Why Do Charters and Guides Need a License
Licenses are required in order to legally carry passengers for hire in navigable waters. This includes charters for fishing, sightseeing, diving, transportation, teaching or any use which is considered a “passenger for hire” situation.
This license is properly termed “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” (OUPV) and is commonly referred to as the “6-pack” or “Charterboat Captain’s License”. The word “uninspected”, means that the equipment required and the design of the boat are less regulated.
“6-pack” refers to the 6 passenger limitation placed on the license. OUPV licenses are issued with a particular route or area for operation. The OUPV license may be upgraded to a Master license.
A Master license is only required if the captain operates an “inspected” vessel”. Inspected vessels are allowed to carry more than 6 passengers.
To become Inspected, the vessel must be built in accordance with rigid USCG Commercial Vessel Inspection standards. There are many Captains who maintain a Masters license, but do not carry more than 6 passengers. The advantage of this, is they are cognizant of issues which other captains of lesser experience or qualification may not consider.
All USCG licenses must be renewed every 5 years.
The US Coast Guard issues all Captain Licenses.