Who needs a Boat License in Iowa?

Iowa requires any operator between 12-17 years of age, who will operate a motorized boat over 10 horsepower, or who will operate a personal watercraft (PWC), to obtain a Boater Education Certificate, commonly called a boat license.

Those operators who are required to obtain a Boater Education Certificate must carry the certificate on board during boat operation, as well as ensure that the certificate is available for inspection by law enforcement.

 Boat License Requirements in Iowa

Iowa’s Age and Horsepower Restrictions

Operators under 12 years of age:

  • Are permitted to operate a boat with a motor of more than 10 horsepower, if they supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age, and who is experienced in boat operation.

Operators between 12-17 years of age:

  • Are permitted to operate a boat with a motor of more than 10 horsepower, including personal watercraft (PWCs), if:
    • They have completed an Iowa Department of Natural Resources-approved Boater Education Course or;
    • They are being supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age, who is experienced in boat operation.
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