What is a California Boater Card?
The California Boater Card is proof that a boater has successfully passed the California Boating Safety Test. Beginning on Jan 1, 2018, the state of California began phasing in a law that requires boaters to obtain and carry a boater card. The law is being phased in over 8 years.
Is the California Boater Card the same as a Boating License?
A California Boater Card is official proof that you have successfully completed a California state-approved boating safety course. Boaters commonly refer to the Boater Card as a California boating license however, this is incorrect. Unlike a license, a Boater Card does not expire and doesn’t need to be renewed.
Who needs a California Boater Card?
Beginning on Jan 1, 2018 the requirement to obtain a California Boater Card took effect and is being phased in over an 8 year period. Each year a new age group is included, and depending on your age, you may currently need a Boater Card. In 2020, all boaters 35 years of age and younger require a Boater Card. By 2025 all boaters in California will require a Card.
Who is exempt from having to obtain a California Boater Card?
- Any person operating a vessel while under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of a California Boater Card.
- Any person operating a rental vessel.
- Any person operating a vessel in an organized regatta or vessel race, or water ski race.
- A person who is in possession of a current commercial fishing license.
- A person who is in possession of a valid marine operator license, for the waters upon which the licensee is operating, issued by the US Coast Guard, or who is in possession of a valid certificate issued pursuant to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.
- A person who has successfully completed a boating course approved by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
- A person who is a resident of a state other than California who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for less than 60 days and meets the boating requirements, if any, of his/her state.
- A person who is a resident of a country other than the United States who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for less than 90 days and meets the boating requirements, if any, of his/her country.
What is the fine for not having the Card?
Boaters caught without a Boater Card may receive a fine of up to $100 for the first conviction, $250 for the second conviction and $500 for the third.
How do I get a California Boater Card?
You can obtain your official Boater Card from BOATsmart! in three steps: 1. Take the BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course online. 2. Pass the California Boating Safety Test online. 3. Print a Certification of Completion immediately.
Will my California Boater Card ever expire?
No. Your California Boater 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.
Do I need a Driver’s License to operate a boat in California?
No. The state of California does not require boaters to have a driver’s license in order to operate a boat. However, as of January 1st, 2020 a California Boater Card will be required for anyone under the age of 35, with everyone requiring a California Boater Card by 2025.
Do I need a Boater Card for all types of boats?
Depending on your age, the California Boater Card will be required for all operators of any motorized vessel, including Personal Watercraft (PWCs) and Jet Skis, when operating on California waterways.
How long does the California Boater Course take?
The state of California requires that you spend a minimum of 3 hours studying the online course. The purchase of your BOATsmart! California Boating Safety Course includes unlimited lifetime access.
Is my California Boater Card valid in other states?
Yes. The California Boater 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.