Boater safety exam guide

Boater Safety Course: State Summary

Written by Boatsetter Team
June 11, 2021

Alabama: Any motorized boat operator over 12 years old is required by Alabama law to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card. However, boaters cannot operate solo until the age of 14. 

Alaska: Alaska doesn’t require you to undertake a boating safety course if you want to take out a boat rental. However, it is always recommended that you do so, and it could save you on insurance!

Arizona: A boating safety course isn’t required in Arizona, so if you want to get out and enjoy the waters of Lake Mead or Lake Mohave, then you are free to do so. If you undertake a boater safety course, though, you’ll enjoy them much better as a safer and more confident boater. 

Arkansas: If you’re born on or after January 1, 1986, then the state of Arizona requires you to pass a boat safety test for you to enjoy some of its superb bodies of water.

California: Boating laws are currently changing in California. As of January 1, 1986, boaters aged 35 or younger must undertake a boating course. From 2025 this shall apply to everyone. 

Colorado: If you’re aged 14 or 15, you are required to take an in-class boat safety course if you want to drive a motorboat. From the age of 16 onwards, you can switch over to the online course you can do at your own pace. 

Delaware: If you’re taking out a motorboat in Delaware, then you need to undergo a boating safety course if you were born after January 1, 1978. If you were born before, we still recommend that you do!

District of Columbia: If you’re lucky enough to be out driving a motorized boat in DC, then you need to pass a boater safety course and carry a boater education card with you when you’re out on the water. 

Florida: If you were born on or after January 1, 1988, and the engine of your boat is more than 10 HP, then you’ll need to take a boat safety course so that you can truly enjoy the likes of Tampa Bay, Miami, and the Keys.

Georgia: If you were born in 1988 or beyond and want to enjoy some world-class boating on a motorized boat in this southern state, then you’ll need to take a boater safety course. 

Hawaii: Want to enjoy some stunning beaches and volcanic views from the water? Your first step is to take Hawaii’s boat safety course. Do it online and at your own pace if you plan to take out a boat with over 10 HP or jet ski. 

Idaho: Although a boat safety certificate isn’t required here, it’s always best to take one. If you find yourself stuck in the water, you’ll know what to do, react quicker, and take precautions to prevent disaster.

Illinois: If you were born from 1998 onward, then a boat safety certificate is required if the boat’s engine is more than 10 HP. Even if you were born before, we always recommend taking this cheap and straightforward online course.

Indiana: From 15 onward, you need to obtain a boat safety certificate if you don’t have a driver’s license. Nevertheless, if you want to enjoy the water here, we strongly recommend taking the course. 

Iowa: If you are aged 12-17, then an Iowa boat safety course needs to be undertaken if you want to enjoy the water here. This applies only for boats with more than 10 HP or PWC’s, but we recommend that everyone takes the course anyway. 

Kansas: If you wanna hit up some of the best spots in Kansas, then you’ll need to take the course if you are aged 12-20 and you’ll be on a powerboat, sailboat, or jet ski unaccompanied. 

Kentucky: To enjoy great spots such as Lake Cumberland a boat safety course is recommended. It is mandatory if you are aged 12-17 and are heading out solo on a boat with more than 10 HP.

Louisiana: Louisiana is a great place to hit up and enjoy some fun in the sun on the water. To drive out on a boat, you’ll need to undertake a boating safety course if you were born after 1984.

Maine: You’ll need to take on a boat safety course in Maine if you’re under 18 years old. Even if you’re older, we recommend that you do so, so that you can maintain and operate your boat safely and properly. 

Maryland: If you were born after July 1, 1972, then a boat safety course is required from you. The course is fairly short and can be completed online, meaning you can do it on your own time. 

Michigan: With this state touching four of the Great Lakes, great boating opportunities are abounding. If you want to drive a motorboat and were born after June 30, 1996, then you need to take a boating safety course. Likewise, if you wish to head out on a jet ski, you need to take a course if you were born after December 31, 1978.

Minnesota: If you’re aged 12-17, you’ll need to get a boat safety certificate if it’s over 25 HP. Similarly, if you want to take out a jet ski rental, you’ll need to get that certificate if you are aged between 14-17. 

Mississippi: If you want to enjoy some of the great boating opportunities that await you in Mississippi, then you’ll need to take on a boating safety course if you were born after June 30, 1980. 

Missouri: In Missouri and born from 1984 onward? Time for a boater safety course. However, we recommend that you older fellas all take the course too, to reinforce your knowledge. 

Montana: If you’re aged 13 or 14 in Montana, then a boating safety course is required from you. Although, we recommend that everybody sharpens up on their boating knowledge!

Nebraska: If you were born in 1986 onwards, you’ll need to sign yourself up for and pass a boater safety course. This applies to all vessels, and you’ll need to be at least 14 years old to get going.

Nevada: If you were born from 1983 onward, then you’ll need to pass a boating safety course if you wish to take out a Nevada boat rental. You should all be aware of preventing disaster, so this boat safety course is a great idea.

New Hampshire: If you are aged 16 and take out a boat with an engine over 25 HP in New Hampshire, then get the online course booked now!

New Jersey: To enjoy this great boating state, everybody must first pass their boating safety course. Once you have passed, don’t forget to keep your certificate with you at all times on the water. 

New Mexico: The law over in New Mexico states that if you were born from 1989 onward, you have to take a boating safety course. This is straightforward and can be done online. 

New York: As of 2020, New York has kicked off a new law that requires a new age group to pass the course each year. All boat operators need to pass a boater safety course and carry a New York boater card by January 1, 2025. 

North Carolina: If you plan on taking out a boat rental that has an engine with HP greater than 10, then you’ll need to take a boater safety course if you were born from 1988 onward.

North Dakota: A boater safety is required in North Dakota if you are aged 12-15 years old. With the course only priced at $34.95, we recommend that everyone undertakes a course as you cannot put a price on safety.

Ohio: There is some great boating fun to be had in the north of this state over at Lake Eire. If you wish to enjoy it and were born from 1982 onward, then you’ll need to book the boat safety course for your boat rental trip to go ahead.

Oklahoma: The law here requires boaters aged 12 to 15 to undertake the boating course if their engine is more than 10 HP or if they are on a sailboat if it is 16 feet or longer. 

Oregon: To take out a boat in Oregon, you need to be at least 16 years old and pass the boat safety course. Once you’ve successfully passed the course, you’ll need to pay a $20 state fee and carry your card with you when you’re out on the water. 

Pennsylvania: If your Pennsylvania boat rental is over 25 HP then the boater safety course must be passed. Additionally, you need to carry your card with you at all times. 

Rhode Island: For those born from 1986 onward, a boater safety course is required for you to enjoy some of the great bodies of water around here. Just remember to carry your boater safety card with you when you’re out on the water!

South Carolina: If you’re under 16 and will be heading out unaccompanied, then a boater safety course is mandatory. Even if you’re not in this age bracket, we still strongly advise that you undertake one to enjoy the water properly. 

South Dakota: A boating safety course isn’t required in South Dakota, but we recommend that everybody undergoes one. As a little incentive for you, the course here is a bit cheaper than in other states at under $20!

Tennessee: If you’re hitting up Tennessee for a boat rental, then make sure that you pass the state’s boater safety course before you do so. All boat drivers need to undertake this course if they were born from 1989 onward and carry the card received upon completion afterward when they are out on the water.

Texas: Texas is one of the truly great boating states with its Gulf of Mexico waters and wonderful inland lakes. If you were born on or after September 1, 1993, you’d need to to the oater safety course if your boat’s engine has more than 15 HP or if you’ll be enjoying your time here aboard a jet ski.  

Utah: In Utah, a boat safety course is not required unless you plan on taking out a jet ski rental and you’re aged 12-17 years old. However, we strongly encourage anybody serious about making boating a regular hobby to take on this course so that you can be safe on the water. 

Vermont: If you’re a Vermont resident or you’ll be hitting up the state for a spot of fine boating, then you should be aware that is you were born in 1974 or after then you’ll need to sign up for the states boat safety course and pass, which you can do online. 

Virginia: It would be a shame to be in Virginia and to miss out on some of the great rivers and the coastal waters of Cheapespeake Bay. So if you will take out a boat with an engine that has more than 10 HP or a jet ski, then the state’s boat safety course must be completed, which you can do online. 

Washington: You’re sure not to be disappointed if you hit up Washington State’s bodies of water. To completely avoid getting disappointed, make sure that you complete the state’s boating safety course so that you can sail about freely. 

West Virginia: To enjoy some of the great boat rentals on offer in West Virginia, you’ll need to complete a boat safety course if you were born after December 1986. Once you’ve successfully passed, don’t forget to carry your license with you when you’re out on the water! 

Wisconsin: Lake Michigan is the great boating attraction of Wisconsin, but you’ll need to pass a boater safety course first. Those born from 1989 onward are required to, whilst those before are recommended to.

Wyoming: You don’t need to pass a boat safety course to go sailing around Wyoming. It’s highly recommended that you do, however, and not only will it aid you in taking better safety precautions, but it may save you money on boat insurance too!

 


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