Beginning January 1, 2018, boaters 20 years of age and younger must carry a California Boater Card. By 2025 all boaters will be required to carry a California Boater Card. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime.
A California Boat Operator Card (or boating license) proves that you’ve obtained the knowledge needed to safely operate a motorized boat on California’s waterways. Become a certified California boater by taking the Official BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course & Test now.
Approved By: California Department of Boating and Waterways, 2000 Evergreen St. Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95815, 1-888-326-2822, www.dbw.ca.gov
20 years or younger.
Official & State Approved.
We've been making smart boaters for more than 13 years. BOATsmart! is North America’s largest Boating Safety Course Provider. We’re proud to be America’s Official Boating Educator. Your BOATsmart! Card is accepted in more than 40 U.S. states & in Canada. We’ve got you covered!
Our animated and narrated Boating Safety Course is perfect for all ages. Study from your Smartphone, Tablet or Desktop and switch between devices at any time. Get certified now and cruise through at your own pace. We'll automatically track your progress as you go.
Think of us as your boating coaches and get in touch by phone, email or chat anytime you need our support! Our team of safe boating experts can answer any questions you have about getting your Boating License, boating laws or they can even just hook you up with some great tips and advice to help you enjoy your time on the water.
What Happens If It Takes Me Longer Than 3-Hours To Complete The BOATsmart! Course? Will I Need To Start Over?
The 3-hour timer is only a minimum requirement. You’re free to spend as much time as you need in the BOATsmart! Study Guide before taking the Final Test.
Where Can I Take California’s Boating Safety Test?
Take the state-approved Boating Test right here on this website. Click here to access BOATsmart!’s 3-hour, Online Course. Keep in mind, you must complete the BOATsmart! Course prior to accessing the Official Test. But there’s no rush, you don’t have to complete the entire Study Guide at in one sitting. BOATsmart! will automatically track and save your progress. Once you’ve completed the course you’ll be able to immediately access the test.
Is a Boating License Required In California?
Each year a new age group will be added to those who are required to possess a valid card. By 2025, all persons who operate on California waters will be required to have one. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime. California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b) contains the following phase-in schedule based on operator age:
January 1, 2018 – Persons 20 years of age or younger
January 1, 2019 – Persons 25 years of age or younger
January 1, 2020 – Persons 35 years of age or younger
January 1, 2021 – Persons 40 years of age or younger
January 1, 2022 – Persons 45 years of age or younger
January 1, 2023 – Persons 50 years of age or younger
January 1, 2024 – Persons 60 years of age or younger
January 1, 2025 – All persons regardless of age
The card is issued by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). DBW began issuing the California Boater Card on Dec. 1, 2017. The lifetime card fee is $10. The lost card replacement fee is $5.
How Do I Prepare For The California Boating Safety Test?
Prepare for the official California Boating Safety Test with the BOATsmart Course which includes animated, narrated and brilliantly illustrated lessons, perfect for all ages. The 3-hour California Boating Safety Course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and by the California Department of Boating and Waterways and includes all the knowledge you need in order to obtain your California Boater Education Certificate.
What Are The Speed Limits On California’s Waterways For Boaters?
Speed limits range in California’s waters. However, in all cases, the speed limit is 5 mph anytime the boat is within 100 feet of a bather or within 200 feet of a bathing beach, swimming float, diving platform or life line, passenger landing being used, or landing where boats are tied up. Always obey posted speed limit signs. It’s the law!Learn more about speed limits and restrictions by taking the BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course!
My 3-Hour Study Guide Timer Has Almost Finished Its Countdown, What Happens If I Run Out Of Time?
The 3-hour timer is only a minimum requirement. You’re free to spend as much time as you need in the BOATsmart! California Study Guide before taking the final Boating Safety Test.
What Will I Learn In The BOATsmart! Boater Safety Course?
The BOATsmart! Boater Safety Course includes all of the knowledge required to pass the Official Boating Safety Test and obtain your California Boater Education Card. When completing the online boating course you’ll learn everything you need to:
Understand boating safety basics and terminology
Understand the Rules and Regulations that govern America’s waterways
Equip your boat with the right equipment
Properly maintain your boat and its equipment
Share the waterways and operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner
Have confidence when navigating amongst other boat traffic during the day or night
Be able to recognize different marker buoys and navigate using them
Know how to respond in emergency situations
Is BOATsmart! a Recognized Boating Safety Organization?
Who Is Required To Wear Life Jackets On California Waters?
The only boaters REQUIRED to wear their life jackets in California are:
•Any boaters 13 years of age or younger who are on boats under 26 feet in length.
•PWC operators and passengers.
•Passengers being towed (unless they are professional performers or they involved in an official regatta or tournament).
Are Personal Watercraft (PWC) Operators Required To Have a ‘Kill Switch’ In California?
California does not require the installation of a ‘kill switch’ on a PWC. However, if you own any boat or PWC that is equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard, the state of California does require you to use the lanyard by attaching the safety device to yourself, to your clothing, or life jacket, as appropriate for the type of boat you’re operating.
Do I Need a Driver’s License To Operate a Motorized Boat?
No. The state of California does not require boaters to have a driver’s license in order to operate a boat. However, boaters are encouraged to obtain a California Boater Education Card – hit the waters with confidence!
Will My California Boating License Card Ever Expire?
Nope! Your BOATsmart! Card will be good for life. But don’t be a stranger – BOATsmart! offers free refresher lessons that will help you keep your boating knowledge up to date! California’s boating laws may change over time. Make sure you’re in the know.
Will My California Boating License Be Valid In Other States?
Yes! The BOATsmart! Card is accepted in 40 states, which extend reciprocity. This means the BOATsmart! Course meets the National Standards established by NASBLA. This law applies to operators of motorized boats, but not in all states to operators of personal watercraft (PWCs). Always check the boating laws in the state you plan to visit prior to operating a boat or PWC there.
Can I Access The BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Test Without Completing The 3-Hour Online BOATsmart! Course?
No. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) requires California boaters to complete the full 3-hour online study guide in order to access the online version of the Boater Education Test. However, you don’t have to complete the entire Study Guide in one sitting. BOATsmart! will automatically track and save your progress. Once you’ve completed all modules and quizzes you’ll be able to access California’s Official Boater Education Card Test.
I Read The BOATsmart! Study Guide Module, Why Can’t I Access The Next Lesson?
In order to access to the next module lesson or the module quiz, you must complete the minimum time requirement on your current lesson page. You’ll likely be able to move forward by the time you check back!
Do I Need To Insure My Boat In California?
Boater’s are not required to have boat insurance in California. However, in some states boaters are required to carry boat insurance, so always check with boating law authorities in the state you plan to boat in. If you’re the ‘better safe than sorry’ type and plan on getting boat insurance, you’ll recieve a discount with most insurance companies for having a boating license. Get certified with BOATsmart! today and save!
I Want To Get a California Boater Education Card. Where Can I Take The Boating Safety Test?
You can take the official state approved and NASBLA approved Boating Safety Course Test on this website. Click here to access the California Boating License Course.
Is My Two-Stroke Engine Or Personal Watercraft (PWC) Illegal On California’s Waters?
What Are The Fines And Penalties In California For Boaters Convicted Of Operating A Boat While Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Drugs?
In California, boaters convicted of operating under the influence (OUI) will face a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and face up to 6 months in jail. Never drink and drive. Learn more about the risks of boating with alcohol by taking the BOATsmart! Boater Safety Course.
What Is The Legal Limit For Alcohol Consumption When Operating a Boat In California?
In California, you will be considered to be ‘under the influence’ of alcohol if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or higher. Understand that a BAC level of at least 0.05% but less than 0.08% can be used with other evidence to determine if a boat operator was under the influence of alcohol. Although it isn’t illegal to drink alcohol while boating, it’s important to recognize that the California State Parks DBW recently discovered that in 66% of all of California’s alcohol-related fatalities, the victims fell overboard and drowned. Drink responsibly and be safe out there, boaters!
I Lost My California Boater Education Card – Can I Order A Replacement?
Is a California Boater Education Certificate The Same Thing As a Boating License?
Yes, the BOATsmart! California Boater Education Card is commonly referred to as a ‘Boating License’ or ‘Boat License Card’.
Who Enforces The Laws On California’s Waterways?
California’s boating laws are in place to keep the state waters a safe place for everyone enjoying them. Always comply with the laws in place and follow any direction given by law enforcement. You can learn more about California’s boating laws by taking the BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course. There are several boating law authorities in the state of California:
What Are The Minimum Technical Requirements To Access The Online Boating Safety Test?
The following technical requirements are necesssary:
1024 x 768 Screen Resolution
Firefox 3.0 or greater
Internet Explorer 6.0 or greater
Safari 2.0 or greater
Some pop-up blockers may require you to enable pop-ups to use this site
Certain areas of this site require Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader
The final exam requires Internet Connectivity which is at 56kb or above
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More than 40 U.S. States have mandatory education and boat license requirements for operating motorized boats and PWCs. Each BOATsmart! State Approved Boating Safety Course and Boating License Test has been developed and approved in partnership with state agencies responsible for boating education in that state.