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Kentucky Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

A person must be 12 years or older to operate a motorboat (including PWC) 10 hp or over on Kentucky public waters.

Operators 12 to 17 years of age may legally operate a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft) only if they:

  • Have passed an approved boating safety course and carry on board their boater education certificate or…
  • Are accompanied on board by a person 18 years old or older or by a person who possesses a boater education card.


Kentucky 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.”)

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Take this Kentucky–approved online boating course to complete your boaters safety education. is a delegated provider for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

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