North Carolina Boating Laws and Regulations

Do you need North Carolina Boating education?

North Carolina

You need education if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, and will be operating a boat or PWC of 10 hp or more in North Carolina.

There is no minimum age requirement to take this online course.

You do not have to be a resident of North Carolina to take this online course.


Boating education is currently required in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

Age and Operator Restrictions

A person younger than 14 years old may not operate a PWC legally.

A person 14 or 15 years old may operate a PWC only if:

  • He or she is accompanied on board the PWC by a person who is at least 18 years old and who is in compliance with the requirements for operating a vessel or…
  • He or she has on his or her person identification showing proof of age and a boating certification card showing proof of passing a boating safety course approved by NASBLA and accepted by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission or…
  • He or she has on his or her person identification showing proof of age and proof of other boating safety education in compliance with state laws.

Anyone 16 years old or older and born on or after January 1, 1988, may operate a PWC with a motor of 10 hp or greater only if he or she is in compliance with the requirements for operating a vessel.


North Carolina 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.

Is the Boating Card the same as the Boating License?

The North Carolina Boater Education Certificate is proof that you have successfully completed all of the components of an approved Boating safety course and allows you to go boating. Because the Boating education card or certificate does not expire and does not need to be renewed, it is not called the North Carolina Boating License.

Even if not required by law to get the North Carolina boating education card, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

Do your part to make boating in North Carolina an enjoyable pastime! Become an educated, responsible boater by completing the Boat North Carolina course, and practice what you learn.


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.”)

Get Certified Online!

Take this North Carolina–approved course to complete your online boating safety education.

North Carolina Boating safety education card Lifetime Card

unlimited exam attempts

Need help? Here are the answers to the questions North Carolina Boating students most frequently ask.

Frequently Asked Questions