New Boating LAW

Boating Education

New York State requires certain boat operators to have a boating safety certificate. New York and most other states do not require a “license” to operate your personal recreational boat.

New York State Boating Safety Certificate

There are licenses for operating a boat on a professional level such at sightseeing or charter fishing or even commercial work boats such as tug and ferries. If you need information on this type of license check out our page Public Vessels

New York State provides boating safety certificates to those people who successfully complete a New York State Safe Boating Classroom Course. New York State also recognizes the safety certificates issued by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the US Power Squadron and the US Powerboating. Boating Safety Certificates from several online course providers are approved for New York State residents

Who needs a boating safety certificate?


Under a new law, known as Brianna’s Law, all motor boat operators:

  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2020.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2022.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2023.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2024.
  • All motor boat operators regardless of age will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2025.

If you were born on or after:You will need a boating safety certificate when operating a motorized vessel in:January 1, 19932020January 1, 19882022January 1, 19832023January 1, 19782024All operators of motorized vessels, regardless of age, will need a boating safety certificate by January 1, 2025

Personal Watercraft

Anyone operating a Personal Watercraft (JetSki™, Wave Runner™, etc.) must have a boating safety certificate, and be at least 14 years of age or older.

Boating Safety certificates issued in other states

If you are a New York resident, you will need to have a NYS boating safety certificate; if you are from out-of-state, New York recognizes the boating safety certificate issued by your home state.

Renting a boat

Persons may rent and operate a motor boat from a livery without first obtaining a boating safety certificate.

Operators of sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, rowboats, canoes and any other watercraft without a motor are not required to have a boating safety certificate to be on the water. However, it is always a good idea to take a boating course. You can find an on-the-water paddling course in many areas of the state or you may want to begin with one of these online programs:

  • The FREE Paddle Sports Safety Course
  • American Canoe Association Paddlesports Safety Course Online

Take a Boating Safety Class

Choose the method that best fits your schedule, style and needs. Both options are approved by the New York State Office of Parks and result in certificates that never expire. Please note that some courses charge a fee.In-Classroom Instruction

New York State Parks’ Bureau of Marine Services has over 55 years of experience teaching New Yorkers to operate their boats safely. In the last 15 years, through State Parks network of certified instructors, we have taught more than 300,000 people.

The in-classroom course option is designed as a comprehensive study of boating safety to teach the fundamentals of safe boating operation. The course requires a structured classroom setting and has been approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

  • Courses are available throughout the state. The course listing is updated daily.
  • Find a safe boating course near you.
  • Registration for a course is completed by calling the contact number provided. Course providers are responsible for any fees they may charge.
  • Fees paid to the instructor do not cover the cost of your permanent certificate issued by NYS Parks.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information on classroom coursesClassroom Providers

Online Class Instruction

Beginning in 2015, the Boating Safety Certificate course requirements can be completed with one of the online courses listed below.

  • Courses are available at your convenience; just click one of the links below to begin your online learning experience. Course providers are responsible for any fees they may charge.
  • Learning is completed online, successful completion of unit exams is required in order to advance through the course and ultimately undertake a comprehensive final exam.
  • Fees paid to the online provider cover the cost of your permanent certificate issued by the provider.
  • BOATERexam
  • Boat-ED
  • Boat U.S.
  • America’s Boating Club (formerly known as US Power Squadron) Spanish online course available
  • BoatSmart
  • iLearnToBoat
    • iLearnToBoat is an online course in which users learn safe boating methods and procedures through an interactive story.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information about online boating education courses

New York State Adventure License

New York State DMV Photo Issued Document
Leaving New York State Parks

If you have a lifetime recreation certificate or sporting license, your New York State Driver License can now become an all-purpose boating, fishing, hunting and parks ID card.

Anyone successfully completing the New York Safe Boating Course or approved online boating safety course may opt to have their driver’s license, non-driver ID, or learner’s permit indicate completion of the course. A small anchor icon will be placed on your DMV document, attesting that you have earned a New York State boating safety certificate.

The advantage to this program is that you will no longer need to carry your boating safety certificate with you when boating, provided you have your DMV credential with you. DMV will maintain a record of your having completed the boating safety course, and automatically place the icon on your license each time it is renewed.

There are several ways to apply for this program

  • If you are planning on taking a classroom course, your instructor has proper paper work for you.
  • If you have taken the classroom course in the past and have received your permanent card you can go to the NYS Parks Adventure License page.
    • For payment through check or money order, please use the following form
  • If you have taken an online class you must log back into their website and click on the link they provide for the Adventure License.
  • If you have a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron or US Powerboating Boating Safety Certificate, you must bring your original certificate directly to any DMV office.
  • If you have taken the classroom course in the past you can bring your NYS Boating Safety Certificate to your local DMV office.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information before you call DMV.

Instructors for New York Safe Boating Course

How to become an Instructor for the New York Safe Boating Course

New instructors are needed to teach the New York Safe Boating course to youths and adults. New York State Parks provides textbooks, lesson plans and a power point presentation at no cost to all instructors.

To begin the certification process, complete the New York Safe Boating Instructor Application (pdf). For more information call (518) 474-0445.

Suffolk County Residents

In 2014, legislation signed by the Governor supersedes all local laws or ordinances with respect to motorboat education requirements. Any local boater education requirement adopted by a locality prior to the effective date of this law is no longer enforceable.OverviewBoating EducationNavigation LawSafe Operation

2018 New York Safe Boating

2019 Boaters Guide

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