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How to Get a Boating License

How to Get a Boating License
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Whether your state officially requires it or not, earning a boating license is an excellent way to learn and ensure you are following all state boating laws. This helps protect you, your family, and other boaters sharing the public waterways. The best way to make sure you’re boating responsibly is to take a state-approved boating license course and exam.

Why Get a Boating License?

The biggest benefit to be gained from taking a boating license exam is the opportunity to learn boating basics and how to safely operate a boat. This knowledge is something that any responsible boat owner should have.

In addition to becoming a more responsible boater and a better steward of the waterways, there are some additional benefits as well, including:

  • Insurance discounts from certain boat insurance companies
  • Increase confidence on the water

As a boater, it’s your responsibility to know the rules of the water to protect yourself as well as other boaters. The more you know about safe boating, the more you can enjoy your time on the water.

Boating License vs. Boat Registration

A boating license is granted to boaters who pass a state-approved exam and adequately demonstrate their proficiency in boating basics like safety, navigation, marker buoys, and more. This license can be thought of similar to a driver’s license.

Alternatively, your boat’s registration can be compared to a car’s license plate. It’s a legal requirement proving that your boat is properly registered with the state and providing a unique identifier for your vessel.

5 Steps to Get Your Boating License

Each state may have different requirements on the required age to receive a boating license, but that information will be readily available from your local authority. When you’re ready to get your boating license, here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Understand your state’s requirements for licensing and terminology (for example, some states might refer to a boating license as a boater safety education certificate)
  2. Select a boater safety course
  3. Review materials provided by your course and commit the information to memory
  4. Take a state-approved boating safety exam
  5. Keep in mind that boating license requirements may differ from state to state and be ready to earn a new license if you move to a new state

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