Who needs a North Dakota Boater Education Card?

You need education if you are 12 through 15 years old, unaccompanied, and will be operating a power-driven vessel or PWC of 10 hp or more in North Dakota. You must be at least 12 years old to take the boater safety education course.


Obtaining Your North Dakota Boating License

You can obtain your North Dakota boating license by taking the online BOATsmart! Course –  you’ll be on the water with confidence in just a few hours.



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The Official NASBLA and State-Approved Boating Course, Test & License.

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What are North Dakota’s Life Jacket Requirements

Failure to wear a personal flotation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents.


It is unlawful for any person to operate or to be a passenger on any vessel less than 27 feet in length unless all persons 10 years of age or younger present on the vessel, wear an appropriately sized and properly fastened U.S. Coast Guard approved type I, II or III wearable personal flotation device while the vessel is in operation.


A personal flotation device is appropriately sized if it is designed to be worn by a person of similar age, size or weight as the wearer.


Changes to the labeling of U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices will be appearing on the market over the next few years. Please be aware of the label changes (defined below) and be sure to meet the requirement for your vessel. Personal flotation devices with the previous style label will still be acceptable as long as they meet your vessel’s requirements.


Water users should make sure to wear life jackets that are the appropriate size, and in good condition. It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming.


North Dakota Boating License Requirements for Personal Watercrafts (PWCS)

The North Dakota Game & Fish Department currently has mandatory boater education requirement for all persons between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age who wish to operate a powered vessel over 10 hp, including personal watercraft (PWC), unless accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. 


Boating and Alcohol

North Dakota law prohibits anyone from boating under the influence—that is, operating any vessel or manipulating water skis, a surfboard, or any similar device while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or a combination of both.


Alcohol and drugs cause impaired balance, blurred vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slower reaction times. Alcohol is a major contributor to boating accidents and fatalities.


  • North Dakota law states that a person is presumed to be boating under the influence (BUI) if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or higher.
  • North Dakota law does not prohibit people of legal drinking age from consuming alcoholic beverages or possessing open containers in a boat.


North Dakota Boat Accident Reporting Requirements

Vessel operators involved in an accident must report the accident to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department if any person dies or disappears, if a person is injured and requires medical attention or if there is significant damage to the vessel. 

Written reports of accidents involving only property damage must be made within 5 days of the accident. However, you must file an accident report within 48 hours in cases involving a death, disappearance, or injury.

Accidents should be reported on accident report forms available from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.


North Dakota Game and Fish Department Contact Information

For more information about safe boating in North Dakota, contact the Department at:

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

100 N. Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 
[email protected]