Laws & Regulations

The waters of Lake Norman are regulated by the statutes of North Carolina, the Lake Norman Marine Commission, NC Wildlife Resources Commission and by the counties that surround the lake, Catawba County, Iredell County, Lincoln County & Mecklenburg County.

Listed below are laws you should know (Please Note: This information in not Warranted or Guaranteed. It is not the scope of this website  to provide the complete law. It is only the intent of this website to bring attention to some common laws).

  • A Boater Safety and Education Course is required for all boat operators born after Jan 1st, 1988. LEARN MORE
  • Anyone under 13 must wear a Personal Floatation Device in a boat that is under power. LEARN MORE
  • All of Lake Norman has a no-wake zone within 150 feet of any dock, bridge, marina, boat ramp, and within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying a flashing blue light. No wake speed is idle speed or a speed creating no appreciable wake. LEARN MORE
  • All boats must have a muffling system for noise control. LEARN MORE
  • While open containers and consuming alcohol on a boat is allowed, Boating while impaired laws are strictly enforced and are the same as driving a motor vehicle. Beer and unfortified wine are allowed on any vessel, but mixed beverages, spirituous liquor, and fortified wine are only allowed on a vessel which can be considered to be a secondary residence.
  • No littering.
  • There is no discharging of holding tanks allowed into the Lake.
  • It is illegal to possess Sterile Grass Carp without a permit.
  • Rafting of three (3) to ten (10) vessels shall be conducted at least 100 yards from the Rafting of eleven (11) or more vessels shall be conducted at least 300 yards from the shoreline. (b) One (1) or two (2) vessels may be tied or anchored within 100 yards of the shoreline, but they must be at least fifty (50) yards from any other vessel or group of vessels tied or anchored together.
  • Every vessel operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise shall display bow and stern lights.
  • Special rules for Personal Water Craft (PWC) LEARN MORE
    • Anyone under the age of 16 is required to be certified to operate a PWC or boat; No one under 14 can operate a PWC on the water.
    • A PWC cannot be operated at any time between sunset and sunrise.
    • The operator and all passengers on a PWC must be wearing a personal flotation device.
    • Any person being towed by a boat or PWC must wear a personal flotation device.


For a safe day on the lake, the following is the required equipment on all boats. Further detail by class of boat can be found on the North Carolina Wildlife Commission website

  1. Lights – Red to Port (left), Green to Starboard (right), 360 degree white all around light or 135 degree stern light and 225 degree masthead light. Sailboats under sail alone shall exhibit the combined lantern (red to port, green to starboard) and 135 degree stern light, but no 225 degree masthead light.
  2. Wearable PFD for each person on board (Type I, II, or III may be onboard or Type V if worn).
  3. Fire extinguisher sized appropriately for vessel.
  4. Whistle or sound producing device.