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It's the Law

Who May Operate a Vessel


A person under 12 years of age may operate a vessel propelled by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, including a personal watercraft, only if he or she is accompanied on board by a responsible person who is at least 18 years old and experienced in operating the vessel.

A person 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age may operate a vessel propelled by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, including a personal watercraft, only if he or she:

  • Has successfully completed a boater education course approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or…
  • Is accompanied on board by a responsible person who is at least 18 years old and experienced in operating the vessel.

Persons required to have successfully completed a boater education course must carry their boater education certificate on board and make it available upon request by an enforcement officer.

Iowa boater education certificate
Iowa boater education certificate