Harbor Patrol

Permit Conditions

U.S. Coast Guard

City Boat Ramps


Port of Seattle

Located on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle's waterways play a significant role in the life of the city. Many special events seek to take advantage of the beauty and recreational opportunities these waterways provide.

Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol

Special events using Seattle waterways are reviewed by Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol. Harbor Patrol determines if any police staffing is required for the event to insure the safety of event participants and other users of the waterway.

Special Event Permit Conditions

All special events on waterways must comply with the following conditions and any additional conditions set by Harbor Patrol or other authority:

  1. The event will not commence without the Harbor Patrol boats in place as required by permit.
  2. An official representative of the event must be available via VHF marine radio or cellular phone during the event. The sponsor shall identify the person-in-charge on the day of the event and the phone number for that person.
  3. Any changes such as course, number, or size of rescue boats, times, etc., are subject to Harbor Patrol approval.
  4. Participants and officials of the event will have no special privileges other than those specifically addressed in the permit.
  5. The sponsor of the event shall be solely responsible for the safety and cancellation for the event should weather or conditions arise that may endanger life or property of participants or spectators. This does not prevent the Harbor Patrol from canceling the event should they feel the sponsor is not responding to conditions or predicted conditions.
  6. Participants will abide by all Federal rules of the road and not severely inhibit the use of the Ship Canal.
  7. Event sponsors will inform all participants that commercial traffic will have the right-of-way should a conflict arise.
  8. Emergency requests to the Harbor Patrol Unit shall take priority over the continued protection and possible temporary or continued suspension of the event.

U.S. Coast Guard

Special events on waterways under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard require approval from the U.S. Coast Guard. Applications for approval are due 135 days before the event. More Information

City Boat Ramps/Launches

Parks and Recreation manages seven motorized boat launches on Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Ship Canal. A permit is required for anybody using a ramp lane regardless of where you park your vehicle and trailer. More Information

Bridges (Including Drawbridges)

See Bridges and Roadway Structures in Street Use section of this Handbook for information on events that will affect or modify normal bridge operations.

Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle has more than 60 acres of parks and public access sites along Seattle waterways. Port of Seattle properties are not permitted through the Seattle Special Events permit. More Information

City of Seattle Boating Centers and Moorage

City of Seattle Harbor Code

King County Lake Services and Information

Special Events

Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94708, Seattle, WA, 98124-4708
Phone: (206) 684-8017
Fax: (206) 684-7025

The City of Seattle plays a strong role in helping event planners bring people together safely and successfully in both city-wide and neighborhood events.