Ohio's Boater Education Requirements

Boater Education Requirements in Ohio

Any person operating a boat powered by more than 10 horsepower must have a Boater Education Certificate for successful completion of a NASBLA-approved course, or a proficiency examination approved by the Ohio Division of Watercraft.

Boater Education Exceptions:

  • A person born before January 1, 1982.
  • A person who is operating a recreational boat who possesses a valid merchant mariner credential issued by the Coast Guard with at least one endorsement of master or operator. Proof of the credential must be carried on board during boat operation.

A person required to have the certificate indicated above and stopped by a law enforcement officer while operating a motorized boat powered by more than 10 horsepower, shall present to the law enforcement officer the certificate or proof of holding the certificate within 72 hours of being stopped.

Additionally, no rental business shall lease or rent a motorized boat powered by more than 10 horsepower to a person born on or after January 1, 1982, unless:

  • The person signs a statement indicating that they have completed an approved Boating Safety Course or proficiency exam as indicated above.
  • The person receives educational materials from the rental business and passes an exam with a score of 90% or better (achievement of the passing score will be indicated on or attached to the rental agreement).

Note: Any person born on or after January 1, 1982, who operates or supervises the operation of a leased or rented motorized boat shall meet the requirements in the paragraph above and shall be named as an operator on the rental agreement.

Ohio’s Age and Horsepower Restrictions

Supervision Requirements for Children

Except as provided, it is illegal for a person under 16 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (PWC). Children that are between 12-15 years of age may operate a PWC if a supervising person who is 18 years of age or older is also on board the PWC. If the supervisor was born on or after January 1, 1982, they must hold a Boating Safety Certificate and in the case of rented motorized boats, must meet the requirements of ORC 1547.052.

Persons under 12 years of age:

  • Must not operate any boat unless under the direct visual and audible supervision of a person who is 18 years of age or older—this excludes personal watercraft (PWCs)  and other motorized boats powered by more than 10 horsepower.
  • Must not operate a PWC.
  • Must not operate any other boat powered by more than 10 horsepower unless under the direct visual and audible supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who is aboard the motorized boat. If the supervising person is born on or after January 1, 1982, the supervising person must hold a certificate meeting the requirements of ORC 1547.05. In the case of a rented motorized boat, the supervising person must meet the requirements of ORC 1547.052.

It is illegal for a supervising person to allow any person they are supervising to violate any boating law.