Personal watercraft and jet skis


Playing on the water is more popular than ever. Remember to show consideration for others when you are on the water. You must hold a license for operators of personal watercraft and observe the regulations for preventing collisions at sea when operating personal watercraft or using jet skis.

The regulations always apply to you as a user no matter whether you own or hire the personal watercraft/jet skis.

Six things to remember as a user

  • You must have a license for operating personal watercraft.
  • Do not operate within a 300-metre zone from the coast.
  • A blood alcohol content of max. 0.5 promille.
  • Life jackets or swim jackets must be available for everyone on board.
  • The regulations for preventing collisions at sea apply also to personal watercraft.
  • Observe local navigational regulations.

1: Requirement for a license for operating personal watercraft

A personal watercraft is a small, powerful and planing vessel that it requires competences to operate. That is why you must have a license for operating personal watercraft. You must be 16 years old to get a license for operating personal watercraft, and the license must be carried when at sea.

Persons who met the requirements for operating a personal watercraft prior to 1 January 2018 because they held a certificate for yachtsmen or a certificate of competency as a navigating officer, are still allowed to use personal watercraft until 1 January 2020; after this date, they must also have acquired a license for operating personal watercraft through the passing of the practical part of the test.

2: Regulations for operating along the coast

As a general rule, it is prohibited to use personal watercraft/jet skis closer to the coast than 300 metres. Within the 300-metre zone, it is only permitted to use these vessels perpendicularly to the coast at a speed below 5 knots. It is prohibited to use personal watercraft/jet skis in nature reserves, conservation areas and wildlife reserves. Read more (in Danish) on the website of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency under the headline "On the sea" and in the order on operation of personal watercraft issued by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark (in Danish).

3: Regulations on the blood alcohol content

A blood alcohol content of 0.5 promille applies in connection with the use of personal watercraft and jet skis.

4: Life jackets or swim jackets for everybody

A life jacket or swim jacket must be available for everybody on the personal watercraft. Read more about swim jackets and life jackets (in Danish).

5: Regulations for preventing collisions at sea

The regulations for preventing collisions at sea also apply to personal watercraft. This means, inter alia, that you must proceed at a "safe speed" in consideration of foreseeability and traffic density as well as rowers and swimmers.

You have a duty to give way to traffic from the starboard side and you have an unconditional duty to give way to sailboats and rowboats. If you have the duty to give way, you must do so in good time so that the other vessels can see that you are giving way. It is important to show consideration and good seamanship to other vessels and to observe one's duty to give way so as to avoid that a trip to sea ends in an accident.

When the sun sets, a personal watercraft also has a duty to carry lights: Green to starboard, red to port side and white to the back. Read more about the regulations for preventing collisions at sea (in Danish).

6: Compliance with local navigational regulations

It is important to familiarize oneself with local navigational regulations. They are available from the website of the Danish police (in Danish) under each region. There can also be navigational regulations applicable to individual ports. In some areas, it is perhaps prohibited to operate personal watercraft, such as in the Port of Copenhagen, and in some areas there are perhaps speed limitations. See the website of the Danish Port Pilot.

New regulations under way

Together with the insurance sector, the possibilities are being examined for introducing mandatory liability insurance for personal watercraft. This will make it easy to hold somebody responsible and claim compensation, and it will make it easier to identify personal watercraft and their owners.

Together with the Ministry of Justice, the possibilities are being examined for confiscating personal watercraft in case of irresponsible operation. At the same time, it is being checked whether it is possible to suspend a person's license for operating personal watercraft so as to intervene as appropriate in case of insane sailing.

You must be aware of this when buying or importing a personal watercraft

When buying a personal watercraft in Denmark or importing one from a country outside the EU, you must be aware of requirements for CE marking. Personal watercraft built in an EU country after 1 January 2006 must be CE-marked.

Personal watercraft that have been imported from a country outside the EU and taken into use or marketed for the first time in an EU country after 1 January 2006 must also be CE-marked.

You should familiarize yourself with especially the most important engine emission and noise requirements.