Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

It's the Law

Who May Operate a Motorboat or PWC


All persons must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft (PWC) legally unless under the direct, on-board supervision of a parent, guardian, or other person 16 years of age or older.

  • No person may knowingly permit a child under the minimum age to operate a motorboat or PWC unattended.
  • Parents and guardians are legally responsible for the underage operator and their actions.

Boater Education Law

All persons born after January 1, 1984, who operate any vessel on the lakes of the State of Missouri must have on board:

  • A boating safety identification card issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) and a photo I.D. or…
  • A Missouri driver’s license, or a non-driver’s license with a boating safety endorsement.

The boating safety card is obtained by successfully completing a boating safety course approved by the MSHP.

  • Missouri residents must have and present to a licensing office a boating safety identification card when adding the boating endorsement to the driver’s license or non-driver’s license.
  • The boating safety identification card requirement also applies to non-residents.

Persons who possess a USCG or Power Squadron boating course certificate may apply for a certificate issued by the Highway Patrol.