South Carolina Boating Laws and Regulations

Do you need South Carolina Boating education?

South Carolina

You need education if you are under 16 years old, unaccompanied, and will be operating a boat or PWC of 15 hp or more in South Carolina.

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

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


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

Age and Operator Restrictions

Persons 16 years of age or older may operate any boat or PWC without restrictions.

Persons younger than 16 years of age may operate:

  • A boat or PWC powered by less than 15 hp without restrictions.
  • A boat or PWC powered by 15 hp or more only if:
    • They are accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or…
    • They have passed a boating safety course approved by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

It is unlawful for a person to cause or allow a child over whom they have permanent or temporary responsibility to operate a boat or PWC illegally.


South 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 South 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 South Carolina Boating License.

Even if not required by law to get the South 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 South Carolina an enjoyable pastime! Become an educated, responsible boater by completing the Boat South 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.”)

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

Frequently Asked Questions