How to Get a Boating License in the US?

Last Updated on March 9, 2021

In the US, over the recent years, the rules for getting your boating license have changed. Even for recreational purposes, commandeering your own vessel requires you to have a government certified permit.

This was easier to obtain before; however, now it requires you to go through the course and sit for a practical exam.

Nevertheless, you need not worry. That’s because, in this post, we are going to tell you exactly how you can obtain a boating license in the USA.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

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When Should You Get Your Boating License?

You can get one right now; the basic requirements for every state are more or less the same. Anyone above the age of 12 is eligible to sit for the exam in most states. Firstly, if a person is under the age of 18, the law requires them to have a proper permit.

Time To Get Boat License

Secondly, driving any motorized water vessel also requires you to have a license. However, small boats (e.g., canoes and rowing boats) that aren’t motorized don’t fall under the same category.

On-Line Classes and In-Person Classes

This procedure of obtaining a boat license differentiates from state to state. A few states require you to simply go through a set of online courses before appearing for the final practical exam.

However, in this case, choosing your course according to your state is highly advised.

Online courses will give you a good amount of ideas on boat safety and precautions theoretically. Not to mention, some courses will also teach you more in-depth about maps and geo-locations. If you know how to use that information properly, then it can be a fantastic skill for both boating and other outdoor activities.

On the other hand, in-person classes, however, are usually very common before boating exams. It requires you to learn how to maneuver practically and know the difference between vessels.

Safety and hazard precautions are also taught more in-depth, making sure you know how to handle a catastrophic situation like stormy weather accordingly.

How to Get Your Own Boating License?

Here’s the step-by-step guide that you can follow to get a boating license for you.

Step 1: Select Your Course

Most states require you to do in-person classes. However, they also have online materials and sources for you to practice on as well. Choose the course that you need; this will require you to pay a fee. The average fee for online courses is around $30.

Step 2: Begin Your Preparation

If you are doing in-person classes, your teacher will be providing you with most of the study materials; as well as teaching you about boating safety procedures.

You will be learning most practices, which require you to have a guide for getting a good idea and overview of bad weather as well as boat terms and analogies.

Step 3: Begin Practicing

In most cases when you are studying online, you will not have a good amount of practical experience. On the other hand, however, you will have a good idea of theoretical knowledge.

How to Get Your Own Boating License

Practicing sample questions are a must and are usually available online. The site ‘boater exam’ has a mock question sample for you to solve and assess yourself. Before taking the exam, take the time to evaluate yourself thoroughly.

Step 4: Take the Test

If you have prepared yourself accordingly, this should be a breeze. Passing the exam shows that you are capable of handling a vessel. In some cases, however, they require you to pay the fees after the course.

So, usually, you will be paying right before you get your license delivered to you. Be very keen when taking the exam, and study well beforehand.



Crazy how easy the procedure is, right? Don’t worry about the exam, take a load off your chest, and relax. Study hard, concentrate, and you should be able to pass with flying colors. Just be very vigilant when you’re out on the water practicing and remember the thing you learned during the course.

And if you have any further queries regarding the process, don’t hesitate to contact us. Well, then sailor with all that being said, good luck and happy sailing!

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