer at least 30 days in advance of the event. If the event is being held on federally controlled waters, a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard is required.

Boating Laws and Responsibilities

The official Iowa boater safety handbook introduces you to laws governing boating and provides general information about safe operation on Iowa waters. 

Iowa's Handbook of
Boating Laws and Responsibilities
[Web Version]

2020 Recreational Boating Incidents

Personal Injuries              1
Property Damage 0
Fatalities 2

updated 04/01/2021

Boating Frequently Asked Questions

The operator of a vessel involved in an occurrence is required to file a report in writing whenever an occurrence results in loss of life; loss of consciousness, medical treatment or disability in excess of 24 hours or property damage in excess of $2000. The report must be submitted within 48 hours in death, disappearance, or personal injuries requiring medical treatment by a licensed health care provider, and within five days in all other cases. All reports shall be submitted to the local Conservation Officer, and shall include a full description of the collision, occurrence or other casualty. 

If you have any questions, call the DNR Des Moines Office - (515)725-8200.

*Note: If you are required to fill out a Vessel Occurrence Operator's report form, you must also contact your local Conservation Officer or local Sheriff's Department immediately, to report the vessel occurrence.

Vessel Occurrence Operator's Report Form

Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Bureau,
State Map with Contact Information

Hull Identification Numbers

Have questions regarding Hull Identification numbers?

We have you covered:
Hull Identification Number FAQ

Going Boating in Another State?

If you are going boating out of the state of Iowa, some states have additional requirements for out of state boaters. Please reference the Boating Outside of Iowa document for these requirements.