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FAQ - Boating License California

Do I need a license to operate a power boat in California?

Depending on your age, you need a California Boater Card to operate a power boat in California.

The mandatory boating safety education law went into effect on January 1, 2018 and the Boater Card requirement is being phased in by age. By 2025 all operators of motorized vessels will need a California Boater Card.

  • 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. 

Is a California Boater Card and a Boating License the same thing?

The California Boater Card is often called a “boating license” and is mandatory for operators of any motorized vessels (depending on operator’s age). It proves you have successfully completed an approved boating safety course and are allowed to go boating. The Boater Card does not expire and does not need to be renewed, as such it is not a “license”.

Do I need a license to buy a boat?

No, but you will need a California Boater Card if you want to operate a motorized vessel on California waterways.

Is there a jet ski license?

The California Boater Card is mandatory for operators of all motorized vessels, including jet skis. You do not need an additional license to operate a jet ski.

Is there a California sailboat license?

If the sailboat has a motor, you will need a California Boater Card.

Where can I get a license for a boat?

To get a California Boater Card you need to complete an approved online education course and pass a test – for example at aceboater.com. The Division of Boating and Waterways will then send you your card. 

What does it take to get a boating license?

To get a California Boater Card you need to complete an approved online education course and pass a test – for example at aceboater.com.

When am I required to buy a boating license for California?

The requirement to carry a California Boating Card came in on January 1, 2018 for people under the age of 21.

Do I need to take a test to operate a boat in California?

To operate a motorized boat in California you need to complete an approved online boating safety course – such as aceboater.com – and pass a test. You will then receive a California Boater Card that allows you to go boating.

 

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