North Carolina Boating Laws and Regulations

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.

Enforcement

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.

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.”)

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Frequently Asked Questions