Mandatory Boating License Requirements

Boat operators in Florida are required to obtain a Boating Safety Education ID Card (commonly referred to as a ‘boating license’) and are required to carry it on board during boat operation. They are also required to carry photo ID on the boat while operating.

The Florida Boating License is required for any person born on or after January 1st, 1988 in order for them to operate a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or more.

To obtain a Florida Boating License, boaters must complete a NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Course, or pass an equivalency exam.

Boating License Cards are issued by the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

Boating License Exemptions:

  • A person licensed by the USCG as a master of a vessel.
  • A person operating exclusively on a private lake or pond.
  • An operator who is accompanied on board by a person who is at least 18 years old and who has obtained a Boating Safety Education ID Card, provided that the person is responsible for the safe operation of the boat.
  • A non-resident who has in their possession proof that he or she has completed a NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Course or equivalency examination from another state.
  • A person who is operating a boat within 90 days of purchasing the boat and has available for inspection, a bill of sale meeting Florida’s requirements.
  • A person operating a boat within 90 days after completing a NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Course, who has photo ID and a certificate showing proof of completion of a Boating Safety Course. The certificate must display the person’s first and last name, their date of birth and the date the course was completed.

To learn more about Boater Education Requirements, or to get your Official Florida Boating License visit: https://www.boatsmartexam.com/us/florida/

Changes to Boating Safety Education ID Card Regulations

As of October 1st, 2011, a course-completion certificate from an approved Boating Safety Education Course can be used by a boat operator as proof of complying with the boating Safety ID Card requirements (so long as the operator carries the correct certificate, as well as photo ID with them).

Note: The course completion certificate is NOT a permanent replacement for the Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card.

Florida’s Liveries

Florida’s liveries (rental facilities) are prohibited from renting any vessel that does not have proper safety equipment on board, exceeds the recommended load capacity or is not in seaworthy condition.

All renters who are required by law to have obtained a Boating Safety Education ID Card, must have the card in their possession in order to rent a boat.

Rental facilities are required to provide pre-rental instruction to renters with safe separation information (for boats of 10 horsepower or more). The person instructing must have completed a NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Education Course and the rental instructor’s course must include at least the following information:

  • Operational characteristics.
  • Safe operation rules.
  • Right-of-way rules.
  • Operator responsibilities.
  • Local waterway characteristics.

The rental operation must also display boating safety information in a location that is visible to the renters.

Renting a Personal Watercraft in Florida

PWC rental operations must provide an on-water demonstration and a ‘check-ride’ to evaluate the proficiency of the renter and must also display safety information on the proper operation of a PWC, including the following information:

  • Propulsion, steering and stopping characteristics of the PWC.
  • The location and information included on PWC warning labels.
  • How to re-board a PWC.
  • The Navigation Rules and how they apply to PWC operation.
  • Issues such as seeing and being seen by other boaters, reckless operation, noise levels and environmental concerns.

Note: No person under the age of 18 is allowed to rent a PWC.

Florida’s Age/Horsepower Restrictions

In Florida, no person under 14 years of age is permitted to operate a personal watercraft (PWC), even if they have obtained their Boating Safety Education ID Card.

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