To operate most common types of large or motorized water vessels on both waterways and open coastal waters in the United States, you need to get a boating license. But the procedures and requirements to get a boating license is decided on a state by state basis as there is no national legislation for licensing requirements. Note that some states forgo the licensing process and instead ask residents to complete a state-approved boating program before operating most types of water vessels.

Individuals living in these states are mostly required to carry their proof of completion of the necessary course as a permit for boat operation. Some states also allow residents to apply for an online boating license or to enroll in an accredited web-based education program; while some also offer residents classroom-based boat certification courses that can be taken for a minimal fee if not offered for free by the community. It’s very necessary that boaters meet state eligibility requirements in order to operate a water vessel in that state.

Its very important to state that obtaining a boat license is not a requirement in every state of the U.S. In fact, some states like Tennessee, Texas and Washington state ask most boat drivers to complete a state-approved boaters safety course instead of applying for a formal license. Some states also require all boat operators to apply for a license or education training, while others only require drivers of a certain age to apply.

Many states classify water vessels into different classes of boats, some which require licensure and some that do not. Oftentimes, kayaks, canoes, small sailboats and similar non-motorized watercraft do not require licensure to be operated, but exceptions do exist. Have it in mind that boating license age for boat drivers varies significantly from state to state. In many cases, boat license requirements are divided up according to age groups.

Boating licenses and cards are issued by state agencies on a local basis and cannot usually be requested from national entities. Due to the fact that application procedures for licenses and cards is different from state to state, the total amount of time it takes to receive certification varies also. Most states offer short classroom courses that can be completed in a day and accept online courses that last between three to eight hours in duration.

How to Get a Boating License in Each State of USA

  1. Alabama

Note that a boating license is not required by boat drivers in Alabama, all operators of water vessels in the state must complete an approved education program. The minimum boating license age in Alabama is 12 years of age for motorized water vessels. In Alabama, no one under 12 years of age can independently operate a water vessel or PWC. The requirements for drivers who are 12 or 13 years of age include being supervised at all times by a licensed boater over 21 years of age.

Once a driver turns 14 years of age, he or she can drive a boat alone if the necessary education program has been completed. Note that there are two ways Alabama drivers can take the boater exam and receive the necessary qualification to operate water vessels in the state: online and in-person. Both the online and classroom based course cover the same topics and require that the driver pass an exam with the same format and question types.

The final exam consists of 25 questions, 20 of which must be answered correctly for the driver to pass the course. After passing the exam, the boat driver will receive a new automobile driver’s license with a “V” class or a “Vessel Only” license if the driver does not have an auto license. Meanwhile, individuals who would like to take the boat license test in-person can find an available course in their area by checking out the DPS’s list of approved programs.

Irrespective of whether an Alabama driver chooses to enroll in an online boaters safety course or classroom-based course, he or she can take the following steps to complete their education requirement:

  • Review enrolling courses in your area offered by the Alabama Department of Public Safety Driver’s License Division.
  • Begin reviewing the Alabama Boating Handbook and study guide to prepare for the course.
  • Head to the Safety Driver’s License Examining Office in your county to take the course exam OR complete your online final course exam.
  • Drivers applying in-person should receive a new license with the “V” or “Vessel Only” validation immediately. Drivers applying online must wait for the ALEA Marine Patrol to mail them their certificate of completion from the course. Once received, the boater can visit a DPS office and request a new license with the “V” validation.
  1. Alaska

A boating license is not required by drivers of recreational water vessels in Alaska. Although enrolling in a boaters safety course is highly recommended by the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, it is not required to legally operate a boat. Approved education programs cover a wide range of important boating topics that can be helpful for even experienced operators. Drivers do not have to pass any type of boater exam to be qualified to drive a boat in Alaska. In order to be able to drive a water vessel in Alaska, boaters simply have to meet the state’s age requirement.

The minimum age for operators of water vessels in Alaska is 14 years of age. Note that the requirements for any boater under 14 years of age include being supervised by an adult to drive any type of water vessel. All minors and adults over 14 years of age can operate most types of recreational water vessels in Alaska without prior permission. No residency requirements apply.

  1. Arizona

An Arizona boating license is not required for residents of all ages to legally operate most types of water vessels on public waterways. To meet the state boating license age, Arizona boat drivers must be 18 years of age or older. Young motorists who are between 12 and 17 years of age must follow different AZ boat license requirements, such as only being able to drive a watercraft under the supervision of a parent, guardian or another responsible adult.

While getting a boating license is not required for motorists in Arizona, enrolling in a state-certified education program is recommended by the AZGFD for drivers of all ages.

  1. Arkansas

Note that the boating license age in Arkansas is 12 years, if that person has received the necessary education certification. A driver born on or after January 1, 1986 is expected to pass a boat license test after enrolling in a certified education program. All boat operators born before this date do not need to complete any education program or licensing application to legally drive water vessels and PWCs in Arkansas.

The AGFC has approved both online boaters safety course options and classroom-based courses so that every driver can find a course to suit his or her specific needs. Signing up for an approved course is as simple as checking out the state’s recommended list of approved programs and choosing between online and in-person programs. Classroom-based programs are offered throughout Arkansas with course starting dates happening year round.

  1. California

Effective January 1, 2018, boat cards must be held by operators younger than of 20 years of age. While the new law currently applies to younger applicants, all California residents will eventually require a license. Individuals interested are mandated to apply for a boating license through the state’s online portal. In all cases, proof of having passed a boater course must be provided. When applying, you will have four options to submit proof. You must choose one of the following methods during the application process:

  • Upload your boat safety certificate.
  • Enter your safety course boat certificate ID number.
  • Mail your boating safety education certificate to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • Declare that you have not taken the course.

After you must have chosen the method of submitting your boaters safety course records, you may finish the application online. Follow the below steps to complete the process:

  • Choose the option marked ‘New.”
  • Enter your personal information, such as your name, age and address.
  • Choose one of the above methods to satisfy the educational requirements.
  • Pay the fee. The online portal accepts credit and debit cards. Payment may also be sent by check through the mail.
  • Print the confirmation

Immediately the application and payment has been received, you will be emailed a temporary card within three to five days. Temporary cards are only valid for 90 days. Your permanent license will be mailed to you within 60 days.

  1. Colorado

Technically speaking, no CO drivers need a license to drive a recreational boat in Colorado. Meanwhile, the boating license age to operate a motorized boat, sailboat or personal watercraft (PWC) without supervision in Colorado is 16 years of age. Note that these requirements are different for boaters 14 or 15 years of age, who must complete an approved education program in order to be eligible to operate a water vessel in Colorado.

Both adults and teens are eligible to sign up for a CO certified education program. These restrictions apply to boats propelled by motors or sails and PWCs like jet skis. Note that boat drivers can choose between enrolling in an online boating license course and a classroom-based program taught in-person at several locations across the state.

If a boater would like to enrol in a boating course taught in-person locally, he or she is expected to sign up online through the CPW web portal to save a spot. Drivers must be 16 years of age or older to enroll in an online course. Boat drivers who are 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the duration of the course. All courses carry a standard enrolment fee.

  1. Connecticut

Indeed some form of boating license is needed by all drivers who would like to operate any boat with a motor or large sailboat in CT. The basic boating license age in Connecticut is 16 years of age. Drivers who are younger than 16 years of age can only operate water vessels under the direct supervision of a licensed adult. Children 12 years of age and younger cannot operate motorized water vessels without supervision under any circumstances. The same age restrictions apply to drivers of PWC, who should enrol in a CPWO course.

Note that drivers cannot enrol in an online boaters safety course to meet the state’s education requirement and earn an SBC. Instead, all CT drivers are mandated to meet the education requirement through a classroom-based program that provides in-person lessons. Aside the CPWO and licenses issued by the USCG, there are two levels of SBC education that boaters can enrol in: the basic safety course and the DEEP’s Equivalency Examination for more experienced boaters.

Have it in mind that to pass the boat license test, drivers must be able to answer at least 80% of the exam’s questions correctly. Signing up for lessons is as simple as referring to the DEEP’s list of approved courses and enrolling in one of the options currently accepting students. Drivers are expected to complete an application form to enrol in the DEEP course. All courses cost a standard enrolment fee. Once completed, students can print the certificate of completion for a course one week after passing the course exam.

  1. Delaware

The boating license age to operate a PWC in Delaware without supervision is 16 years of age. Requirements for drivers of PWC are different than those for the operation of other types of water vessels, which require all drivers born in 1978 or thereafter to complete an education program. Drivers who are 14 or 15 years of age can drive a PWC under the supervision of an adult if they have taken the necessary course. Note that drivers can apply for an online boating license or complete an in-person course organized by the DFW.

Enrolling in a boater safety course online or in the classroom does not affect which topics are covered or what the student must know to pass the final course exam. Also note that boat operators in Delaware can easily find the right course for them by going through the DFW’s Boating Safety Course Schedule to see who is currently offering approved courses. Courses in Delaware are offered in single-day format if only covering basic topics when taught in-person.

Courses carried out online can be completed at the desired pace of the student but can also usually be completed within a day. In order to receive credit for taking the course, students may be asked to show their ID when participating in-person. State-approved courses are open to boaters of all levels and can be beneficial even to experienced operators of water vessels.

  1. Florida

Although a license is not required in Florida to operate a boat, an education card must be obtained. Florida’s Boating Safety Education Identification Card provides proof that the applicant has completed all of the state’s mandatory educational requirements. A boating license ID card may be applied for by residents of the state. Alternatively, a temporary boat safety certificate may be issued to eligible applicants visiting the state and wishing to operate a vessel on Florida waterways.

The temporary certificate is only valid for one year. To apply for a permanent card, you must first complete an approved education course. Methods on how to get a boating license are varied. Education fees may apply. Depending on the type of vessel, you may be required to register and title the boat with the FL DMV. Vessel registrations must be completed in person. Fees may vary.

  1. Georgia

Although Georgia boaters do not technically need to apply for a boating license to operate a boat in the state, many GA operators of water vessels are required to complete a state-approved education program before driving a boat. Note that the minimum boating license age in Georgia is 12 years of age to operate any water vessel.

Boaters who are 12 to 15 years of age must complete boating classes to be able to operate any water vessel and are only permitted to drive boats that are less than 16 feet in length and have less than 30 horsepower under the supervision of a qualified adult. Meanwhile, boat license requirements for all drivers include providing proof of identification when signing up for the course.

There is no residency requirement to receive a GA permit, but students may be required to request a GADNR Customer ID Number before they can sign up for an approved program. Boat operators in Georgia can sign up for a boater safety course online or in-person by checking out the DNR’s list of approved programs currently accepting students.

The state has approved several classroom-based and online boating course options to provide GA residents with multiple options to meet the state requirement. Note that the driver is often required to provide some form if ID, preferably by providing a GADNR Customer ID Number from other services rendered through the DNR. Also a spot in classroom-based boating classes can be reserved by creating a profile and signing up at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com.

  1. Hawaii

To get a boating license in Hawaii, individuals residing in the four different counties will have to first satisfy certain boat license requirements. The education requirement for boating in HI is similar to the licensing procedure that individuals must perform in order to operate motor vehicles on public roads. When applying for a certificate in HI, applicants do not have a strict boating license age requirement that they must satisfy in order to operate a boat or water vessel.

The rules for boaters younger than 16 years of age will differ from the rules for those older than 16 years of age. Since the HI DOBOR does not issue a boating license to boaters, they are required to obtain a boating certificate from an appropriate safety course. A boaters safety course may be taken either at a state-approved course provider, or through the NASBLA.

Boaters are highly encouraged to take one of the offered safety courses, if they want to operate their boats or water vessels legally. Completing the boating course will provide individuals with the needed certificates for operating a boat or vessel. Also, motorists who are younger than 16 years of age will have to obtain their personal certificates. However, that will not be enough for them to operate boats or water vessels.

Minor boaters who have obtained the corresponding certificate will be allowed to operate their boat or vessel only when supervised by a certificate holder who is 21 years of age or older. A certificate of completion of a Hawaii boating course will be granted to each individual who takes the course needed for operation of a vessel. Boaters are required by a state law to complete either a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) or a state-approved course.

  1. Idaho

Boaters do not need a license to operate a motorboat or watercraft in the state. Therefore, motorists are not required to complete an application procedure for a boating credential. Although there are no such laws, certain counties in ID have local ordinances that require residents to be within a certain age range in order to operate water vessels.

  1. Illinois

To get a boat certification in Illinois, interested individuals are expected to satisfy certain requirements first. Primarily, residents who are at least 10 years of age may operate a boat or a vessel, but they will be allowed to operate the watercraft only under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian until they turn 12 years of age. After that, boaters who are between 12 and 18 years of age will have to complete a boaters safety course, which lasts eight hours, in order to get a Certificate of Competency.

Have it in mind that according to the laws of the state, persons within that boating license age range may operate a motorboat only if they hold a valid State of Illinois Boating Education Certificate of Competency which is sanctioned by the Safety Education Section of the IL DNS. Moreover, they may also be allowed to operate a motorboat only when accompanied by a parent or guardian, or by a person who is at least 18 years of age and designated by the parent or guardian.

Individuals in Illinois who want to operate a boat or vessel must obtain a boat certification from a course provider, because licenses are not issued by the IL DNS. That is why individuals are encouraged to enrol in a boaters education safety course and take the needed classes either in a classic classroom setting or via an online course provider. The Illinois boating course is created for persons who are at least 12 years of age or older to receive the needed certificate of completion and to be able to operate a boat or vessel without endangering the other boaters’ safety.

  1. Indiana

To get an Indiana boat safety certificate, interested individuals are expected to satisfy certain boat license requirements first. For example, individuals may operate a motorboat only when they hold a valid driver’s license issued by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (IN BMV). Also, applicants must fulfil the main boating license age requirement which allows applicants to operate a motorboat when they are at least 15 years of age.

Individuals who are at least 15 years of age and who do not hold a valid driver’s license may operate a motorboat only if they hold an ID card or a photo exempt ID card, and if they have successfully completed a boating education course approved by the IN DNR. Have it in mind also that individuals, who are at least 21 years of age and do not hold neither a valid driver’s license, nor a driver’s license that is suspended or revoked, may also operate a motorboat if they are issued ID cards before January 1, 1996.

  1. Iowa

Note that to obtain a boat certification in Iowa, interested individuals need to first satisfy certain requirements. They must first satisfy the boating license age range in order to get the course certificate. They are also  expected to complete a safety course if they are between 12 and 17 years of age and if they plan to operate a personal watercraft (PWC) or a motorboat that is over ten horsepower.

Since an Iowa boating license is not issued to individuals, interested individuals may choose to get a certification as proof of completion of a safety course for boaters. At the end of the course, residents will receive a boater education card which can be used as a document for operating watercrafts or motorboats. IA residents may get a certificate by choosing one of the three methods for completing a boat course:

  • Course taken in a classroom setting
  • Iowa DNR Home-study Boating Education Course
  • Online course through one of the available online course providers
  1. Kansas

Boaters in Kansas who are from 12 to 21 years of age are mandated to complete a safety course successfully in order to operate a motorboat or watercraft. But, other individuals who are not within this boating license age range are also advised to enrol in a course and learn safe operating techniques. Boaters may have to satisfy other requirements as well, which apply to their specific situation.

Although the KDWPT does not issue a boating license, individuals in the state who want to operate a motorboat or a watercraft need to complete a safety course successfully. Note that to get a boating education certification, individuals need to choose one of the options they have for completing the corresponding course for operating a boat. The options for getting a boat certification are the following: to complete an online course, in a classroom setting, or by obtaining a home-study packet.

Course options may vary based on the county region where the applicants live, since Kansas state is the divided into five regions. Irrespective of the method boaters choose to take their boating course, at the end they will receive a certificate of completion, which they will be required to carry on the boat while operating it on open state waterways.

  1. Kentucky

To successfully get a boat certification in Kentucky, interested individuals may have to satisfy certain eligibility criteria. For example, individuals who want to operate a water vessel must be at least 12 years of age in order to operate a motorboat which has 10 horsepower or more. Also as part of the boat license requirements, future boaters may or may not have to complete a safety course in order to obtain a certificate for boating.

Note that individuals who are from 12 to 17 years of age must complete a boating course and obtain a Kentucky Safe Boating Certificate Card that they will have to carry with them when operating their boats. Also, they may also obtain a boat safety certificate after completing a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators NASBLA-approved course.

Also individuals who satisfy the boating license age requirement for individuals between 12 and 17 years of age will obtain a boat certificate that they will use vessels on state waterways. Applicants who are older than 17 years of age are strongly encouraged, but not mandated, to obtain a boat certification by completing a safety course. The boat safety certificate will enable KY residents, especially those from 12 to 17 years of age, to operate a boat or water vessel, since boating licenses are not being issued in the state.

  1. Louisiana

As part of the boat license requirements, every boater in Louisiana is advised to complete a safety course. According to Louisiana law, individuals who are born after January 1, 1984 are required to attend an LA boating school and obtain the appropriate certificate. They need to carry the certificate on board with them when operating a motorboat with excess of 10 horsepower.

Note that individuals in the state who are at least 10 years of age may qualify for a boat safety certificate, only if they operate their boats when accompanied by a person who is over 18 years of age. Individuals who are younger than 10 years of age may take the course, but they will not receive a certificate and will have to retake the course when they turn 10.

Although the LDWF does not require a boating license in Louisiana, interested individuals may need to obtain a certificate of completion from a boater course provider in order to operate their vessels on state waterways. A boat certification is not a mandatory requirement, but all residents are encouraged to complete a safety course and increase their safety skills of operating a boat.

  1. Maine

Note that before obtaining a Maine boat safety certificate for operating a water vessel, boaters in Maine may have to satisfy some eligibility criteria first. The boating license age range for enrolment in a safety course is from 16 to 18 years of age. Although, the requirements stipulate that boaters within this age range must operate a watercraft or motorboat under specific circumstances.

For example, boaters who are between 16 and 18 years of age are prohibited by law to operate a personal watercraft without holding an identification document proving their age. Also, they also need to hold a certificate of completion of a course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), except in a situation when they are accompanied by a person who is at least 18 years of age and who occupies the watercraft physically.

Note that the MDIFW does not issue licenses of operating watercraft and instead prefer residents enrol in a boaters safety course and get a certificate of completion in the end of the course. This certificate may be used for operation of water vessels and boats. In order to obtain a boat safety certificate in ME, boaters will have to take lessons online or in a classroom setting, depending on their preference. Individuals only need to choose a method of their choosing for taking a course and complete it successfully.

  1. Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has determined certain requirements that boaters in the state must satisfy if they want to operate a watercraft. Boaters are mandated to obtain a boat certification from a NASBLA-approved course provider when they are born on or after July 1st, 1972. The minimum boating license age limit for operators of personal watercraft is 16.

Individuals who are at least 16 years of age must possess a certificate in order to operate their personal watercraft. Boaters who have a personal watercraft must operate it at six knots or less when within 100 feet of another vessel, people, or other objects in the water. Note that since the MD DNR does not issue boating licenses, interested individuals need to get a certification from a course provider of their choosing.

They must first enrol in a boating school and complete the program successfully in order to obtain a certificate of completion. The DNR offers online and classroom courses, as well as the option to take and pass a boating equivalency exam.

  1. Massachusetts

Obtaining a Massachusetts boating license is a state requirement for boat operators of a certain age. Although, this license is more commonly referred to as a certificate. The boating license age is one of the most crucial eligibility requirements to be aware of when applying for a safety certificate. Applicants must be between 12 and 15 years of age to get a certificate for a motorboat, or be 16 or 17 years of age to get a certificate for a personal watercraft.

The other boat license requirements include passing the required course. Note that to get a boater education card in Massachusetts, you must complete an approved course. To do so, you need to find a program that is approved by the state’s Boat and Recreation Vehicle Safety Bureau and apply through the methods that they provide. Have it in mind there are multiple approved boating classes in MA that you can enrol in as long as you are the appropriate age. Once the education course is complete, you will receive your boat card.

  1. Michigan

Note that instead of requiring a boating license in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires most personal watercraft operators to obtain a boat safety certificate. There is no minimum boating license age requirement for residents to legally obtain a safety certificate in Michigan. It simply means that boaters of all ages can obtain a safety certificate if they wish to do so.

However, as per boat license requirements, there are certain boat operators that must obtain a certificate. Boaters born after June 30th, 1996 and personal watercraft operators born after December 31st, 1978 must enrol in boating classes in order to obtain a certificate so that they can legally operate their vessels. To get a boating license/certificate, you must enrol in and successfully complete a course from an approved boat education school. To do so, you must:

  • Enrol in the approved school of your choice through the methods required by that program.
  • Pass the exam.
  • Pay the applicable course fee, which is only required once you pass the exam.
  • Receive or print your safety card.
  1. Minnesota

The boating license age required to get an operator’s permit is 12 years of age in Minnesota. Motorboat operators between the 12 and 17 years of age and personal watercraft operators between 13 and 17 years of age are mandated to obtain the permit if they wish to operate their vessel without direct adult supervision.

Even though the general boat license requirements include these age criteria, adults who wish to learn more about boating safety are able to enrol in an education program and receive a certificate as well. To obtain a boating license or permit in Minnesota, the process simply involves enrolling in and completing an educational course. You must do the following:

  • Enrol in the approved school through the steps provided by that program.
  • Pass the boater exam.
  • Pay the applicable course fee.
  • Receive your card.
  1. Mississippi

One of the most one crucial boating license requirements in Mississippi is the age of the operator. The boating license age required for a resident to operate a boat without supervision is 12 years of age. Boaters who are younger than 12 years of age must always be accompanied by an adult who is 21 years of age or older aboard the boat. In Mississippi, the boating education card is essentially the same thing as a license. In order to obtain the card, you must enrol in a safety course. These are the following steps for obtaining this credential:

  • Enrol in a boaters safety course that is approved by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks.
  • Successfully pass the course and the exam.
  • Pay for the applicable licensing fee.
  • Receive your card.
  1. Missouri

Instead of getting a Missouri boating license, you must obtain a boater education card in order to operate a vessel on state lakes. In Missouri, there is not a specific boating license age that applicants must reach in order to enrol in an education course and obtain a certificate. Despite the fact that there is not an age limit for these education courses, there are age requirements for boat operations in Missouri. For example, state law mandates residents to be 14 years of age or older to operate a boat without supervision.

Applicants who are younger than 14 years of age may also operate a boat, but only if accompanied by an adult. Another important boating license requirement is that any boater born after January 1, 1984 must carry both their boater certification card as well as a photo ID in order to legally operate the vessel on lake waters. This type of identification credential may be an MO driver’s license or a photo ID card. To obtain a boater card in Missouri, you must:

  • Enrol in a course approved by the NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators).
  • Go through the course and pass the boat license test.
  • Pay any applicable fees.
  • Receive your card.
  1. Montana

The minimum boating license age in Montana is 13 years of age. On the other hand, there is no age limit for obtaining a certificate. It simply means that any resident who is 13 years of age or older can enrol in an educational program and obtain this boat certification. In addition, the only boat license requirements that must be met in order to get this certificate are completing the course and paying for the applicable fees.

Obtaining a boat safety certificate in Montana is a relatively simple process. First, you must enrol in an NASBLA-approved program. Then, you need to complete this course and pass the required boater exam. Once you have successfully completed this program, you will be required to pay for the applicable fees and will be issued an operator’s certificate.

  1. Nebraska

In Nebraska, the minimum boating license age required in order to enrol in a course and get a certificate is 14 years of age. Completing the course is a boat license requirement for anyone 14 years of age or older and anyone born after December 31, 1985 who wish to operate a vessel on Nebraska waters.

But, anyone 14 or older can participate in a safety course, even if they are not required to. In fact, it is highly advisable that everyone interested in operating a boat takes a course to learn more about boat safety and laws. To obtain your certificate, you must follow a few simple steps. These steps include the following:

  • Enrol in an NASBLA- approved boating classes.
  • Complete the course by passing the exam.
  • Pay any applicable fees.
  • Receive your education card or course completion certificate.
  1. Nevada

According to reports, there is no minimum boating license age. Anyone that is competent enough to complete the state’s boating education course is able to participate and receive a safety card. The requirements that must be met in order to get the certificate are simply completing the course and paying any applicable fees. The process for getting a boat card in Nevada is quite simple.

You must find and enrol in an NASBLA- approved program, complete the course and pass the required exam. Once you have successfully passed the exam, you must pay the fee, if required, and then you will be presented with your certificate.

  1. New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the  minimum boating license age required in order to obtain the certificate is 16 years old. Meanwhile, applicants may enrol in and complete a safety course at the age of 15, although the certificate will not be issued until the applicant turns 16 years old. Also, the State has strict age requirements for when a boat can be operated as well. These requirements state that:

  • No one younger than 16 years of age shall operate a motorized vessel with more than 25 horsepower on the public waters of the state unless accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older who holds a valid safe boater education certificate.
  • No one younger than 16 years of age shall operate a commercial vessel on the public waters of the state.

Note that the boat license requirements that must be met in order to get the certificate simply include enrolling in a course, passing the exam and paying any applicable fees. Once those steps have been completed, a certificate will be awarded.

  1. New Jersey

In New Jersey, a boating license must be obtained by individuals who want to operate a vessel on non-tidal waters in the state. Also, a NJ boat safety certificate must be obtained by motorists who want to operate power vessels on state waters. In general, these forms of certification can only be obtained after the completion of a boaters safety course that is approved by the New Jersey State Police department.

The minimum boating license age in New Jersey for applicants to obtain a safety certificate is 13 years of age. Have it in mind that the age requirements are different for applicants to obtain a license endorsement. To get an initial motorboat or jet ski license endorsement, residents must be at least 16 years of age.

The only boat license requirements that must be met in order to get a certificate or license is the completion of an approved safety course and the submission of a payment method for the applicable fees. To obtain the boating safety certificate you have to first enrol in an approved boat program and pass the required boater exam. Then, you will be responsible for paying any required fees. Afterward, you will be issued the safety certificate.

  1. New Mexico

As a general rule, you do not need a boat license to operate a vessel in the State of New Mexico. But you’ll have to obtain a boater safety card if you were born on or after January 1, 1989 and you intend to operate a motorboat. But the boating license age that is required for a resident to operate a boat without supervision is 13 years of age.

Motorists who are younger than 13 years of age are expected to have adult supervision on-board and they must be carrying their education card. Note there are no age requirements for taking a NM boating safety course. Anyone capable of comprehending the information can enrol and obtain a certificate of completion.  The steps for obtaining this credential are as follows:

  • Enrol in a state-certified boating course
  • Successfully pass the course and the exam
  • Pay the applicable licensing fees
  • Receive your card
  1. New York

Note that the minimum boating license age for personal watercraft in New York is 14 years of age. Generally, motorboat operators who were born on May 1, 1996 or after are required to obtain licensure. These permits are provided in the form of safety certificates administered by the state. Some drivers are exempt from this requirement, such as residents with certificates from the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Power Squadron or U.S. Powerboat ING.

To obtain NY boater education cards, motorists are mandated to complete a specific safety course in the state. Both online and classroom courses are available. Drivers can complete the following steps to receive boating license certification in the state:

  • Enrol in an online or in-person class through the state licensing agency. A variety of third-party organizations also offer courses. However, programs must be state-approved in order to be acceptable.
  • Study all of the materials provided during the class, including the New York boaters guide, which will prepare you for the final examination.
  • Take the boat card test after finishing the required hours of in-person or online instruction.
  • Pay all applicable fees using an acceptable payment method.
  1. North Caroline

Note that being eligible for NC boating certificates depend on a variety of factors, including age. No person younger than 14 years of age can operate a PWC over 10 horsepower. This rule is developed to ensure young drivers are especially safe on board. An additional boat license requirement is that residents must take a final competency exam to be granted certification.

The final examination is based on a variety of important safety concepts covered during classes. Boating license certification is available online and in-person for state residents. For either method, the following steps should be followed to obtain a license:

  • Locate an online or in-person safety course offered in the state. Courses must be approved by the Wildlife Resource Commission to be considered valid. A variety of third-party organizations offer classes at varying costs to students.
  • Attend the required hours of the course and complete all class components.
  • Take the boater exam in order to get final approval for education cards.
  • Pay any required fees to be issued a physical certificate by the state.

After the above steps are successfully complete, licenses are provided by mail to applicants.

  1. North Dakota

In North Dakota, boater requirements are especially based on the age of boaters. No person age 12 or younger is eligible to drive a motorized boat operating at over 10 horsepower. Also, drivers ages 12 to 15 must be supervised by a licensed adult age 18 or older. An additional boat license requirement is that boaters must complete a final competency examination to be granted certification.

Note that the state’s boater education cards are issued after successful completion of the boating education course offered in the state. Classes cover a variety of important topics for new boaters. Drivers can choose the method for getting a certification that is most beneficial. Both online and in-person classes are available. Drivers can follow these steps to complete the application process:

  • Enrol in an online or in-person safety class offered in the state.
  • Take classes for the required amount of hours.
  • Prepare for the final examination by studying concepts covered during classes. This information is also found in the state boaters guide.
  • Pass the official boater exam administered at the end of courses.

Furthermore, boaters must pay all required fees in order to get licenses. These are provided by mail only after the aforementioned steps are completed.

  1. Ohio

In the state of Ohio, boating license applicant age, residency status and education level is used to determine eligibility for driving privileges. State residents born after January 1, 1982 are required to obtain licenses if they wish to operate a watercraft with over 10 horsepower. Note that children are allowed to operate boats as long as they complete the required education components. Although, for personal watercraft like jet skis, age rules apply.

Residents younger than 12 years of age cannot operate personal watercraft. Children ages 12 to 15 can only operate watercraft under the supervision of an adult age 18 or older. To obtain boater education cards in Ohio, drivers must take safety courses in the state. These classes teach valuable safety lessons to students. Have it in mind that a required number of hours must be attended in order for boating privileges to be granted. Additionally, a final examination covers the concepts introduced. Residents must pass the final exam in order to receive licenses.

  1. Oklahoma

The state the state of Oklahoma, no person under age 12 is allowed to operate a motorized boat over 10 horsepower. Also, boaters 12 to 16 years of age must be supervised by a licensed adult 18 years of age or older. New boaters must also complete a competency exam to be granted certification. The state boater education cards are provided to boaters who complete the state approved boating safety course.

A variety of concepts are covered during these classes. For the convenience of applicants, both online and classroom boating license certification is available to Oklahoma residents. Have it in mind that no fees are due at the time of application. Licenses are provided by mail when the final examination is successfully passed.

  1. Oregon

In Oregon, residents 12 years of age and older must obtain licenses if they would like to operate a watercraft or boat at over 10 horsepower. The Oregon State Marine Board must approve education courses for certificates to be considered valid. For both boats and personal watercraft, boating license age restrictions apply. Residents younger than 12 years of age cannot operate personal watercraft or boats.

Kids age 12 to 15 can only operate watercraft under the supervision of an adult age 18 or older or driver age 16 with a valid education certificate. Boater education cards are obtained in Oregon after drivers complete safety courses in the state. All required components should be completed for boating privileges to be administered. Online and in-person courses are offered for the convenience of new boaters. The following certification steps are required for new applicants:

  • Choose whether to take classes in person or online.
  • Attend class for the required amount of hours.
  • Take the final boat card exam and pass by answering a certain amount of questions correctly.
  • Pay required fees to be issued certification cards.
  1. Pennsylvania

Boater education cards are easily obtained by drivers who successfully complete each step of the application process in Pennsylvania. A certain amount of hours must be spent in class or taking an online course for privileges to be granted. Drivers should anticipate their upcoming responsibilities to ensure the best outcomes are obtained. Follow these boating license certification steps to complete the application process:

  • Choose whether to take an in person or online course.
  • Find an approved in-person or online class.
  • Successfully pass the exam and pay required fees to the state.
  • When the final exam is passed and fees are paid, certificates are awarded to new boaters.
  1. Rhode Island

Knowing how to get boater education cards is helpful for residents of Rhode Island. Boaters have the option of obtaining licensure online or in person. A certain amount of hours must be spent taking either form of education. Furthermore, final examinations are administered for both types of courses. Boaters must pass exams to be given boating privileges. Boating license certification steps in RI include the following tasks.

  • Determine whether to take in-person or online classes.
  • Check with third party agencies to find specific courses available in the state.
  • Attend class for the necessary amount of hours.
  • Successfully pass the boat card exam and by answering the minimum amount of questions correctly.
  • Pay the required fees, if applicable.
  1. South Carolina

In South Carolina, age is a crucial factor in determining eligibility for obtaining driving privileges. Note that only residents 16 years of age and older can apply for licenses if they wish to operate watercraft in the state. Residents younger than 16 years of age cannot operate boats or personal watercraft.

In South Carolina, obtaining boater education cards is an easy procedure that can be completed by state residents. But it’s very necessary that applicants understand each step involved to avoid having issues come up during this process. The following boating license certification steps are used in the state:

  • Choose whether online or in-person courses are more fitting for your everyday schedule.
  • Check with third-party agencies to determine which specific class to take.
  • Attend the online or in person class for the required amount of hours.
  • Take the final examination. Drivers must pass the test by getting a specific amount of questions correct.
  • Pay all applicable fees, if necessary. Remember that only certain types of payment methods are accepted.

When fees are paid and the final exam is passed, certificates are granted by the state.

  1. South Dakota

In this state, boater education cards are obtained by those who successfully apply for boating privileges. Have it in mind that the process requires a specific amount of hours spent by residents in class or taking the online course. Understanding the application process is very crucial for boaters to efficiently and fully complete all necessary tasks. The certification steps for SD boat operators are as follows:

  • Decide whether online or in-person classes are more fitting to your schedule.
  • Find exact courses by searching for agencies offering boater education. Classes must be approved by the state to be considered valid.
  • Attend class for the exact amount of hours needed.
  • Pass the boat card exam, administered after the required class time is completed. Students must answer a certain amount of questions correctly to pass.
  • Pay required fees and collect physical certificate.
  1. Tennessee

Interested residents in Tennessee must be at least 12 years of age to sign up for a state-approved education program. Tennessee boaters who would like to receive the necessary boating course certification can take the following steps:

  • Carefully review the Study Guide for Tennessee Boater Education Certificate. This is the information that will be on the state licensing exam.
  • Go to a hunting and fishing licensing agent near you to purchase a Type 600 Boating Safety Exam Permit. You will need to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) and driver’s license at the time of purchase.
  • Locate your nearest TWRA exam location and sign up for an exam spot. Only drivers born BEFORE January 1, 1989 can enrol in an online boating course.
  • Take the exam. It should last about an hour.
  • If you pass, you will receive a temporary certification to use while you wait to receive your permeant certification document in the mail within a few weeks.
  • If you do not pass the exam, you can retake the exam as many times as necessary with the same permit.
  1. Texas

Residents of Texas have two education options available to them. Due to the fact that a license in the State is the equivalent of a boat safety certificate received from passing a TX approved education program, drivers must enrol in a certified course to receive the qualification necessary to legally drive a boat.

Immediately a boater has deemed it necessary to enrol in a boaters safety course, he or she can choose from an array of course options offered both online and in-person at locations across the state. Enrolling in a course is as easy as contacting the head of the course and signing up. A standard course fee applies to all student enrolments. Immediately this course has been passed, the student will receive a certificate of completion to be used as his or her TX license.

  1. Utah

In the state of Utah, the recommended online boaters safety course options approved by the DNR generally take just a few hours to complete in full. The online course provides permission to boaters 12 to 17 years of age to operate personal watercraft, such as jet skis, wave runners, etc. To obtain an online boating license, interested boaters can head to either of the recommended web portals and sign up for the appropriate Utah-approved course.

Immediately the student is ready, he or she can begin reviewing the necessary material to prepare for the final course exam. At the completion of the course, the student can take the exam and pay the standard course fee if successful. Note that individuals who pass the course can then print their certificate to keep with them when operating an applicable personal watercraft.

  1. Vermont

A boating license is required by minors and adults under a certain age by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD) to operate water vessels of any type in state waterways. Interested individuals can choose how to get a boating license either by enrolling in an online or an in-person education program that is up to state standards. Note that the primary requirements to be eligible for a license to boat in Vermont involve the age of the driver and the type of vessel he or she would like to operate.

Where to get a boating license in Vermont depends on where the driver lives in the state. In-person boating classes can be found throughout Vermont and most students are eligible to sign up for an online course to complete from the comfort of their own home. Students must pay the course fee only after having passed the associated final exam qualifying them to operate a water vessel. In-person courses can be signed up for by contacting the course provider and enrolling in the next available course.

  1. Virginia

Instead of actually issuing boating licenses, the VDGIF mandates all boat operators to take a state-approved education program and provide proof of course completion in lieu of an actual permit. Boaters looking to obtain a boating license must first decide whether they would like to enrol in an online or a classroom-based course. Most versions of the boaters safety course approved by the VDGIF are provided by U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and VDGIF representatives at locations across the state.

Boaters who would like to go for an online boating license have a few different options to choose from as well. Multiple companies offer VDGIF-approved boating classes that can be taken at any time and place to meet the state’s education requirement. Also, most of these courses carry a standard enrolment fee that is protected by a “no pass, no pay” protection. Signing up for an online program is as simple as contacting one of the state’s recommended web providers to fill out a request and start the independent course.

  1. Washington

The exact place to obtain a boating license in Washington D.C. relies on how a boater would like to take the approved course and is not affected by eligibility requirements. Most boaters are able to complete both the online and in-person courses within an afternoon or day program. Boat operators taking an online course can spread out the course over as much time is needed before taking the final course exam.

Immediately a boater has decided to take a boater safety course, he or she must choose between the approved options online and in person. Note that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Harbour Patrol offers one-day intensive boating classes during boating season. Interested parties must sign up for these classes by contacting the organizers beforehand.

This course is free of charge and students need only bring their photo identifications to participate. Also D.C. boat operators who prefer to take an online boaters safety course have a few different providers they can choose from. The Harbour Patrol offers a list of companies offering courses that are currently approved by the state. Once the exam is passed, the student must pay the license fee and print the certificate of completion as proof of meeting state requirements. A permanent certificate will usually be mailed to the driver in three to five weeks.

  1. West Virginia

Note that most boating classes approved in West Virginia last from four to eight hours, though significant variations in course duration and content exist. WV drivers who need a license can take the following steps to sign up for a state-approved boating school and receive the necessary certification:

  • Choose whether you would like to take an approved education program online or in a classroom. The WV DNR offers a list of qualified programs currently offerings courses across the state or on the web. Both free and fee-based courses can be found.
  • Sign up for the course of your choice. Study the WV boating guide and other applicable material to prepare for the course exam.
  • Take the required exam.

Once  you pass and receive your Certificate of Completion electronically or in print format. This is your license that should be kept with you at all times when operating a motor vehicle.

  1. Wisconsin

Interested individuals in the state can decide to get a boating license from courses taught online and classes conducted completely in-person. Note that the average online boater’s safety course can generally be completed within a day, while classroom courses are often day-based only if they do not include extended coverage of additional topics. To enrol in a DNR-approved program, residents must first apply for a Wisconsin DNR Customer ID Number.

This ID number is needed to register a boater’s participation in credited programs. It can be requested by any of these three methods:

  • Online: Head to the WI DNR website and submit your information to electronically receive your Wisconsin DNR Customer ID Number.
  • By Telephone: Call 888-936-7463 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to request an ID number with the help of a representative.
  • In-person: Head to your nearest DNR service centre during regular open hours to ask for an ID number in-person. A list of available locations is available from the DNR.

Boaters can enrol in the online or classroom-based boater safety course of their choosing once they have received their Wisconsin DNR Customer ID Number. Multiple providers offer courses that have been approved by the DNR and that offer valid certificates to permit legal boating.

  1. Wyoming

Have it in mind that the only requirement for getting a boat license or having the permission to operate a water vessel or PWC in Wyoming is meeting the state age requirement. Boaters must be 16 years of age to operate a water vessel in Wyoming.

Note that submitting an application and passing a boater exam is not required for boaters operating in Wyoming. Although the DNR encourages boaters to take a boaters safety course before operating a motorized boat or a PWC, it is not required. Only boaters of special types of water vessels need to look into state licensing.

Conclusion

Without doubts, the boating rules throughout the United States were established with the purpose of keeping boaters and swimmers safe while sustainably using our natural resources. Some of these regulations were established on a state by state basis, but many basic best practices are the same across state boundaries. Many of these regulations concern making sure that water vessels meet boat requirements like having the necessary Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and emergency signalling systems.

Note that the total cost for a boating license must be confirmed with the managing state agency in the driver’s home state. Report has it that some states ask minimal boat card application fees, while others provide the service free of charge. Also, in most states where some form of boating course is required, boat operators can usually find both free and affordable options that average around $30 a course.

Ajaero Tony Martins