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go boating!

The easiest and most comprehensive way to ace your California boating safety course.

Commonly known as the

California Boating License

  • Study at your own pace.
  • Pay only when you pass.
  • Unlimited retries.
  • Certified for life.
  • $ 24.95

California Boater Card requirements

California boating license - Boater Card

To operate a motorboat in California, you will need to pass an approved boating safety course and carry a California Boater Card (valid for life). The Card will be phased in over 8 years, depending on your age:

  • January 1, 2018: Anyone 20 years old or younger must have a Card.
  • January 1, 2019: 25 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2020: 35 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2021: 40 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2022: 45 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2023: 50 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2024: 60 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2025 All persons regardless of age.

Your California Boater Card will be accepted in all states that require NASBLA-approved certification.

California Online Boating Safety Course 3 easy steps

Étape 1 - Étudiez à votre rythme

Study at your own pace

  • Pay only when you pass.
  • Complete and easy-to-read study guide.
  • Only $ 24.95 (online course, final test and online certificate included).

Étape 2 - Faites l'examen en ligne

Take the final test online

  • The boating exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions.
  • Open-book final test.
  • Free exam retries - risk free!

Imprimez votre carte

Print your Aceboater temporary card

  • Print your certificate and start boating now!
  • Your certificate is good for life.
  • Request your California Boater Card.

Reviews Official boating safety course

Rated 4.7/5 based on 2449 customers reviews
1 days ago
Great experience. Went to final confident and ready. Only a few curves on the test, but overall...
2 days ago
Great course.
2 days ago
thank you, it was very helpful and provided me with things i need to know about boating
2 days ago
It was fine. Slightly annoying to wait for the counter as I read pretty fast.
2 days ago
it was great
3 days ago
Great
3 days ago
I hope everyone signs up like their supposed to. Lots of luck with that!
3 days ago
awsome site
3 days ago
clear and concise
3 days ago
Excellent!!! Very good course that was well thought out with great illustrations.
3 days ago
This is a MUST needed course for All planning to operate a vessel. Extremely informative, and I...
4 days ago
This is a very good and informative course.
5 days ago
Very cool
7 days ago
took awhile but once i buckled down and took it seriously some good information here
8 days ago
Wasn't that easy but well worth while. I don't our recommend this course to any one who is...
8 days ago
all good
Shopper Award

California boating practice test

Testez vos connaissances

Put your Knowledge to the test!

Available on : Accessible sur PC, tablettes et portables

Cours en ligne disponible en tout temps 24 heures sur 24

Online course available 24/7.

Support en ligne par téléphone courriel et clavardage

Online support by phone, email or chat.

California Boating Safety Course Discounts

Take advantage of our group discounts for family and friends. Register together and get a discount of up to 30% for the online boating course!

10% discount for 2 people

20% discount for 3 people

30% discount for 4 people

FAQ - California Boater Card 

What is a California Boater Card?

The California Boater Card is proof that the holder has successfully taken and passed a NASBLA/state-approved boater safety exam. From January 1, 2018, people wishing to operate a motorized vessel on state waters will need to carry the California Boat Card. The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) issues the card.

Do I need a boating license in California?

Although the California Boater Card is often called a “boating license”, there are currently no boating license requirements for the State of California. However, the California Boater Card will be mandatory for boating from January 1, 2018. Unlike a license, the Boater Card does not expire and does not need to be renewed.

Is this course approved for court-ordered boating safety education?

Yes, the course is approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) under the California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 668.3.

What are the age restrictions to operate a motor boat in California?

A person under the age of 16 may not operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower unless the boat is a sailboat and does not exceed 30 feet in length - OR - the boat is a dinghy and is operated between a moored boat and shore, or to go between two moored boats. The law does allow anyone aged 12-15 to operate motorboats of more than 15 horsepower, or sailboats over 30 feet, if they supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age.

PWC Operation: A person under the age of 16 may not operate a personal watercraft (PWC) of more than 15 horsepower unless that person is between the ages of 12 and 15, and is directly supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age. Anyone who allows an unsupervised person under the age of 16 to operate is guilty of an offense.

When will boater be required to have a Boater Card?

The new requirement will begin on Jan. 1, 2018 do not include a license. The new requirement is for anyone aged 20 years and younger wishing to operate a motorized vessel on state waterways.

Each year from January 2018 a new age group will be added to those who are required to possess a valid card. From 2025, everyone operating a motorized vessel on California waters will be required to carry the card. Once issued, the card is valid for life.

The California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b) contains the following phase-in schedule based on operator age:

  • January 1, 2018: persons 20 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2019: persons 25 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2020: persons 35 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2021: persons 40 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2022: persons 45 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2023: persons 50 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2024: persons 60 years old or younger.
  • January 1, 2025 All persons regardless of age.

Who will be exempt from holding a boater card in California?

  • A person operating a rental vessel.
  • A person operating a vessel while under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of a California Boater Card.
  • A person who is a resident of a state other than California who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for less than 60 days and meets the boating requirements, if any, of his/her state.
  • A person who is a resident of a country other than the United States who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for less than 90 days and meets the boating requirements, if any, of his/her country.
  • A person operating a vessel in an organized regatta or vessel race, or water ski race.
  • A person who is in possession of a current commercial fishing license.
  • A person who is in possession of a valid marine operator license, for the waters upon which the licensee is operating, issued by the US Coast Guard, or who is in possession of a valid certificate issued pursuant to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.
  • A person who has successfully completed a boating course approved by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Do I need a California Boater Card if I'm only operating a jet ski/PWC?

Yes, the California Boater Card will be required for everyone wishing to operate a motorized vessel, including jet skis and PWC, on California waters (except those listed in the exemptions).

Is it the California Boater Card the same as a boating license?

The California Boater Card is often called a “boating license”. There are currently no boating license requirements for the State of California, however, the California Boater Card will be mandatory for boating from January 1, 2018. Unlike a license, the Boater Card does not expire and does not need to be renewed.

Am I pre-qualified for a Boater Card if I have already taken a boater education course or will take one before 2018?

DBW has determined that it will accept proof of passing a National Association of State Boating Law Administration (NASBLA) and California Division of Boating and Waterways-approved boater education course taken between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017. Anyone who has passed an approved examination during this timeframe will have 1 year from the effective January 1, 2018 implementation date to apply for their California Boater Card to receive the “grandfathering” exemption regardless of their age. Older courses may not include recent state or national changes to navigation law.

Do I need a driver's license to operate a motorized boat in California?

No. You are currently encouraged to obtain a Boater Safety Education Card and from 2018 you will need a California Boater Card.

What safety equipment do I need to carry with me in California?

You must carry life jackets/PFDs and a sound signalling device on all vessels. Depending on the type and length of the vessel and where and when you are boating you may need other equipment, including visual distress signals, navigation lights, a fire extinguisher etc. See the Equipment page for the full list of requirements.

What are the benefits of taking a boating safety course in California?

Not only is mandatory education the law, the California Boater Card Program promotes boating safety on our waterways. U. S. Coast Guard accident data show that states with some form of boating safety education have fewer accidents and fatalities than states without any boater education requirements. In 2015, 724 Californian recreational vessels were involved in reported accidents and 49 boaters died. More than 232 boaters were injured needing treatment beyond first aid. Only one of the boat operators involved in fatal accidents had taken an approved boating safety course. Increased numbers of boaters taking approved safety courses will benefit all recreational boaters in California.

How much time will it take to complete an approved boating safety course including the exam?

You must spend a minimum of three (3) hours studying the boating safety course, but you can take more time if you wish. You will then have as long as you need to complete the final exam.

Will my California Boater Card be valid in other states?

Yes! All states with NASBLA-approved boater education requirements will accept the California Boater Card.

Do I need to wear a life jacket when I'm operating a motorboat?

Normally you do not need to wear a life jacket in a motorboat but you must make sure there is one US Coast Guard-approved life jacket readily available per person on board. Inflatable life jackets must be worn to count towards this required. If you are operating a personal watercraft you must wear a lifejacket.

Why should I choose ACEBOATER.com?

Because:

  • We have hundreds of illustrations that will help you to better understand the content.
  • Our online course is available 24/7.
  • You can access our online support by phone, email or chat.
  • We offer multi-platform training.
  • Our policy has always been, "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back"!

California State Parks Boating and Waterways

United States Coast Guard

NASBLA - National Association of State Boating Law Administrator

The easiest way to ace your California online Boating Safety Course!

Satisfacetion guaranteed or money back