Almost 10% of North Carolina is water, so it’s no wonder boating one of the state’s most popular year-round activities. The Wildlife Resources Commission manages over 200 free, 24/7 public boating access areas, and most of the state’s waterways allow power boating. With more than 50 lakes alone, it can be tough to choose the best boating destination, so we’ve done it for you.
Yes, in North Carolina this card is known as the North Carolina Boater Education Card and it is required if you were born on or after Jan. 31, 1988 and are operating a motorized boat powered by an engine of 10 HP or greater, on the public waters of North Carolina.
Most other states and most of Canada’s provinces and territories also require boaters to carry a Boater Education Card, more commonly known as a ‘Boating License’. Get the Card, even if you aren’t required to in North Carolina, and you’ll be good to go boating in most of North America.
North Carolina’s boaters must always comply with both federal and state boating laws and must follow any direction given by law enforcement. Learn more about North Carolina’s boating laws by taking the BOATsmart! North Carolina Course. North Carolina’s boating law authorities you’ll see on the water are:
Yes, your BOATsmart! Card is the same as a North Carolina Boater Education Card. In North Carolina the ‘Card’ is commonly referred to as a ‘Boating License’, although this is not the correct term.
In North Carolina it is illegal to operate any boat, including motorized boats, personal watercraft, water-skis, sailboats, sailboards or any other similar device, while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
In North Carolina, boaters are considered to be under the influence if they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher.
Learn more about the risks of drinking and boating by taking the BOATsmart! North Carolina Boating Safety Course!
Any person convicted or operating a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will be subject to significant fines and/or imprisonment.
Take the BOATsmart! North Carolina Course to learn more about the effects of alcohol on boaters and the laws for boating with alcohol in North Carolina.
Take the state-approved Boating Test right here on this website. Click here to access BOATsmart!’s 3-hour, Online Course.
Keep in mind, you must complete the BOATsmart! Course prior to accessing the Official Test. But there’s no rush, you don’t have to complete the entire Study Guide at in one sitting. BOATsmart! will automatically track and save your progress. Once you’ve completed the course you’ll be able to immediately access the test.
Yes! If you’re the type who would like to take a classroom course in boating safety, you can. Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for more information about registering for a classroom course in your area.
Yes, PWC operators are required to be at least 14 years of age in the state of North Carolina. It is illegal for any boaters younger than 14 to operate a PWC, regardless of their boater certifications.