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Colorado Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

To operate a vessel on Colorado’s public waters, a person:

  • Under 14 years of age may not operate any motorboat or personal watercraft on Colorado’s public waters.
  • 14 or 15 years of age may operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on Colorado’s public waters only if he or she has passed an approved boating safety course and has a Boating Safety Certificate issued by the boating safety course provider.

A person 16 years of age or older may operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on Colorado’s public waters.

Boater Education Exams

With regard to boat safety education courses, a person:

  • Must be 14 years of age to take a proctored exam in a classroom setting and get the state-issued Boating Safety Certificate.
  • Must be 16 years of age to take the online boat safety exam and get a boater education card.


Colorado 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 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.”)

Get Certified Online!

Take this Colorado–approved online boating course to complete your boaters safety education. is a delegated provider for the Colorado State Parks.

Colorado Boating safety education card Lifetime Card Get Certified

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