Age and Boating Education Requirements
No one under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) in Virginia. Ages 14 and 15 must complete a boating safety education course to operate a PWC.
Beginning in 2009, other operators of PWC and all operators of motorboats with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater must meet a boating safety education requirement according to a phase-in schedule.
- The phase-in schedule for PWC operators is:
- By July 1, 2012, PWC operators of any age
- The phase-in schedule for motorboat operators is:
- By July 1, 2012, powerboat operators 30 years of age or younger
- By July 1, 2013, powerboat operators 40 years of age or younger
- By July 1, 2014, powerboat operators 45 years of age or younger
- By July 1, 2015, powerboat operators 50 years of age or younger
- By July 1, 2016, powerboat operators of any age
An operator can comply with Virginia’s boating safety education requirement by:
- Passing a boating course that is approved by NASBLA and accepted by the VDGIF or…
- Passing an equivalency exam offered by VDGIF or…
- Holding a valid vessel operation license from the United States Coast Guard, a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government, or a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Card or…
- Holding a Virginia temporary operator’s certificate or…
- Providing documentation of serving or qualifying as a surface warfare officer or enlisted surface warfare specialist in the U.S. Navy or…
- Providing documentation of serving or qualifying as an Officer of the Deck Underway, boat coxswain, boat officer, boat operator, watercraft operator, or Marine Deck Officer in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, USCG, or U.S. Merchant Marine.
Operators requiring boater safety education must carry their proof of compliance on board whenever operating a PWC or motorboat.