Who needs a Boating License in Wisconsin?

Any person born after January 1st, 1989, and who is 16 years of age or older, may operate a motorized boat on Wisconsin waterways if that person holds a valid Boating Safety Certificate, commonly called a boating license. The Certificate must be carried on board during boat operation.

The Certificate may be obtained by completing a Boating Safety Course that has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Once obtained, the certification is good for life.

Exemptions:

  • Anyone born before January 1, 1989.

Wisconsin’s Age and Horsepower Restrictions

  • A person under 10 years of age may not operate a motorized boat under any conditions.
  • A person 10 or 11 years of age may operate a motorized boat only if accompanied by a parent, a guardian, or a person at least 18 years old who is designated by the parent or guardian to supervise.
  • A person 12-15 years of age may operate a motorized boat if they are accompanied by a parent, a guardian, or a person who is at least 18 years old who is designated by the parent or guardian or they have completed a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)-approved Boating Safety Course.
  • A person who is 16 years of age may operate a motorized boat so long as they have completed a WDNR-approved Boating Safety Course.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Age Restrictions:

  • No person under 12 years of age may operate a PWC.
  • No person who is 12 years of age or older but under 16 years of age may operate a PWC unless he or she is in possession of a valid Boating Safety Certificate.
  • Individuals under the age of 16 are not permitted to rent PWCs.
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