Iowa’s Boater Safety Education Program

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

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

It’s the Law!

Get Safe. Get Certified.

Who Needs the Card?

Persons at least 12 years old but less than 18 years old may operate a motorboat over ten horsepower or personal watercraft (PWC), only if they complete a boater education course and possess a Boater Education Certificate approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

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

Age Restrictions

The minimum age to take the online boat safety exam is 12 years of age.


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.”)


Iowa 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 details about the boater education law, who is exempt from the education requirement, which courses are approved, the Certification Exam, and the application for the Boater Education Card, visit

Quick Links

Is the Boating Card the same as a Boating License?

The Iowa Boater Education 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 an Iowa Boating License.

Iowa Boater Education Certificate

How do I get my state boating license?

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

Did you lose your card? Replace it here.

Got the Card? Get the Handbook

The Handbook of Iowa Boating Laws and Responsibilities, developed for Iowa Department of Natural Resources and available online only at

For New and Experienced Iowa Boaters

Approved by:

Iowa Department of Natural Resources
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034