How to Get Your Boating License or Boater Education Card

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 26, 2015

Maybe you're a new boater and nautical phrases like "red light returning" have you feeling clueless.

Maybe you're a new boater and nautical phrases like "red light returning" have you feeling clueless. Or, maybe you've been boating for years, but want to be sure your knowledge is up to date. In either case, it's a good idea to take a boater education course so that you can learn more about boat safety and get your boating license or boater education card.

You might be wondering what the difference is between a boating license, or boater education card, and your boat registration. Well, in simple terms, your boat registration helps to identify your boat and verifies that you have the legal right to operate the boat on state waterways. While a boating license or boater education card, on the other hand, is required in many states and serves as proof that you have successfully completed a state-approved boating safety course.

When you sign up to take a boating safety class you are on your way to learning the boating rules of the road while becoming more educated about water safety, boating skills and required emergency equipment.

Being a safer, more responsible boater should be reason enough to get your boating license or boater education card. However, there can be other benefits, such as discounts on your recreational boat insurance (check with your insurance carrier for more information).


Here are two convenient ways you can sign up for a boating education course today and work on earning your boater education card:

  1. Take a boating safety course through one of the following national organizations: U.S. Power Squadron, American Boat Operators Course,, BoatSafe, BoatUS Foundation,

  2. Sign up for a local boating safety course in your area. You can find boating safety classes near you by visiting the "Boating Education and Safety Courses" section in our "Boating Basics" section at

If you know someone who is thinking of buying a boat or someone who already has a boat and could benefit from a boating safety course, be sure to share the link to this post and encourage them to sign up for a class. Safe boating is the responsibility of everyone who uses our state waterways.

Photo credits: The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel/George Kamper Photography, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.