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How to Apply For a Boating License in Florida

Florida requires a Boater Education Card for boaters, and not a boating license. The regulatory authority for the card is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The card is mandatory for all boat operators 21 years of age and younger; older boaters do not require the card.

There is restriction on the age of boat operators. If you are under 14 years of age, you cannot operate a personal vessel on Florida waters even if you have your Boater Card. If you are required to have a Boater Card, you must have it onboard at all times along with a photo ID.

The boating laws of the state require that the person operating a boat should not be under the influence of intoxicants. The legal limit of the blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% and if arrested for a higher BAC, harsh penalties may be imposed on the operator, based on the severity of the offense as well as the previous number of such convictions.

EXEMPTIONS

The following persons are exempt from the above requirements:

  • Boat operators possessing a valid boaters' license issued by the U.S Coast Guard or the Canadian Government.
  • Operators on a private lake.
  • Operators holding a valid boat safety education card from another state.
  • Operators accompanied by a boat education card holder at least 18 years of age.

BOATER EDUCATION COURSE

To obtain the Boater Education Card, you must complete a boater education course approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), or pass an approved equivalency test. In an approved course, students learn how to operate and maintain their boats, the legal requirements for boating, and what to do in emergencies. This ensures that boating remains a safe and fun experience. There are various approved ways you can complete the course and obtain the card:
  1. There is a FWC approved online course available - please see the top of this page.
  2. Eleven classroom options offered by the U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, Boater 101, Boat Us, Chapman School of Seamanship, Marine Resource Institute, Marine Resources Center, Florida Safe Boating and Vessel Relocation Service, Safe Boating Institute, U.S. Sailing and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
    • The course duration is a minimum of eight hours with the Auxiliary unit giving options to attend one eight hour session or 12 evening sessions, Monday to Thursday.
    • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary charges a fee of $50.
    • To pass the course, you must get 80% of the answers right on the exam administered at the end of the course.
  3. You can pre-register by contacting the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary unit at (850) 215-2015 for Panama City and (850) 243-8345 for the Destin location.
  4. One home study course approved by the U.S. Power Squadrons and giving a proctored exam or give the test online to receive certification.
    • To pass the course, you must get 80% of the answers right.
    • You can choose to receive the material in the form of a manual, a CD or access the material online.
    • Contact them at 1 (888) FOR-USPS to pre-register and request study material.
  5. One home study course conducted by the FWC.
    • After reading the material, you will be required to take the test on the back of the guide and mail it in for grading.
    • You must get 80% of the answers right to pass the course.
  6. The course may take up to 8 hours to complete; some options require you to complete the course in one sitting.
  7. Course materials are free. Some providers charge a fee for exams or the card: check providers' websites for details.
  8. A temporary card may be printed after passing the online exam.
Note: You will have to send a copy of your certificate of completion after passing any of the above stated courses to the FWC to receive your boat education identification card. Mail your certificate copy along with your name, address telephone number and date of birth to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Division of Law Enforcement
Boating Safety Section
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399    

RENEWAL

The card is permanent. There is no need to renew it.

REPLACEMENT

To replace a card, mail the FWC your proof of course completion, date of birth, name, address and phone number to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Division of Law Enforcement
Boating Safety Section
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399    
Students who took the exam online may obtain a duplicate card by contacting their providers, and for a fee - check the providers' websites for details.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • While liability insurance is not mandatory for boating in Florida, it is a good idea to have liability insurance to tide over troubles if you or someone operating your boat is involved in a boating accident.
  • Read the course material for the Boater Education Course.
  • See how to register your boat in Florida.
  • Check the FAQs, where you can add a question and request an emailed answer from FWC.
 

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