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Boating License Age

Learn about the legal boating age and boater education requirements for your state. Be a safe and responsible boater.

While the term "boat license age" is often used to describe the age at which you can legally operate a boat, it's important to remember that each state has unique laws regarding boater education requirements and boat operator ages. Learn about the legal boating age and boater education requirements for your state. Be a safe and responsible boater.

Boating Age Requirements by State

Are you wondering at what age can you get your boat license? The answer to the question about boating age just depends on where you live and operate your boat. In addition, there may be state-specific laws or rules that pertain to the size of the boat and the manner in which the boat is powered. Some states may not require you to have a boating license, but is require to complete a boating safety course. Please check the state boating regulations where you are planning to go boating.

Since every state has different boating laws that apply to boat operator age and vessel safety education, make sure you know the minimum age requirements for operating a boat in your specific state. Even if your state doesn't require you to take a boating safety course or get a boating license, it is your responsibility to learn how to boat in a safe and responsible manner.

Alabama

The operator must be at least 12 years old*.

Alaska

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Arizona

No one under the age of 12 years may operate a motorized vessel unless is an emergency*.

Arkansas

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

California

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Colorado

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

Connecticut

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Delaware

The operator must be at least 14 years old*.

DC

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Florida

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

Georgia

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Hawaii

The operator should be at least 15 years old*.

Idaho

Certain counties have age restrictions for minimum operator age. Please check with the counties and cities in which you plan to boat.

Illinois

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Indiana

The operator should be at least 15 years old*.

Iowa

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Kansas

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Kentucky

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Indiana

The operator should be at least 15 years old*.

Iowa

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Kansas

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Kentucky

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Louisiana

The operator should be at least 10 years old*.

Maine

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Maryland

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Massachusetts

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Michigan

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Minnesota

The operator must be at least 12 years old*.

Mississippi

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Missouri

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Montana

The operator should be at least 13 years old*.

Nebraska

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

Nevada

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

New Hampshire

The operator should be at least 15 years old*.

New Jersey

The operator should be at least 13 years old*.

New Mexico

The operator should be at least 13 years old*.

New York

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

North Carolina

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

North Dakota

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Ohio

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Oklahoma

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Oregon

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Pennsylvania

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Rhode Island

All those born on or after January 1, 1986, are required to pass an approved boater education course

South Carolina

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

South Dakota

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

Tennessee

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Texas

The operator should be at least 13 years old*.

Utah

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Vermont

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Virginia

The operator should be at least 14 years old*.

Washington

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

West Virginia

The operator should be at least 12 years old*.

Wisconsin

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

Wyoming

The operator should be at least 16 years old*.

*Check state boating regulations for more info.

You may notice that there are states, such as California, which require all boat owners to take a recreational boating safety course. In other words, if you live in California and own a boat, you have to pass a boating safety test to earn your California boating license or California Boater Card in order to operate a motorized vessel. The boat license age is

Regardless of your age or amount of boating experience, boater education is always recommended to refresh your skills and prevent accidents on the water. Trained boaters know safe boat operating procedures, navigation, communication, and emergency protocol.

Boating Safety Card Versus Charter Boating License

Be aware that a recreational boating safety certificate or boating safety card is not the same as a charter boat license. Your boating safety certification or boaters safety card is proof that you have passed a state-approved recreational boating safety course. A charter boat license (also referred to as a captain's license) is an additional requirement for those who plan on taking paying passengers aboard, or those who wish to professionally pursue a career as a boater.

Just think, you could start out as a recreational boater with your boater safety card, and then decide that you want to get your professional charter boat license someday.