Do I Need a License to Drive a Boat? (Clear Info for 50 States)

Written by Shawn Buckles in Resources

If you're thinking of getting your boating license, but aren't sure whether you need to get it, this article is for you. Here, I'll go over the requirements for each state.

I'll also show how to get your license and link to where you can get your boating license.

Click on your state below to learn what you need and how to get it:

Whether getting your license is required or not (for some states it's not), I recommend getting it anyway. It's cheap and a good way to learn the basics of boating safety. Once you have it, you are licensed for life. So let's quickly go over each state and find out how to go about getting your license. You can probably have it today.

Alabama

All persons who operate a motorized boat on Alabama waters need to obtain an Alabama Vessel License. You must be at least 12 years old to get your license.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. You'll have to visit a DPS Driver's License Office to pick up your license.

I recommend to get your license here.

Alaska

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Arizona

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Arkansas

California

If you operate a motorized vessel on California waterways you will be required to have a California Boater Card. The law will be phased-in for all boaters over the next 8 years.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. You'll have to apply on the state's website for your card.

I recommend to get your license here.

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

All operators born after December 31, 1977 must have a Delaware Boating Safety Education Certificate to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

District of Columbia

Anyone operating a vessel on District of Columbia waterways is required to have a Boating Safety Certificate.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. You'll have to visit a DPS Driver's License Office to pick up your license.``

I recommend to get your license here.

Florida

All boaters born on or after January 1, 1988 who operate any motorized watercraft of 10 HP or more need a Florida Boater Education I.D. Card.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Georgia

License name: the Georgia Boater Education Card

Anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1998, must have a Georgia Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Hawaii

License name: Hawaii Boater Education Card

As of November 10th, 2014, anyone who wishes to operate a motorized boat over 10 horsepower or a PWC is required to obtain a Boater Education Card.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Idaho

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Illinois

License name: Illinois Boating Safety Certificate

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1998 who operates a powered watercraft of 10hp or more needs a Boater Safety Certificate.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Indiana

License name: Indiana Boater Card

All boaters at least 15 years old and will be operating a motorboat or PWC but do not have an Indiana driver's license need a Boater Education Card.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Iowa

All boaters between the ages of 12 and 18 must have an Iowa Watercraft Safety Certificate to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Kansas

License name: Kansas Boater Education Card

All boaters between the ages of 12 and 20 years must have a Kansas Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft or sailboat.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Kentucky

License name: Kentucky Boater Education Card

All boaters between the ages of 12 and 17 years must have a Kentucky Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Maryland Boater Education Card?

All boaters born on or after July 1, 1972 must have a Maryland Boater Education Card to operate any numbered or documented motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Massachusetts

I recommend to get your license here.

Michigan

Any motorized boat operator born after June 30, 1996, is required by law to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card. In addition, boater education is also required for all PWC operators born after December 31, 1978.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Minnesota

I recommend to get your license here.

Mississippi

License name: Mississippi Boater Education Card

All boaters born after June 30, 1980 who operate any motorized watercraft must have a Mississippi Boater Education Card.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Missouri

Montana

License name: Montana Boater Education Card

All boaters 13 or 14 years old must have a Montana Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Nebraska

License name: Nebraska Boater Education Card

All boaters born after December 31, 1985 are required to obtain a Boating Course Certificate to operate a boat or personal watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Nevada

License name: Nevada Boater Education Card

All boaters Born after January 1, 1983 must have a Nevada Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft over 15 HP.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

New Hampshire

New Jersey

License name: New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate

All boaters who operate a motorized watercraft in New Jersey must have a New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the proctored exam.

I recommend to get your license here.

New Mexico

License name: New Mexico Boater Education Card

All boaters born after January 1, 1989 must have a New Mexico Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

New York

License name: NYS Boater Education Course

All boaters born on or after May 1st, 1996 are required to successfully complete an approved boater education course in order to operate a motorboat.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

North Carolina

License name: North Carolina Boater Education Card

All boaters born on or after January 1, 1988 must have a North Carolina Boater Education Card to operate a motorized watercraft of 10 HP or more.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

North Dakota

License name: North Dakota Boater Education Card

All boaters between 12 and 15 years of age must have a North Dakota Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft of 10 HP or more.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Ohio

License name: Ohio Boater Education Card

All boaters born after December 31, 1981 must have an Ohio Boater Education Certificate to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Oklahoma

License name: Oklahoma Boater Education Card

All boaters between 12 and 15 years of age must have an Oklahoma Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP or sailboat 16 feet or longer.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Oregon

License name: Oregon Boater Education Card

All operators of motorized watercraft over 10HP must have an Oregon Boater Education Card.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Pennsylvania

License name: Pennsylvania Boater Education Card

All boaters born on or after January 1st, 1982 to operate a motorboat greater than 25HP or who operate a personal watercraft, regardless of age must have a Pennsylvania Boating Safety Certificate.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Rhode Island

South Carolina

License name: South Carolina Boater Education Card

All boaters under 16 years of age must have a Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft without adult supervision.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

South Dakota

License name: South Dakota Boater Card

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Tennessee

License name: Tennessee Boater Education Card

All boaters born after January 1, 1989 must have a Tennessee Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Texas

License name: Texas Boater Education Card

All boaters born after January 1, 1989 must have a Tennessee Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Utah

License name: Utah Boater Education Card

All boaters between 12 and 17 years of age must have a Utah Boater Education Certificate to operate a personal watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Vermont

Virginia

License name: Virginia Boater Safety Course

All PWC operators age 14 and older and all motorboat operators regardless of age need to take the boating safety course.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Virgin Islands

License name: Virgin Islands Safe Boater Card

All boaters who operate a personal watercraft in the Virgin Islands and all boaters between the ages of 14 to 18 are required to complete the safe boating course.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Washington

License name: Washington State Boater Education Card

All boaters must have a Washington State Boater Education Card to operate a motorized watercraft of 15 HP or more.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

West Virginia

License name: West Virginia Boater Education Card

All boaters born after December 30, 1986 must have a West Virginia Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Wisconsin

License name: Wisconsin Boater Card

All boaters born on or after January 1, 1989 must have a Wisconsin Boating Safety Certificate to operate any motorized watercraft.

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

Wyoming

License name: Wyoming Boater Card

You can get your license by doing an online course and taking the exam online. After passing the exam, you can immediately print out your license yourself.

I recommend to get your license here.

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