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It's the Law

Who May Operate a Vessel


Who May Operate a Motorboat: The restrictions below apply to boats propelled by any type of motor, whether or not the motor is the principal source of propulsion.

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

Who May Operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC):

  • Persons under 16 years of age may not operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters under any circumstances.
  • Persons 16 or 17 years of age may operate a PWC on Massachusetts waters only if they have passed a state-approved boating education course.
  • Persons 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.
Massachusetts Boating Safety Card

A person must be at least 12 years of age to be issued a Boating Safety Certificate. Students must be at least 12 years of age to enroll in the state’s boating safety course.

Persons required to have passed a state-approved boating education course must have the Boating Safety Certificate on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel is operated.