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Official New York Boating Course

The New York  BOATsmart! Boating Safety Course is approved and accredited by New York Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. With more than 3,000 Five Star Reviews, we’re proud to be recognized as an official New York State Boating Course and the choice of boaters in New York.

 

START THE COURSE

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NASBLA & Coast Guard Approved

The BOATsmart! New York Boating Safety Course is officially recognized by the United States Coast Guard as meeting the standards of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program. BOATsmart!’s online New York Boating Safety Course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) as it meets and exceeds U.S. Boating Education Standards. NASBLA develops education standards for boating safety and represents boating law administrators in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

BOATsmart! courseware on a tablet.

Watch, Listen & Learn

From anywhere, on any device at any time.

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. BOATsmart! automatically tracks your progress so you can study at your own pace.

New York Boater Education Requirements

WHAT IS A NEW YORK BOATING SAFETY CERTIFICATE

A New York Boating Safety Certificate proves that you’ve obtained the knowledge needed to safely operate a motorized boat on New York waterways. As of January 1, 2020 boaters born on or after Jan. 1st 1993 are required to obtain a boating safety certificate. By 2025 all boat operators will be required to carry a New York Boating Safety Certificate. Once issued, the card is good for life.

WHERE CAN I GET MY NEW YORK BOATING CERTIFICATE?

You can get your New York Boating Safety Certificate by completing the Official BOATsmart! Course online. Once you successfully complete the online study guide and final exam, you can print a temporary card immediately.  BOATsmart! will mail your permanent card within 4-6 weeks. 

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO GET A BOATER CARD IN NEW YORK?

You must be at least 10 years of age to complete the New York Boater Education Course and obtain your New York Boating Safety Certificate.

AGE AND HORSEPOWER RESTRICTIONS

Boaters who are less than 10 years of age may not operate a boat in New York unless they are accompanied on board by a person who is 18 years of age or older who has obtained a Boating Safety Certificate. 

New York state requires anyone operating a personal watercraft (PWC) to be at least 14 years of age and to have completed an approved Boating Safety Course, or be supervised on board by a person who is 18 years of age or older who has their Boating Safety Certificate. 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY BOATING SAFETY CERTIFICATE?

It takes a minimum of 3 hours to get your New York Boating Safety Certificate online. Once you’ve completed the online course and official test, you can print a temporary card and go boating right away. Your permanent card will be mailed to you by BOATsmart! within 4-6 weeks. 

CAN I GET REFRESHER LESSONS AFTER TAKING THE NEW YORK BOATING COURSE?

Yes. New York boaters can keep up-to-date on the latest boating regulations with the free BOATsmart! Knowledge Base. Learn about boating equipment requirements, navigation and right-of-way regulations and restrictions that may apply on New York waterways to be sure that you’re safe and confident on the water. 

DO I NEED A LICENSE TO RENT A BOAT IN NEW YORK?

Boat operators in New York are required to have obtained their New York Boating Safety Certificate in order to rent a boat in the state. Additionally the renter is required to be at least 18 years of age.

Boating and alcohol in New York

NEW YORK BOATING AND ALCOHOL LAWS

It is illegal to operate a boat on the waters of New York State while impaired or intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs.

In New York State, a person is considered to be under the influence (legally intoxicated) if:

  • They have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher.
  • They are under the age of 21 and have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level between 0.02% – 0.07%.

ZERO TOLERANCE LAW FOR MINORS

Additionally, boaters who are under 21 years of age and are caught consuming alcohol while operating a boat will be subject to the suspension or revocation of their boat operating privileges. 

New York Boating Age Requirements

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Less than 10 years of age

Boaters who are less than 10 years of age may not operate a boat in New York unless they are accompanied on board by a person who is 18 years of age or olders who has obtained a Boating Safety Certificate.

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PWC AGE RESTRICTIONS

New York state requires anyone operating a personal watercraft (PWC) to be at least 14 years of age and to have completed an approved Boating Safety Course, or be supervised on board by a person who is 18 years of age or older who has their Boating Safety Certificate.

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New York's Boating Fines

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Operating under the influence

Up to $1000

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Failure to carry New York Boating Safety Certificate

Up to $250

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Failure to Report a Boat Accident

Up to $1000

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Life jacket violations

Up to $250

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Boat Muffler Violations

Up to $250

General New York boating FAQs

WHO REGULATES BOATING LAWS IN NEW YORK?

The New York Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is responsible for regulating boating laws in the state of New York. 

Boating Emergencies:

Call 911 to report a boating emergency in New York

WHO ENFORCES NEW YORK’S BOATING LAWS?

In the state of New York, the U.S. Coast Guard enforces federal navigation laws on joint jurisdictional waters. State and local navigation laws are enforced by:

  • State Park Police.
  • State Police.
  • Department of Environmental Conservation officers.
  • County and local agencies.

 

Violations of state and federal statutes carry fines and/or imprisonment.

 

State of New York Badge

How to register a boat in New York

NEW YORK BOAT REGISTRATION

In New York, all motorized recreational boats, including personal watercraft (commonly called jetskis© or PWCs), canoes and rowboats with electric motors and federally documented boats, are required to be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and must display validation stickers. 

The registration certificate must be carried on board the boat at all times during operation, and must be available for inspection by law enforcement. Boat registration in New York is valid for 3 years from the date of registration.

 

THESE VESSELS DO NOT REQUIRE REGISTRATION IN New York

  • Commercially operated boats with either a U.S. or foreign document.
  • Boats legally registered in another state (up to 90 consecutive days maximum).
  • A ship’s lifeboats (not including tenders and dinghies).
  • Competition race boats.
  • Non-motorized boats (human or wind-powered).

 

BOAT TITLING REQUIREMENTS

The Department of Motor Vehicles issues titles to all 1987 model year and newer boats which are at least 14 feet in length. The title is your proof of ownership which must be surrendered to a new owner at time of transfer. If your boat is less than 14 feet, then the registration certificate serves as the proof of ownership and must be signed over to a new owner.

Boats in New York are required to correctly display their registration number and validations stickers. 

 

Registration numbers and stickers must be displayed as follows:

  • A space, or a hyphen, the width of a letter, must separate the first and last two letters from the four middle numbers (NY 1234 AB).
  • The numbers must be painted or permanently attached to both sides of the boat’s bow and be clearly visible (no other numbers may be displayed in this area).
  • The numbers should read from left to right, be of block letters not less than 3 inches in height, and of a color that contrasts with that of the hull.
  • The numbers must be readable from at least 100 feet during daylight hours.
  • The registration number may not be transferred to another boat.
  • Validation stickers must be affixed to the hull, in line with and no further than 3 inches aft of, the registration number (these placement requirements also apply to  federally documented boats).
  • These requirements are also applicable to personal watercraft (PWCs).

 

DO I NEED BOAT INSURANCE IN NEW YORK?

Boats in New York are not required to be insured, however it is recommended.

New York lifejacket laws

 

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New York lifejacket laws

Every vessel including canoes, kayaks and row boats operated in NYS must have on board an appropriately sized US Coast Guard approved wearable life-jacket for each person aboard. 

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Canoes and Kayaks

Canoes and kayaks must carry one one wearable lifejacket (Type I, II, III or V) for each person on board. A throwable (Type IV) device is not required on canoes and kayaks.

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Boats more than 16 ft in length

Boats more than 16 ft in length must carry one wearable life jacket (Type I, II, III or V) for each person on board. Additionally, a throwable device must be carried on board all boats than a more than 16 feet in length

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Personal Watercraft

Operators of personal watercraft, passengers and anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Type I, II, III or V PFD. Inflatable lifejackets are excluded.

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12 Years of age & Younger

Children under 12 years of age are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on board a boat that is less than 65 feet in length (including canoes, kayaks and rowboats) unless they are in a completely enclosed cabin.

Personal watercraft laws & regulations

HOURS OF OPERATION

PWCs may only be legally operated from sunrise to sunset, even if aftermarket lights have been installed. 

 

AGE REQUIREMENTS

All operators of PWCs in California must be at least 15 years of age or older to operate a PWC, without adult supervision. 

NEW YORK PWC REGULATIONS

  • Life jackets must be worn at all times by PWC operators and passengers.
  • All PWCs in New York must be equipped with an engine cut off switch. 
  • The PWC must be equipped with a horn of whistle capable of a 2-second blast
  • PWCs must be equipped with a manufacturer installed backfire flame arrestor and ventilator. 

Environmental Protection

NON-NATIVE AQUATIC SPECIES

Non-native aquatic species, plants, fish and animals are invading New York’s  waters. These pests can increase dramatically under the right conditions, displacing native species, clogging waterways, and impacting navigation and recreation.

Once introduced, they are nearly impossible to eliminate, and can be accidentally transported by recreational boaters when caught in propellers, intakes or attached to hulls. 

Be sure to report new infestations of non-native aquatic species to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (209) 946-6400 or report to New York State online at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/environment/invasive-species-report-form.page

HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF NON-NATIVE SPECIES

  • Inspect all surfaces of your boat and remove aquatic plants or animals before leaving any body of water.
  • Ensure you flush raw-water cooling systems and clean sea-strainers before moving your boat from one body of water to another.
  • Empty and dry any buckets before leaving a body of water. 
  • Remove any plant fragments from bait wells, fishing gear, trailers, dive gear or props. 
  • Dispose of plant fragments and bait into a garbage receptacle on land.  
  • Avoid chopping vegetation with your boat’s propeller.
  • Clean and dry all live-wells prior to transporting your boat.
  • Drain all water from your motor and bilge and dry all areas. t.
  • Thoroughly wash your boat, including the hull, before putting it into a new body of water.
  • Refer to specific drying times.

 

For more information on how to stop the spread of AIS in New York, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50121.html

Infestations of non-native species

Report new infestations of non-native aquatic species to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (209) 946-6400.

NEW YORK AIS ONLINE REPORTING

Visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/environment/invasive-species-report-form.page to easily report sightings of AIS in New York state.

The Empire State, Blue Waters, Good Times

New York state logo.

New York Boating Destinations

Explore the Empire State! 

Will you be visiting a big city like New York City or Buffalo? Or a smaller NY town in the Hudson Valley or Adirondacks like Lake Placid? maybe you plan on visiting the Thousand Islands Seaway, Finger Lakes area or ‘close-to-the-bustle’ Long Island. NY state has something for everybody! So make some plans, or don’t plan anything and just go exploring! Whatever your style, just make sure you get on water and get yourself into a ‘New York state of mind’.  

NEW YORK STATE PARKS

Everywhere you look in NY, there’s a New York State Park sign and an opportunity to break away from the busy flow of the everyday to enjoy the great outdoors. There are over 215 state and national parks to choose from! 

So which park should you choose? Any of the 20 state parks located on Long Island or the very popular Niagara Falls state parks region will all boast endless activities for visitors. However, you can also find quiet parks that offer trails and boat launch ramps for boaters, paddlers and hikers who prefer the simpler sound of the wind in the pines. Like Adirondack Park, which, although not technically a state park as it’s partially provately owed,this protected area covers 6 million acres in northern New York and contains over 3,000 lakes. You’re sure to find a quiet spot to launch your boat in there! 

NEW YORK BEST BOATING LAKES

Where you should plan to launch your boat and hit the water in New York state really depends on the region you plan on visiting. But New York state has more than 7,500 lakes, reservoirs and ponds and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. So to get you started, we thought we’d name just a few of our favorite locations to hit the water in NY!

Helpful resources for boating in New York