Alabama Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

If you are under 12 years of age: You may not obtain your Alabama boater safety certification, and you may not operate a vessel under any circumstances.

If you are 12 or 13 years of age: You may obtain your Alabama boater safety certification. After obtaining the certification, you may operate a vessel legally only if supervised on board by a person who:

  • Is at least 21 years of age and…
  • Carries a valid proof of his or her Alabama boater safety certification and…
  • Is in position to take immediate physical control of the vessel.

If you are 14 years of age or older: After obtaining Alabama boater safety certification, you may operate a vessel without supervision legally on Alabama waters for up to 45 days per calendar year.

Exemptions

The certification is not required for operators who:

  • Have a valid U.S. Coast Guard Motorboat Operator’s License or…
  • Submit a valid certificate of successful completion of an ALEA Marine Police Division–approved safe boating course, or a course offered by U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or…
  • Were 40 years old or older as of April 28, 1994.

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

Enforcement

Alabama 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.

Reciprocity

For visiting boaters, 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.”)

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Take this Alabama–approved course to complete your online boating safety education.

Alabama Boating safety education card Lifetime Card

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Need help? Here are the answers to the questions Alabama Boating students most frequently ask.

Frequently Asked Questions