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How to Apply For a Boating License in Alabama

Boat licenses are available only to operators of age 12 years or older. If you have a Vessel Learner License, you must be accompanied by a driver who is 21 years or older and has a current operating license onboard to help in the case of an emergency. Operators of age 14 years or older can sail alone.

The laws also 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 similar convictions.


Boat operators from outside Alabama, either 12 years old or above, can sail their boat on Alabama waters for a period of 45 days without an Alabama boating license. For more than 45 days, they must either use their out-of-state boating license or apply for an Alabama Non-Resident Vessel Operator's License. If the out-of-state operator is between 12-14 years of age, he/she should be accompanied by a driver who is 21 years or older and has a current operating license onboard, or is exempt from getting a license for 45 days for being a non-resident in Alabama, to help in the case of an emergency.


To obtain the boating license, you must pass a written/oral examination or complete a boater education course conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadron, or the Alabama Marine Police ‘Boating Basics' Course. You can also take a state approved online course like the Boat-Ed Course or the Boater Exam Course.

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.


A boating license can only be applied in person at the Probate or License Commissioner's Office. To get the license, you need to:

  1. Submit an application for the boating license along with an application fee of $5. The issuance fee is $23.
  2. Go to your county's Department of Public Safety Driver's License Examining Office.
  3. You will need to provide information about your personal medical history.
  4. You will need to clear the written/oral examination, unless you have the proof of having already completed the Boater Education Course, or if you were born before April 28, 1954. You also do not need to take the examination if you hold a current boat operator license from the U.S. Coast Guard.
  5. Go to the Probate or License Commissioners office and get the "V" class endorsed on your license.


Your vessel license will be renewed every four years when your driver's license is renewed.


To replace a card, write with your name, date of birth or social security number, your mailing address, date and location of class along with a fee of $5 to:

Alabama Marine Police
64 North Union Street, Room 438
Montgomery, AL 36130    


  • While liability insurance is not mandatory for boating in Alabama, 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.
  • See how to register your boat in Alabama.
  • Check the contact information of Department of Public Safety Driver License.

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