Table of Contents

Operator Age and Boater Education Card Requirements

Age Requirements and Restrictions

Operators must obey laws that require boater education and regulate a vessel's registration and operation.

Washington's boater education law took effect in 2008.

Persons under 12 years of age may not operate a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more.

Persons 12 years of age or older may operate a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more if they have a Boater Education Card (see below).

Persons 14 years of age or older may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) if they have a Boater Education Card (see below).

It is illegal to lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft to anyone under 16 years of age.

When do I need my card?

Boater Education Card Requirements

Washington's boater education law is being phased in by operator age over several years as shown on the phase-in schedule. In 2012, all persons who are 12 to 40 years of age must have a Boater Education Card to operate a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more. In 2013, all persons who are 12 to 50 years of age will be required to have a Boater Education Card.

Boat Ed Card

Persons who are required to have a Boater Education Card must follow these steps to obtain a card.

  1. Take a boating safety course approved by the State Parks and Recreation Commission. You may take a classroom, online, or home-study course.
  2. Pass the course exam.
  3. Apply for a Boater Education Card. The fee is $10.00.

Equivalency Exam

An equivalency exam is available for experienced boaters who have a good working knowledge of the U.S. Coast Guard's navigation rules and Washington's laws and regulations for recreational boats. Boaters who pass the equivalency exam may apply for a Boater Education Card and pay the $10.00 fee.

Must 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. A good place to keep the card is in a waterproof storage compartment or a waterproof bag that is secured safely in the vessel.

No Expiration

Unlike a driver's license which must be renewed, a Boater Education Card never expires.

Lost Card

If you lose or damage your card, a replacement card is available for $5.00.

Additional Info

For details about the boater education law, who is exempt from the education requirement, which courses are approved, the equivalency exam, and the application for the Boater Education Card, visit www.parks.wa.gov/boating/boatered/.

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