The British Surfing Association (BSA) wants schools to be licensed because it fears a growth in such schools could lead to a rise in accidents.
The BSA is concerned that unqualified instructors lack vital training in first aid and life saving.
Around 70% of BSA approved surf schools are based in Devon and Cornwall with an estimated 250,000 regular surfers in the UK.
BSA marketing director Karen Walton said: "There are no laws or guidelines set out so anybody, whether qualified or not, can set up their own surf school."
Paul Benney, head RNLI lifeguard for Restormel in Cornwall said the problem of cowboy surf schools was making his team's job more difficult.
"We get surf schools turning up with 20 or more people per instructor at least," he said.