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Boating Regulations by State Boating Education Requirements

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on August 5, 2019. In

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State
Boating
Laws
Boating Education Regulations Reciprocity
accepts boating safety certificates from other states and/or NASBLA-approved courses.
Alabama Minimum age to operate 12. Boating license required – proctored exam required to obtain license. Non-residents may operate up to 45 days without a license.
Alaska No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Arizona No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Arkansas No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
California No mandatory boating education laws. Minimum age to operate is 16.  California boating information. Yes
Colorado Colorado residents – age 14-15 – who operate PWCs required to complete boating safety course. Home study is not accepted for this age group. Yes
Connecticut All operators of vessels registered in, or who own property in, CT must successfully complete an approved boating course or pass the CT challenge exam. PWC operators must take proctored, state-approved PWC classroom course regardless of residency. Other vessel operators may take the CT challenge exam. No
Delaware Delaware residents born after 1/1/78 must complete an 8 hour boating course. Yes
District of Columbia No details available. Yes
Florida Florida residents born after 9/30/80 must successfully complete a NASBLA approved boating course. Home study is accepted – Florida boating regulations. Yes
Georgia Georgia residents 12 to 15 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating safety course. Home study is accepted. Yes
Guam No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Hawaii No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Idaho Required for repeat marine offenders, those convicted of OUI or aggravated BUI. Yes
Illinois Illinois residents at least 12 years of age and less than 18 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is not accepted for this age group. Illinois boating regulations. Yes
Indiana All motorboat operators in Indiana must have a valid driver’s license to operate on all public waters. Operators who are at least 15 years of age and don’t have a driver’s license may operate a motor vessel if they take a NASBLA-approved Boater Education course and have an I.D. Card issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Home study is accepted – Indiana boating regulations. Yes
Iowa No mandatory education requirements. Minimum age to operate a boat 6 hp or over is 12. Iowa boating regulations. N/A
Kansas Anyone born after January 1, 1989 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course prior to solo operation of a PWC, motorboat or sailboat. Home study is accepted – Kansas Online Boating Safety Course. Yes
Kentucky Kentucky residents 12 to 18 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is not accepted for this age group. Minimum age to operate over 10 hp is 12. Yes
Louisiana No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Maine No mandatory boating education requirements. Maine boating regulations. N/A
Maryland Maryland residents born after 7/1/72 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. See note and Maryland boating regulations. Yes
Massachusetts Massachusetts residents 12 to 15 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is not accepted for this age group. Yes
Michigan
  • A Michigan resident 12 but less than 14 may operate a personal watercraft if he or she obtained a boating safety certificate before January 1, 1999.
  • Michigan residents born after December 31, 1978 shall not operate a personal watercraft unless they obtain a boating safety certificate from a classroom course with a proctored exam.

All non-resident PWC operators must have a boating safety certificate from a NASBLA approved course.

Yes
Minnesota For those 12-17 years of age who want to obtain their Minnesota Watercraft Operator’s Permit – you need to go directly to the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources Website:
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/education.html to find out the course options available to you.
Yes
Mississippi Persons born after 6/30/80 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is accepted – Mississippi boating regulations. Yes
Missouri Missouri’s Boater Education Law went into effect January 1, 2005. The law states that any person born after January 1, 1984 must successfully pass a Missouri Boater Education class/test before operating any motorized vessel.

Information on classes can be found here: http://www.mswp.dps.mo.gov/Education/SafetyClassList.asp

For all non-Missouri residents, the boater education law does not apply to you until January 1, 2006. At that point, you will need to have a Missouri Boater Education card or another state’s NASBLA approved card if your birthday is after January 1, 1984.

Yes
Montana Montana residents 13 to 14 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is accepted. Yes
Nebraska Persons less than 14 years of age shall not operate a motorboat or Personal Watercraft on waters within the State of Nebraska. As of January 1, 2004, any motorboat operator (including personal watercraft) at least 14 but less than age 18 must complete a Boating Safety Course and be in possession of a course certificate when operating the boat. The only acceptable course for those under 18 is Nebraska’s 6-hour classroom course with a proctored exam. The passing score is 70%.

Nebraska boating regulations.

Yes
Nevada No mandatory boating education requirements. Nevada boating regulations. N/A
New Hampshire New Hampshire does not accept this online course. N/A
New Jersey  New Jersey Requirements:

New Jersey has a new law affecting all boaters in the State.

New Jersey requires a proctored exam so completing the online course will not automatically make you eligible for a boating safety certificate. You will still have to go in to take a proctored exam.

Those 13 years old and younger who have completed an approved Boating Safety Course may operate a vessel powered solely by an electric motor or a vessel 12 feet long or longer with lass than 10 HP.

Those 16 years old or older and have completed a Boating Safety Course can operate any power vessel.

If you were born in 1969 or later you must possess a Boating Safety Certificate by June 1, 2006.

If you were born in 1959 or later you must possess a Boating Safety Certificate by June 1, 2007.

If you were born in 1949 or later you must possess a Boating Safety Certificate by June 1, 2008.

All persons who wish to operate a power vessel must possess a Boating Safety Certificate by June 1, 2009.

State issued documents
New Mexico No mandatory education requirements. Must be at least 13 to operate without adult supervision. N/A
New York In New York, you must attend a classroom course and hold a safety certificate if:

  • You operate a personal watercraft, regardless of your age, in New York State.
  • You wish to operate a motorboat (including personal watercraft) and you are at least 10 years old and less than 18 years old.
  • If you are less 10 years old you may operate a motorboat (non-PWC) only if someone over 18 or someone between the ages of 10 and 18 who holds a safety certificate, is on board with you. Anyone may operate a personal watercraft if someone at least 18 years old is riding on the craft and they hold a safety certificate.

List of approved courses currently available can be found at: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/

A safety certificate issued to a resident of another state or country is acceptable provided the certificate is carried while operating in New York State. Please note the certificate must be issued by the state or country of residence, and should be NASBLA approved.

North Carolina No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft (PWC). A person at least 14 years of age but less than 16 years of age may operate a PWC if:

  • The person is accompanied by a person at least 18 years of age who occupies the PWC; or
  • The person possesses ID proof of age and a boating safety certificate or card indicating satisfactory completion of a National Association of Boaing Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety course such as this one
  • ID and boating safety certification must be produced upon request of an officer. .

This age requirement became effective on November 1, 2005. The age requirement of 14 years does not apply to persons who were 12 or older on November 1, 2005.

It is unlawful for the owner of the PWC or for a person who has responsibility for a person under 16 to allow that person to operate a PWC except as provided above.

North Carolina boating regulations.

N/A
North Dakota North Dakota residents age 12 to 16 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved course. Home study is accepted – North Dakota boating regulations. Yes
Ohio As of 1/1/2000, Ohio residents born after 1/1/82 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved course to operate a powerboat or PWC of 10 hp or more. Home study is accepted – Ohio boating regulations. Yes, if states meet Ohio’s requirements
Oklahoma No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
Oregon Oregon’s Mandatory Boater Education Program will be phased in beginning January 1, 2003 when persons age 30 and younger who operate boats greater than 10 hp will need to apply for and carry an Oregon Boater Education Card. Also, a person must be 12 or older to operate a powerboat. Youths 12-15 will need a card to operate powerboats 0-10 hp alone. When operating boats greater than 10 hp, youths must be supervised by a card holding adult. Other age groups will be required to have a Boater Education Card as follows: 40 and younger in 2004, 45 and younger in 2005, 50 and younger in 2006, 60 and younger in 2007, 70 and younger in 2008 and all ages in 2009. To meet educational requirements a person must successfully complete a boating safety course approved by NASBLA and the Oregon State Marine Board. Several online and classroom courses are approved. After successfully completing an approved course, boaters should submit an official application form, $10, and a copy of their boating safety course certificate to the Oregon State Marine Board. Yes
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Boating Safety Education Certificates are required for:

  • all operators of personal watercraft;
  • youth 12 to 15 years of age when operating boats powered by motors of more than 10 horsepower, and;
  • boat operators born after January 1, 1982 that operate motorboats of more than 25 horsepower.

This online course is not approved for Pennsylvania residents meeting the above requirements. It is, however, approved for out-of-state residents boating in Pennsylvania.

Not for PWCs
Rhode Island PWC operators under the age of 16 must take a proctored exam. Rhode Island boating regulations. Yes
South Carolina Persons under the age of 16 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved course to operate solo. Home study is accepted – South Carolina boating regulations. Yes
South Dakota No mandatory boating education requirements. South Dakota boating regulations. N/A
Tennessee Anyone born after January 1, 1989 must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam. 

No other certificate will be accepted as meeting the requirements of the law.

N/A
Texas Texas residents born after 9/1/84 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved course to operate a motorboat over 10 hp or sailboat over 14′. Home study is accepted – Texas boating regulations. Yes
Utah Mandatory Education for PWC operators between the ages of 12 and 17. PWC operators must complete the state’s home/classroom study course for certification. This course is not accepted for certification of those 12-17. Once certified: the operator must carry a copy of the course certification card at all times, while operating the PWC. Those 12-15 may operate the PWC if someone 18 years of age or older accompanies the individual aboard the PWC or the individual age 12-15 may operate the PWC alone if and only if the individual operates the PWC within visual supervision of another individual, 18 or older. Children ages 16-17 may operate the PWC alone. Yes
Vermont Persons born after 1/1/74 must successfully complete a NASBLA-approved boating course. Home study is accepted Yes, NASBLA approved
Virgin Islands PWC operators under 18 must successfully complete a boating safety course.
Virginia PWC operators age 14-15 must complete a NASBLA-approved boating safety course. Home study is accepted – Virginia boating regulations. Yes
Washington No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A
West Virginia As of 1/01/2001, persons born after 12/31/86 must complete a NASBLA-approved boating course to operate any motorboat. West Virginia boating regulations. Yes
Wisconsin 12-16 year olds must take a boating safety course. Home study is accepted. Yes
Wyoming No mandatory boating education requirements. Minimum age to operate is 16. N/A

About Chris

Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.

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