Connecticut does not require a boating license for boat operators. However, operators need to have a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC) or a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO). The regulatory authority for the certificate is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
There is no restriction on the age of boat operators. If you are under 16 years of age, you can operate a boat under the direct, onboard supervision of an adult who has had their safety certificate or CPWO for at least two years.
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.
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 renting a motorboat for 14 days or lesser. The boat rental company must instruct such operators on how to operate the boat safely and give them a summary of the boating law.
BOATER EDUCATION COURSE
To obtain the SBC or CPWO or both, you must attend classes operated by the Connecticut DEP. The DEP also offers voluntary Canoe and Kayak safety classes for beginners who have not taken any other boat safety course. There is also an optional course on Coastal Boating for operators who plan to use their vessels on coastal waters.
In the SBC/CPWO 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 certificate:
- Three classroom options offered by Connecticut DEP, the U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S Power Squadrons.
- The course offered by the DEP is 8 to 10 hours and divided between two evening classes for two weeks.
- The courses taught by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer a variety of classes ranging from six lessons to 13.
- The course offered by the U.S. Power Squadrons range from classroom teaching to home study.
- The certificate is mailed once you mail the certificate application to the DEP with proof of course completion.
- Only the card issued after one of these courses is recognized in most other states, and by many insurance companies for insurance discounts.
- Two approved online options offered by Safe Boating America and Connecticut Boating Education.
- These courses may take up to 8 hours to complete; some options require you to complete the course in one sitting and some offer private coaching as well.
- Course materials are free. Some providers charge a fee for exams or the card: check providers' websites for details.
- A temporary card may be printed after passing the online exam; the permanent card will be mailed to you.
- Classroom and self-study options approved by the Commissioner include those taught by the Connecticut Community Colleges, AB Sea Safe Boating, America Boating Classes, American Boat School, American Safety Council, American Sailing Association, Boatwise and the U.S. Sailing Association.
The card is permanent. There is no need to renew it.
To replace a card, request a duplicate certificate application and send it to CT DEP, Boating Division, P.O. Box 280 (333 Ferry Road), Old Lyme, CT 06371-0280. You may also contact the Boating Division at (860) 434-8638. The replacement fee is $10. 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.
- While liability insurance is not mandatory for boating in Connecticut, 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 Connecticut.
- Check the contact information of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection.