Boating Laws and boating license requirements by state
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Boating Laws & License Requirements by State


Passing a boating safety course will give you a discount on boat insurance and will increase your water safety skills. Boat safety courses are an excellent investment of time and money, regardless of your state's boating law. Each state has unique boating education requirements, and the boating rules, laws and regulations vary from state to state for obtaining a boat license or safety certification. Be sure to review the full legal requirements for your particular state.


Laws By State Alaska Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Rhode Island Pennsylvania
bullet Massachusetts
  Massachusetts Environmental Police
 

Who May Operate a Vessel

Who May Operate a Motorboat: The restrictions below apply to boats propelled by any type of motor, whether or not the motor is the principal source of propulsion.

  • Persons under 12 years of age may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters only if accompanied on board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older.
  • Persons 12 through 15 years of age may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters only if they:
    • Have passed an approved boating education course or …
    • Are accompanied on board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older.
  • Persons 16 years of age or older may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters without age restrictions.

Who May Operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC):

  • Persons under 16 years of age may not operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters under any circumstances.
  • Persons 16 or 17 years of age may operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters only if they have passed a state-approved boating education course.
  • Persons 18 years of age or older may operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters without age restrictions.
  • It is illegal to lease or rent a personal watercraft to any person under 16 years of age. It is illegal to lease or rent a PWC to any person 16 or 17 years of age who does not have in his or her possession the required Boating Safety Certificate.

A person must be at least 12 years of age to be issued a Boating Safety Certificate. Students must be at least 12 years of age to enroll in the state’s boating safety course.

Persons required to have passed a state-approved boating education course must have the Boating Safety Certificate on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel is operated.

  View the official Massachusetts boating state web site here.

States with mandatory boating law require safety certification for some or all boaters. Only one state (Alabama) requires an actual boat license. However, many prospective students are not aware of state legal terminology, and search for information about a boat license or licence, or a captain or captains license. This page is an excellent resource for boating law for all fifty states.