Some form of boating license is required by all drivers who would like to operate any boat with a motor or large sailboat in Connecticut. How to get a boating license can be chosen by the CT boat driver, though most simply opt to enroll in a state-approved education program to receive the necessary certification. To meet the eligibility requirements to receive a permit, CT drivers must be a certain age and have some connection to the state of Connecticut, like residency or ownership of property.

Enrolling in an approved boaters safety course can be done in a few simple steps in Connecticut. All education programs approved by the Boating policies and education requirements are overseen by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in Connecticut. Most types of recreational water vessels with a motor and sailboats over a certain length must also be titled by the DEEP to be legally operated on Connecticut waterways. Read on to learn more about legally driving boats in Connecticut.

Do you need a license to drive a boat in Connecticut?

To legally operate a boat in Connecticut, passing a boating course or receiving some sort of similar qualification is required by all drivers. Technically speaking, the CPW does not issue boating licenses or require any drivers to apply for a license. Drivers of water vessels who meet any of the following conditions must complete a state-approved education program to be able to legally operate a motorized boat or sailboat over 19.5 feet in length:

  • Residents of Connecticut
  • Boat drivers who own property in Connecticut
  • Operators of vessels registered in Connecticut

A specific exam must be passed by drivers of personal watercraft (PWC). Some minors can qualify to operate water vessels and PWC, but some must remain under the supervision of a licensed adult.

Connecticut Boat License Requirements

There are multiple boat safety certificate options that CT drivers can apply for to be able to legally operate water vessels in the state. Drivers who can provide proof of passing any of the following types of boating classes will be able to legally operate a water vessel in Connecticut:

  • Safe Boating Certificate (SBC)
  • Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO)
  • Valid vessel operator license issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG)

To be approved by DEEP, the boating school must provide courses that are a minimum of eight hours in length. The basic boating license age in Connecticut is 16 years of age. Drivers who are younger than 16 years of age can only operate water vessels under the direct supervision of a licensed adult.

Children 12 years of age and younger cannot operate motorized water vessels without supervision under any circumstances. The same age restrictions apply to drivers of PWC, who should enroll in a CPWO course.

Getting a Boat License in Connecticut

Drivers cannot enroll in an online boaters safety course to meet the state’s education requirement and earn an SBC. Instead, all CT drivers are required to meet the education requirement through a classroom-based program that provides in-person lessons. Beyond the CPWO and licenses issued by the USCG, there are two levels of SBC education that boaters can enroll in: the basic safety course and the DEEP’s Equivalency Examination for more experienced boaters.

To pass the boat license test, drivers must be able to answer at least 80% of the exam’s questions correctly. Signing up for lessons is as simple as referring to the DEEP’s list of approved courses and enrolling in one of the options currently accepting students.

Drivers must complete an application form to enroll in the DEEP course. All courses cost a standard enrollment fee. Once completed, students can print the certificate of completion for a course one week after passing the course exam.

Connecticut Boater Safety Courses

Although an online boating license is not an option for drivers in Connecticut, students have several options for enrolling in a classroom-based course. Approved programs offer valid boat certification to CT residents who meet state age requirements and who attend all eight hours of the course.

Drivers who have a great deal of experience operating water vessels should sign up for the DEEP Equivalency Examination, which covers more detailed topics than the basic safety course. In all state-approved courses, students can expect to learn basic operation techniques for a variety of types of water vessels in addition to the rules and regulations that govern CT waterways.

Getting a boat license requires boaters to be comfortable operating water vessels and to be familiar with CT waterway regulations. How long does it take to get a boating license in Connecticut? Most drivers complete the necessary course requirements within one day. Some courses may include additional topics which extend the duration of the course.

All students must pay the appropriate course fee to be able to enroll in a state-approved program. Once received, drivers should keep their certificate of completion of the course with them at all times when operating a boat.

Renewing and Replacing a Connecticut Boating License

It is necessary for boaters to keep their boater education card with them when operating a water vessel. If a boater somehow loses or misplaces his or her proof of completion for a course, he or she can reprint a duplicate by heading to the DEEP web portal and logging back into their account. In most cases, drivers can contact the vendor of the course to receive a duplicate as well.

Do boating licenses expire in Connecticut? Technically speaking, boat operators do not get licensed in Connecticut but are instead required to earn education certificates. As such, boat operators do not need to worry about an expiration or renewal date for their permit.

Connecticut Boat Registration Basics

Boat registration is required by all motorized water vessels being used in state waters. The CT Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues boat title and registration documents to owners of water vessels who submit a complete application request. Complete applications must include proof of ownership for the water vessel, such as a transferred title or a Bill of Sale. It is not necessary to be a Connecticut resident to register a water vessel in the state.

Upon successful registration, the DMV will provide boat registration stickers to the owner which must be placed in the correct position on the water vessel. Any boat being used for more than 60 days in Connecticut waterways should be registered with the CT DMV. Failing to register a water vessel or renew a water vessel’s registration on a regular basis will result in fines and penalties for the water vessel owner.

Connecticut Boating Rules and Regulations

All drivers are required to adhere to state boating regulations at all times when operating a water vessel in Connecticut waterways. Many of these regulations concern boat requirements meant to protect boaters in the case of an emergency, such as the state’s Personal Flotation Device (PFD) policies.

CT boating laws are also intended to protect the state’s natural resources from overuse and abuse by unknowledgeable residents. Some important CT boating rules that all drivers should be aware of before operating a water vessel in the state include:

  • All water vessels must have at least one wearable, Type I, II, III or V life jacket (PFD) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved life jacket on board for every person on the boat at all times.
  • All life jackets must fit appropriately according to the age, weight and activity of expected occupants and be in proper, usable condition.
  • All water vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have at least one throwable USCG-approved personal flotation device.
  • Passengers on all water vessels who are 13 years of age or younger must wear an USCG-approved life jacket securely fastened at all times when a water vessel is in motion.
  • All boat passengers of any age aboard any type of personal watercraft (PWC) or being towed behind the boat must wear a life jacket at all times.
  • All motorized water vessels must have a suitable sound-producing system on board to signal for help in the case of an emergency.
  • All motorized water vessels must have at least one Type B fire extinguisher on board (or more depending on the size of the ship).
  • Boating under the influence of drugs and alcohol is illegal in Connecticut and can result in criminal charges against any driver charged with driving while intoxicated.

Connecticut Boating License Fees

Where to get a boating license depends on where the boat operator lives in Connecticut. There is a standard $50 boat card fee across locations for the basic course. Drivers who would like to enroll in the advanced DEEP equivalency course can expect to pay an examination fee of $75.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.