Boating License Requirements

Any person born on or after Jan 1, 1988, is required to complete a NASBLA -approved Boating Education Course, in order to legally operate a motorized boat of 10 horsepower or more, on the public waters of North Carolina.

The Boater Education Certification, commonly called a Boating License, must be carried on board be available for inspection by law enforcement during boat operation.

 Boating License Requirements North Carolina

North Carolina’s Age and Horsepower Restrictions

Any person operating a boat powered by 10 horsepower or more, who is under 26 years of age, may operate a boat in North Carolina, only under one of the following conditions:

  • They have successfully completed a NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Course and are carrying their Boater Education Certification Card on board during boat operation.
  • They are being directly supervised by a person who is 26 years of age or older.
  • They are being directly supervised by a person who is a minimum of 18 years of age who has successfully completed an approved Boating Safety Course and is carrying their Boater Education Certification Card on board during operation. 

Age and Horsepower Restrictions for Personal Watercraft (PWCs)

It is illegal for any person that is 13 years of age or under to operate a PWC.

Any person that is 14 or 15 years of age may legally operate a PWC only if:

  • They are accompanied on board the personal watercraft (PWC) by a person who is at least 18 years old and who is in compliance with North Carolina’s boat operation requirements, OR;
  • They are carrying personal identification (to show their proof of age) and a Boater Education Certification Card (to show their proof of passing a state-approved and NASBLA-approved Boating Safety Course, OR;
  • They are carrying identification showing their proof of age and proof of other Boating Safety Education that satisfies North Carolina’s boat operation requirements.

Any person that is 16 years old or older may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater only if they comply with North Carolina’s requirements for boat operation.

It is illegal for the owner of a personal watercraft (PWC) to knowingly allow a person under 16 years of age to operate a PWC unless that person meets North Carolina’s boat operation requirements.

Additionally, it is illegal for a person who has temporary or permanent responsibility for a person under 16 years of age to knowingly allow that person to operate a PWC unless they meet the above requirements.

A personal watercraft rental agency (or livery) must provide instructions on safe PWC operation before allowing anyone to operate a rented PWC.

START NOW