Illinois Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

Persons age 10-11 may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 hp only if they are under the direct on‐board supervision of a person over 18 who has an Illinois Boating Safety Certificate.

Persons age 12-17 may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 hp only if they have an Illinois Boating Safety Certificate or are under the direct on‐board supervision of a person over 18 who has an Illinois Boating Safety Certificate.

Supervising persons born on or after January 1, 1998, must have a valid Illinois Boating Safety Certificate.

Enforcement

Illinois 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.”)

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

Frequently Asked Questions