Mandatory Boater Education
We encourage every boater to take a boater education course. However, if you were born after January 1, 1984, you must successfully complete an LDWF-approved boater education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower, unless you are accompanied by someone over age 18 who has a successfully completed an LDWF-approved boater education course, if required.
In addition, if you were born after January 1, 1984, you must successfully complete an approved boater education course to operate a personal watercraft. You must also be age 16 or older to operate a personal watercraft.
Individuals must carry their certification of course completion while on the motorboat or personal watercraft.
If you are a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, you are not required to take this course to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft.
Youth younger than age 10 may take a boater education course but are not eligible to be certified. They must retake the course to be certified when they reach 10 years of age or older.
Take a Boater Education Course
LDWF offers a free, in-person boater education course that satisfies boater education requirements. The course lasts between 6 and 8 hours and is usually completed in a day. LDWF law enforcement agents and trained volunteer instructors teach the course, which includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal and equipment requirements, navigation rules, navigation charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft, and more. You must receive a score of 70% or more to pass the course. In addition, disruptive behavior or not attending the entire course may cause you to fail.
LDWF offers these courses year-round. To register, create an account and sign up for a course online. Once you complete the course, you will receive a temporary Boater Education Card. You will receive a permanent card in the mail at a later date.
You can also take an LDWF-approved online boater education course through BoatUS.org or Boat-Ed.com. The BoatUS.org course is free, but Boat-Ed.com charges a fee. You must receive a score of 70% or more to pass the course. Once you complete an LDWF-approved online course, the website will provide you a temporary certificate. LDWF will issue you an official Boater Education Card in 3 to 4 weeks.
Want to learn more about canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard safety?
There is a free paddle sports safety course available online.
Don't want to carry your Boater Education Card on you?
Next time you renew your driver’s license at the Office of Motor Vehicles, you can add a Boater Education endorsement to your license for free. If you have this endorsement, you do not have to carry your Boater Education Card with you as long as you have your driver’s license.