What Do You Need to Obtain a Boating License?

If you are interested in obtaining a boating license you can be prepared to a similar process as obtaining a regular driver's license. While not quite as extensive, obtaining a boating license will still require that you successfully complete a boating course and pass a final test. You will have to be familiar with the mechanics of operating your craft, as well as all necessary safety procedures regarding navigation and weather conditions.

Finding a Certification Course

To find a boating license certification course, check your nearest department of recreation. You will probably be able to find courses more amply in the spring and summer. The length of your boating education will depend largely on the craft you are seeking to be licensed to drive.

The larger and faster your craft is, the more education you will be required to participate in. This makes sense, as larger and faster boats pose a greater safety risk both to you, your passengers and other boaters. For more specific information, consult your department of recreation.

You can find some boating license classes online, but you aren't doing yourself any favors by utilizing these classes. You will want to gain hands on experience in your boating education. You'll want to be around water and similar crafts to truly learn everything you need to know to be a safe boater.

Traditional classes will also afford you the opportunity to interact with the instructor, allowing you to ask questions as needed and receive feedback. Both of these things are crucial to your boating education.


There are a few restrictions to be aware of in seeking your boating license. Like driving a car, a fully licensed boat operator must be at least sixteen years of age. Children between the age of twelve and sixteen may obtain a provisional boating license, but must also complete boating education requirements, and must always be supervised by a licensed adult when operating a boat.

Most state boating licenses will be acceptable across state borders, but if you are planning to do some boating out of the state in which you are registered, make sure you check up on their regulations before you head out. And of course make sure you meet that state's age requirement to be a licensed boater. Even though it may feel like a long process to obtain your boating license, it is a well thought out process, designed to make you as safe and prepared a boater as possible.