It's the Law

Who May Operate/Age Restrictions


It is illegal for a parent or guardian to allow a child to operate a vessel in violation of the requirements below.

Motorboats (Other Than a Personal Watercraft)

A person under the age of 10 may not operate a motorboat.

A person 10 or 11 years old may operate a motorboat only if accompanied by a parent, a guardian, or a person at least 18 years old who is designated by the parent or guardian.

A person 12–15 years old may operate a motorboat only if:

  • He or she is accompanied by a parent, a guardian, or a person at least 18 years old who is designated by the parent or guardian or…
  • He or she has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin DNR.

A person at least 16 years old may operate a motorboat only if he or she has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin DNR. A person born before January 1, 1989, is exempt from the safety course requirement.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

A person under the age of 12 may not operate a PWC.

A person 12–15 years old may operate a PWC only if he or she has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin DNR. (Parental supervision is not a substitute for a boating safety course certificate as with other motorboats.)

A person at least 16 years old may operate a PWC only if he or she has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin DNR. A person born before January 1, 1989, is exempt from the safety course requirement.

A person under the age of 16 may not rent or lease a PWC.