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Massachusetts Boating Laws and Regulations

Massachusetts law requires the following for motorboat operators:

  • A person under 12 years of age may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters only if accompanied on board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older.
  • A person 12 through 15 years of age may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters only if he or she:
    • Has passed a state-approved boating education course or…
    • Is accompanied on board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older.
  • A person 16 years of age or older may operate a motorboat on Massachusetts waters without age restrictions.

Massachusetts law requires the following for PWC operators:

  • A person under 16 years of age may not operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters under any circumstances.
  • A person 16 or 17 years of age may operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters only if he or she has passed a state-approved boating education course.
  • A person 18 years of age or older may operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters without age restrictions.
  • It is illegal to lease or rent a PWC to any person under 16 years of age. It is illegal to lease or rent a PWC to any person 16 or 17 years of age who does not have in his or her possession the required Boating Safety Certificate.

Enforcement

Massachusetts 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.”)