We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How can I get a Boating License?

By Holly Collins
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Most states have mandatory boater safety education requirements. To meet these standards, completion of an approved safety course is usually necessary. Generally, these courses can be taken online or in a traditional classroom. Many of the programs require that participants pass an exam at the end of instruction, demonstrating a minimum understanding of the material.

The term boating license is sometimes used to describe the certificate or card issued when successful completion of a boating safety course is achieved. Calling these cards a boating license can be misleading, as very few states actually require a license to operate watercraft. In some states, the term boating license refers to the paperwork issued when a boat is registered.

In states where an actual boating license is mandatory to operate watercraft, it is usually in addition to a boating safety certificate. A boating license is issued by the state’s motor vehicle regulatory department, as opposed to a boater safety card, which is awarded by various state agencies tasked with regulating boating safety. If a state does require an additional boating license, it is awarded separately from the safety certificate. Alabama is the only state where an actual endorsement on a driver’s license is mandatory to operate a boat.

A boating safety card differs from an actual boating license in that it generally does not expire and can not be revoked. Obtaining one does not necessitate driving or operating a boat satisfactorily. They are acquired by demonstrating a basic understanding of watercraft safety. Completion of a watercraft safety course can reduce a boat owner’s insurance rates, even if not required to operate the craft.

Minimum age requirements vary from state to state and can be different depending on the type of watercraft being operated. Sometimes, personal watercraft and boat requirements are different. The size of the boat to be operated can be a determining factor in the operator’s minimum age. Generally, the larger and faster a watercraft, the higher the standards required to operate it.

A boating license, and a boater’s safety card, are commonly accepted state to state. The exceptions to this rule are Connecticut, Utah and Colorado where out of state certificates have certain restrictions. Boating safety is regulated by various state agencies, so individual state requirements differ significantly.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On May 16, 2014

You don't usually have to be as old to get a boating license as you do to drive a car, which has always puzzled me a little. In my state, you have to be 12 to get a boating license and 16 for a driver's license. I guess the state figures a boater isn't liable to be in the same kind of traffic as a driver. And usually, a boat operator, especially a young one, will have someone in the boat with him. That's not always the case with a car driver.

By Pippinwhite — On May 15, 2014

My state also requires classes before someone can get an operator's license. They are offered at different times throughout the year. Sometimes, the rescue squad offers them, along with the Coast Guard and Marine Police.

In my state, the same rules for DUI apply when on the water as on the road. Boating drunk is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.