Do You Need A License To Drive A Boat? (Laws For All 50 States)

boat from above

Whether you’re planning on going swimming out in the lake, doing some fishing, or just joyriding in the water, you might be wondering if you need a license to drive that boat. The truth is the that boating laws vary from one state to the next.

So, whether you’re interesting in the laws of your current state, or one where you’ll be vacationing, then we’ve got you covered. Below we’re giving you the details for each state. 

And if you already have a license from your state, then rest assured that you’re covered on vacation because a valid boating license is valid in all states. Plus, it never expires!

Just keep in mind that a valid boating license comes from a course or class approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), which is the official licensing board across the entire USA.

Also keep in mind that since requirements vary by state, you may not need a license in your home state while you do in your vacationing state. So, always check before you plan a boating trip in a new state.

Below you’ll find the general boating license requirement for each US state. For more specific details on those requirements, please visit or contact the state’s boating license board/office.

Alabama

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 14 years old

As you can see, any one age 12 and up is required to have a boating license in the state of Alabama. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Alaska

  • Boating Education Required? No
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

As crazy as it might seem, the state of Alaska does not require a boat license and has no age requirements for driving a boat. Though, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

woman driving yacht

Arizona

  • Boating Education Required? No
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

Just like Alaska, the state of Arizona does not require a boat license and has no age requirements for driving a boat. Though, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Arkansas

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Anyone born after January 1, 1986 needs a boat license

As you can see, a boat license is only required in Arkansas for boaters born after January 1, 1986. As a result, there is no age limit restriction on driving a boat in the state.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

California

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes, a California Boater Card
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Currently anyone under 20 years old requires the license, but will be required of everyone by 2025.

In 2018, California updated their boating laws so that boaters are required to have a California Boater Card ($10 cost), if they are under the age of 20. However, when the year 2025 rolls around, the age limit restriction goes away and everyone is required to get their boat license in the state.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Colorado

  • Boating Education Required? Only during learning license age period
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  14 to 15 years old

What’s important to note about Colorado’s requirements, is that if you’re age 16 or older, then you do not need any boater’s education courses or classes. 

Though, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

guy in sunglasses driving boat

Connecticut

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, if more than 60 days on the water
  • Boating License Required? Yes, if more than 60 days on the water
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 1n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

Here’s what’s interesting about driving a boat in Connecticut – you only need a boater’s education and boating license if you plan on driving a boat in the state’s waterways for more than 60 days in a year.

So, if you’re only driving a boat for a couple of weekends or while you’re on vacation, then you don’t need the license or education.

Though, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

And take note that there are zero age requirements on who can drive a boat in Connecticut.

Delaware

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16; 0r 14 with a licensed adult
  • Learning License Age Period:  14 to 16 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1978

If you plan on driving a boat in Delaware, and you were born after 1977, then you are required by law to get your boater’s education and license. Just make sure that you’re taking a boating course that is approved by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.

And note that you need to be at least 16 years old to drive a boat by yourself, but if you’re in the boat with a licensed adult, then you can be as young as 14 and legally drive that boat.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Florida

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1988

If you plan on driving a boat in Florida, and you were born after 1987, then you are required by law to get your boater’s education and license. And, the boating education course that you take must be approved by NASBLA and the state of Florida.

Note that there are no minimum age limit restrictions on who can legally operate a water vessel in Florida. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

people on inflatable boat

Georgia

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, if you’re of the learning license age
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old*
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 15 years old

In Georgia, boaters under the age of 12 years old are not legally allowed to operate a boat, personal watercraft, or other vessel longer than 16 feet. However, anything shorter than 16 feet, with a motor under 30 horsepower, is allowed as long as an adult is also on the vessel.

Boaters between the ages of 12 and 15 years old are in the learning permit period, which means that they also are not legally allowed to operate a boat, personal watercraft, or other vessel longer than 16 feet. But, a boat under 16 feet can be operated by solo 12 to 15 years olds, provided a DNR approved boating course has been passed.

Boaters aged 16 and up do not require a boating license to operate a vessel independently, but an ID card (such as a driver’s license) is required to be onboard with the driver. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Hawaii

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 15 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

Any boater in Hawaii who is operating a vessel, including a personal watercraft, with a motor that is more than 10 horsepower is required by law to take a NASBLA- approved boating safety course. And you will need to have your certificate of completion with you onboard.

Anyone in Hawaii who is operating a personal watercraft is legally required to have a boating license and take two required education classes. The required classes are one-day Recreational Thrill Craft Operators Safety Educational Course (cost: $125) and the Ocean Safety Educational Course for tow-in surfing certification (cost $125).

Also note that you must be at least 15 years old to operate a personal water craft in the state of Hawaii. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

guy on jetski

Idaho

  • Boating Education Required? Only for personal water craft operators
  • Boating License Required? no
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

If you are going to operate personal watercraft in Idaho, even if you’re just renting it, then some boating education is required by law.

For other vessel, no boating education is required – unless you get convicted of an OUI (operating under the influence), or if you are repeat offenders of state boating laws. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Illinois

  • Boating Education Required? Learning age period only
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: No
  • Learning License Age Period:  10 to 18 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1998

If you plan on driving a boat in Illinois, and you were born after 1997, then you are required by law to get your boater’s education and have a valid state of Illinois Boating Safety Certificate. 

The minimum age to operate a boat in the state is 10 years old, but that’s only if the vessel is powered by a motor more powerful than 10 horsepower and if is a licensed adult over the age of 18 with the child.

Though, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Indiana

  • Boating Education Required? No
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 15 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  15 years old

If you are age 16 or older in Indiana, then the only thing you need to legally drive a boat is a valid driver’s license – and it can be from any state.

But if you’re 15 years old, then you cannot drive the boat unless you take and pass an Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) approved boating education course.

No matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

woman driving pontoon

Iowa

  • Boating Education Required? Learning age period only
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 17 years old

Anyone between the ages of 12 years old and 17 years old in Iowa can drive a boat over 10 horsepower if a boating safety course has been completed. And, the certificate of completion must be present with the underage boater at all times on the vessel.

Kids in this age group who are from out of state can instead show a NASBLA-approved license.

No matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Kansas

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, if under age 21
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 20 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1989

If you plan on driving a boat in Kansas, and you were born after 1988, then you are required by law to get your boater’s education and complete a NASBLA-approved course.

No one under the age of 12 years old can operate a boat unless there is an adult on board the vessel. Boaters between the ages of 12 years old and 20 years old can legally operate a boat if they have completed a NASBLA-approved course.

No matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Kentucky

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 17 years old

The minimum age to operate a boat with 10 or more horsepower in Kentucky is 12 years old. And between the ages of 12 years old and 17 years old, a valid Kentucky Safe Boating Certificate Card is required for solo operation of a watercraft in the state.

If you’re visiting as a tourist, or just don’t want the Kentucky card, then a certified completion of a NASBLA-approved boater course will suffice.

But no matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

guy in speed boat

Louisiana

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  under 16 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1984

If you plan on driving a boat in Louisiana, and you were born after 1983, then you are required by law to get your boater’s education and complete a NASBLA-approved course.

But no matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Maine

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  12 to 16 years old

The minimum age in Maine where you can be licensed and operate a boat with more than 10 horsepower is 12 years old, unless a licensed adult is with you.

However, if you want to operate a personal watercraft, the law requires that you are at least 16 years old. Those who are age 16 and 17 can operate a personal watercraft only if a safety education course has been completed. 

Those age 18 or older do not require any license or education.

But no matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Maryland

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, July 1, 1972

Were you born on, or after, July 1, 1972? If so, the state of Maryland requires completion of a boating safety education course before you can legally operate a personal watercraft or motorized vessel.

You can only take a course that’s been approved by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  And personal watercraft operators have to be at least age 16 and carry that certificate of completion with them on the vessel.

But no matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

man and woman driving boat in river

Massachusetts

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 16 years old

Anyone in Massachusetts under the age of 17 is required to completed a boating safety education course in order to legally operate a boat without adult supervision.

Though no matter how old you are, it’s still a good idea to take a NASBLA-approved course before taking a boat out in the water.

Also note that a boat license gets you a discount on boat insurance, so there’s another good reason to get yourself a license even though it’s not required in this state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Michigan

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, under 21 years old
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 15 years old

If you are 21 or older, then Michigan does not require a boating license or safety education course completion in order for you to drive a boat. But if you’re under age 21, then you do need to complete those things.

If you are under 12 years old, then you can only operate a boat in Michigan with less than 6 horsepower. But if someone age 16 or older is in the boat with you, then you can operate a vessel that goes up to 35 horsepower. 

Boaters between the ages of 12 years old and 15 years old can operate a boat up to 6 horsepower with no restrictions. But to operate something with more power, that boating safety education course must be completed.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Minnesota

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, if between 12 and 17 years old
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 17 years old

In Minnesota, if you want to drive a boat that’s got more than 25 horsepower, and you’re between the ages of 12 to 17 years old, then you are required to take some boating education courses before you can legally drive that boat.

If you’re out in the water on a personal watercraft, and you’re between the ages of 14 to 17 years old, then you either need someone age 21 or older with you OR you need a Watercraft Operator’s permit. And if you are 13 years old, then you are required to have both the permit and someone age 21 or older with you in the water.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Mississippi

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, June 30, 1980

In the state of Mississippi and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born on, or after, June 30, 1980, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

The course must be approved by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks though, so be sure to check that before you sign up for the course. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

woman driving sailboat

Missouri

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1984

In the state of Missouri and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born after 1983, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

The course must be approved by the state though, so be sure to check that before you sign up for the course. And you’ll have to be sure to carry your Missouri Boating Safety, Certification Card on you at all times when you’re out on the water.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Montana

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, if between 13 and 14 years old
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: 13 to 14 years old

The state of Montana only requires the completion of a boating education course if you are between the ages of 13 to 14 years old and operating the boat alone. If you have an adult on the boat with you, then you are not required to complete the boating course.

Keep in mind that this requirement applies to boats and personal watercraft with motors of 10 horsepower and higher. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Nebraska

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  14 to 18 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1986

In the state of Nebraska and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born after 1985, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

If you are between the ages of 14 to 18 years old and you want to drive a boat, then you either have to take the boating course or be accompanied on the water by an adult who has taken the course.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Nevada

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1983

In the state of Nevada and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born anytime after 1982, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

The course completion is only necessary if you are operating a boat with 15 horsepower or higher.

Keep in mind that the boating course must be approved by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

speedboat at sunset

New Hampshire

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  n/a

If you want to operate a boat in New Hampshire that has greater than a 25 horsepower motor, then you are required to take a boating education course that gives you a certificate of completion. And you must be at least 16 years old to drive the boat.

The state of New Hampshire accepts the following boating education certificates:

  1. A boating certificate issued by another State agency and NASBLA approved.
  2. A boating certificate issued by the US Power Squadron.
  3. A boating certificate issued by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  4. An unexpired commercial boating license issued by the US Coast Guard.
  5. An unexpired commercial boating license issued by the State of New Hampshire.

You can learn more about these state requirements here. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

New Jersey

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old
  • Learning License Age Period:  16 to 18 years old

Completing a boater safety education course and getting a boating license is required for all boat operators in New Jersey. The course that you take must be approved by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).

Once you get your certificate of completion for the course, you apply for your motorboat and jet ski license with the state. You must be at least 16 years old to do this. Note that a parent must approve and sign if you are under age 17.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

New Mexico

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period:  under 13 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1989

In the state of New Mexico and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born anytime after 1988, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

You can take the boating course at any age, and if you’re under the age of 13 then you need a Boater Education Card from the state. Boat operators under age 13 also must have a certified and licensed adult on the vessel at all times.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

New York

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 10 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 10 to 14 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, May 1, 1996

In the state of New York and wondering if you can legally operate a boat? If you were born on, or after, May 1, 1996, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

The youngest you can be and still take the course is 10 years old. If you are between the ages of 10 to 14 years old, and you have completed your boating course, you can operate a boat only if an adult is on the vessel. 

Also note that the minimum age to operate a personal watercraft is 14 years old in New York state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

girl driving boat

North Carolina

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: 14 to 16 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1988

In the state of North Carolina and wondering if you can legally operate a boat with 10 horsepower or higher? If you were born anytime after 1987, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

Also note that if you are between the ages of 14 and 16 years old in North Carolina and want to operate a personal watercraft, then you gotta take that course to get your license.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

North Dakota

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 15 years old

In North Dakota, no one under the age of 12 years old can operate a boat or personal watercraft with more than 10 horsepower, unless an adult is present. 

For boaters between the ages of 12 to 15 years old, they either must be accompanied by an adult or take a boating education course approved by the state.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Ohio

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 16 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1982

In the state of Ohio and wondering if you can legally operate a boat with 10 horsepower or higher? If you were born anytime after 1981, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and are carrying that boater education card with you on the boat.

No one under the age of 12 years old is allowed to operate a boat or personal watercraft in Ohio.

Boaters between the ages of 12 and 16 years old can operate a boat if they have earned their boater education card from an approved course AND an adult is in the boat. 

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Oklahoma

  • Boating Education Required? Learning age period only
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 16 years old

In the state of Oklahoma, you only have to take a boater education course if you are between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. And, you must have that certificate of completion in the boat with you at all times.

The youngest age you are allowed to operate a boat in Oklahoma is 12 years old.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Oregon

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 16 years old

In the state of Oregon, you only have to take a boater education course if you are between the ages of 12 and 16 years old and you want to operate a boat with 10 horsepower or more. And, you must have that certificate of completion in the boat with you at all times.

The youngest age in which you are allowed to operate a boat in Oregon is 12 years old. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

woman driving yacht

Pennsylvania

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 11 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 11 to 16 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1982

In the state of Pennsylvania and wondering if you can legally operate a boat with 25 horsepower or higher? If you were born anytime after 1981, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

Anyone, of any age, who wants to operate a personal watercraft in Pennsylvania is required to completed an approved course and get the license.

No one under the age of 11 years old is allowed to operate a boat or personal watercraft in the state. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Rhode Island

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1986

In the state of Rhode Island and wondering if you can legally operate a boat with 10 horsepower or higher? If you were born anytime after 1985, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

Anyone, of any age, who wants to operate a personal watercraft in Rhode Island is required to completed an approved course and and get a boating license in the state.

The state has no minimum age limit for boat or personal watercraft operation. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

South Carolina

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, learning age period only
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: under 16 years old

South Carolina is a bit different than most states. Here, boaters under age 16 who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft with 15 horsepower or more are required to take boating education courses.

Those age 16 and older do not have any education or license requirements in South Carolina. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

South Dakota

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, learning age period only
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 14 years old

In South Dakota, you must be at least 12 years old to legally operate a boat with more than 6 horsepower, unless an adult is also on the boat. And if you are under age 14, then you cannot legally operate a personal watercraft without the presence of an adult.

South Dakota does not require boating education for boat operators over age 14, though it is recommended that all boaters take a boater safety course that is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Completing a course course allows you to boat in states that do require a boater education card and may help you save on boat insurance.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

guy driving boat

Tennessee

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? n/a
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: under 12 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1989

In the state of Tennessee and wondering if you can legally operate a boat in the state? If you were born anytime after 1988, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

If you are under the age of 12, then you can only operate a boat in Tennessee if there is a licensed adult in the boat. Also note that Tennessee law requires that you are at least 16 years old to rent a personal watercraft in the state.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Texas

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 13 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: under 13 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1993

In the state of Texas and wondering if you can legally operate a boat in the state? If you were born anytime after 1992, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

If you are under the age of 13, then you are not allowed to operate a boat in the state of Texas. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Utah

  • Boating Education Required? Yes, learning period age only
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 16 to 17 years old

Boaters under the age of 16 in Utah can only drive the boat in the presence of a licensed adult. And then, the minimum allowed age is 12 years old.

If you are between the ages of 16 to 17, then you are required to get your boaters education course completed. But if you are age 18 or older, then you are not required to take any courses in Utah.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Vermont

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 10 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 10 to 12 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1974

In the state of Vermont and wondering if you can legally operate a boat in the state? If you were born anytime after 1973, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

You must be at least 10 years old to take the course and get approval to drive a boat in Vermont. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

woman driving boat

Virginia

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 14 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 14 to 15 years old

In state the state of Virginia all boat operators of boats with 10 horsepower or more are required to complete a boater education course and get that boater card at the end of completion. This rule has been in place since July 1, 2016.

The minimum age allowed to operate a boat or personal watercraft in the state is 14 years old. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Washington

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? Yes
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 20 years old

Since 2008, the state of Washington has required anyone operating a boat with 15 horsepower or more to completed a boating education course approved by the state. Additionally, you have to be at least 12 years old to operate a boat, once you have completed your boater’s course and have a valid Washington Boater Education Card.

Boat operators older than 14 years old can legally operate a personal watercraft only if they have a valid Washington Boater Education Card. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

West Virginia

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 12 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: 12 to 14 years old
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1987

In the state of West Virginia and wondering if you can legally operate a boat in the state? If you were born anytime after 1986, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course and gotten your boating license in the state.

Boaters in the state who are between the ages of 12 and 14 years old can only operate a boat if they have completed a boating education course AND a licensed adult is in the boat with them. Age 12 is the youngest you are allowed to operate a boat in West Virginia.

Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Wisconsin

  • Boating Education Required? Yes
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: 16 years old
  • Learning License Age Period: n/a
  • Other Requirements: Only required of people born on, or after, January 1, 1989

In the state of Wisconsin and wondering if you can legally operate a boat in the state? If you were born anytime after 1988, then the answer to that question is only if you’ve completed a boating education course.

Age 16 is the youngest you are allowed to operate a boat in Wisconsin. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

Wyoming

  • Boating Education Required? No
  • Boating License Required? No
  • Minimum Age To Operate: n/a
  • Learning License Age Period: under 16 years old

In Wyoming, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to operate a boat or personal watercraft by themselves. If you are under age 18, then you can only operate a personal watercraft or boat if an adult is on the vessel with you.

No education courses are required by the state of Wyoming. Check BOATsmart! to find an online boating course now.

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