Question: Are all passengers required to wear a life jacket or have one available for each passenger?
Answer: Each state has their own laws about the wear of life jackets. For more information, contact your state boating agency. Also, any boat over 16' is required to carry (except for canoes and kayaks) a Type IV throwable device.
As for children, the Coast Guard requires that each child under 13 wears a life jacket unless they are in a enclosed cabin or below decks. If a state has a different law for children than the Coast Guard, then the state law is followed in waters that the state has jurisdiction.
For a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, you will need to show each passenger has a life jacket that is Coast Guard approved. It is recommended that everyone always wears a life jacket. If you are not wearing one, you need to have it readily accessible and in working condition. A life jacket will not save your life if you cannot access it or it will not function.
For more information about life jackets, visit the Federal Requirements Brochure, and look at pages 9-16.