Michigan’s Boater Safety Education Program

Michigan joins more than 40 states with educational requirements for operating a boat or PWC on state waters.

By completing and passing this Michigan–approved online boating license course, you will have satisfied the educational requirement for Michigan.

It’s the Law!

Get Safe. Get Certified.

Who Needs the Card?

Michigan law places certain restrictions on boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators. These restrictions vary depending on the operator's age, the type of vessel being operated, and the horsepower of that vessel.

Even if not required by law to get the Michigan boating license, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

Do your part to make boating in Michigan a safe, enjoyable pastime! Become an educated, responsible boater by completing the Boat Michigan course and practice what you learn.

Age Restrictions

Persons less than 12 years of age:

  • May operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower (hp) legally without restrictions.
  • May operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 hp but no more than 35 hp legally only if they:
    • Have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat and …
    • Are directly supervised on board by a person at least 16 years of age.
  • May not operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 35 hp legally under any conditions.

Those born on or after July 1, 1996, may operate a boat legally only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat.

Those born before July 1, 1996, may operate a boat legally without restrictions.

Personal Watercraft

Those less than 14 years of age may not legally operate a PWC.

Those 14 and 15 years of age may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate and …

  • He or she is accompanied on board by his or her parent or legal guardian or by a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian or …
  • He or she is operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from his or her parent or legal guardian or from a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian.

Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31,1978, may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.

Those born on or before December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.

Reciprocity

All states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)

Enforcement

Michigan law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry the Card Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

Penalty Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.

For More Information

For details about the boater education law, who is exempt from the education requirement, which courses are approved, the Online Course Exam, and the application for the Boater Education Card, visit http://www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Quick Links

Is the Boating Card the same as a Boating License?

The Michigan Boating Safety Certificate is proof that you have successfully completed an approved boating safety course. Since the boater education card does not expire and does not need to be renewed, it is not called a Michigan Boating License.

Michigan Boating Safety Certificate

How do I get my state boating license?

You may have heard that you need the Michigan Boat License to operate your boat, but what you really need is the Michigan Boating Safety Certificate. You can get the Michigan Boating Safety Certificate by taking this Boat License Safety course at boat-ed.com. Find out if you need the card.

Did you lose your card? Replace it here.

Got the Card? Get the Handbook

The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities, developed for Michigan Department of Natural Resources and available online only at boat-ed.com

For New and Experienced Michigan Boaters

Approved by:

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909
517-284-6055
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr