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Washington’s Boater Safety Education Program

Boating safety education has proven to be successful in reducing boating accidents, injuries, and conflicts among boaters, shoreline property owners, and others interested in enjoying Washington’s waterways. When the state legislature passed a law in 2005 that requires boat operators to take boater safety education, Washington joined 36 other states that also have an education requirement for boat operators.

Washington’s boater education law requires the operators of motorboats powered by 15 horsepower or more to carry a Washington Boater Education Card (unless exempt). All boat operators 12 years of age or older and born on or after January 1, 1955, must have a Boater Education Card. To review the Boater Education Card exemptions,visit the State Parks website at

To get a Boater Education Card, boat operators 12 years of age or older must take a commission-approved boating safety education course and pass the course exam. After passing the exam, the operator must apply for a Boater Education Card and carry the card on board to operate a boat legally. Persons under 12 years of age may not legally operate a motorboat powered by 15 horsepower or more.

  • The card is issued by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for $10.00.
  • The card show that the boat operator knows the basics of safe boating and how to share the waters safely.
  • Unlike a driver’s license which must be renewed, a Boater Education Card never expires.

For additional information about obtaining a Boater Education Card or other details on the Mandatory Boater Safety Education Program, visit the State Parks website at or call 360-902-8555.

By taking a boating safety course and applying the lessons you learn, you help to ensure that our waterways are the safest they can be. In addition, completing a course may reduce your boat insurance by 10% to 15%. Be sure to ask your insurance agent.

The Washington Boater Education Card is good for life and does not require the boater to attend refresher courses. Boaters are encouraged to take advantage of the easy access to updates on boating laws and boater safety information by using the State Parks website