In most cases, boat owners need to obtain a boating license in order to operate legally their vessels or boats on water. When wondering how to get a boating license in Hawaii, residents may inquire more information from the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Since 2014, operators of motorized vessels have to show a certification as proof of a completed boating course in order to be allowed to operate the boat.

Providing a certificate of completion for a boaters safety course is a requirement that operators of boats or water vessels must complete in addition to other mandatory criteria. Boating without a license is possible when the appropriate certificate is submitted as proof of completion of the corresponding safety course. For more information about how and where to get a boating license in Hawaii, continue reading the sections below.

Do you need a license to operate a boat in Hawaii?

A Hawaii boating license is neither needed nor issued in any of the four different Hawaiian counties. Instead, a boat certification is needed for operating a power-driven vessel that is propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower, or a vessel propelled by wind or sail which has an auxiliary engine.

The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) requires operators of boats or vessels to always carry a boating course certificate of completion with them when they want to legally operate certain boats. This certificate is an alternate document that individuals may use in a case when the state does not issue standard boat licenses.

Completing state-approved boating classes or a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)-approved course will enable boaters to operate a boat or water vessel. However, if the operators are younger than 16 years of age, their certificates will not be enough for operating a boat and therefore they will have to be supervised by a person who is at least 21 years of age and who holds the mandatory certificate.

Hawaii Boat License Requirements

To obtain a boating license in Hawaii, residents of the four different counties will have to first satisfy certain boat license requirements. First-time applicants who are wondering “How to get a boating license in HI?” need to know that the basic requirement that they have to satisfy is to get a boating certificate instead of a license.

The education requirement for boating in HI is similar to the licensing procedure that individuals must perform in order to operate motor vehicles on public roads. Therefore, applicants who successfully complete a NASBLA or a state-approved boating school may operate a vessel or boat.

Furthermore, when applying for a certificate, applicants do not have a strict boating license age requirement that they must satisfy in order to operate a boat or water vessel. The rules for boaters younger than 16 years of age will differ from the rules for those older than 16 years of age.

Note: Applicants who are Windward Community College (WCC) certified and operators of thrill crafts may be exempt from the education requirement or additional training.

Getting a Boat License in Hawaii

Since the HI DOBOR does not issue a boating license to boaters, they are required to obtain a boating certificate from an appropriate safety course. A boaters safety course may be taken either at a state-approved course provider, or through the NASBLA. Boaters are highly encouraged to take one of the offered safety courses, if they want to operate their boats or water vessels legally. Completing the boating course will provide individuals with the needed certificates for operating a boat or vessel.

Furthermore, motorists who are younger than 16 years of age will have to obtain their personal certificates. However, that will not be enough for them to operate boats or water vessels. Minor boaters who have obtained the corresponding certificate will be allowed to operate their boat or vessel only when supervised by a certificate holder who is 21 years of age or older.

Hawaii Boater Safety Courses

A certificate of completion of a Hawaii boating course will be granted to each individual who takes the course needed for operation of a vessel. Boaters are required by state law to complete either a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) or a state-approved course.

Around 85 percent of both courses must contain content and presentation standards as dictated by NASBLA. However, the content for the remaining 15 percent is set by the state, because it has own registration rules and regulations, prohibitions, requirements and exemptions.

The HI DOBOR offers several methods for taking a boaters safety course: internet-based, home study and classroom. Regardless of the course taken, boaters will have to get a course approval stamp in order to operate a boat or vessel. In addition to credentials with the stamp, boaters may also request a state-issued and laminated Boater Safety Education Card (BSEC).

Boaters who have taken a NASBLA-approved boating course in another state with mandatory education requirements may be able to cite reciprocity and request a laminated and state-approved BSEC as proof of compliance by sending a copy of the credentials to the Honolulu office.

Note: Boaters may enroll in a Windward Community College (WCC) thrill craft certification class in order to operate a thrill craft. However, boaters who are WCC certified may not be allowed to operate a boat, depending on the NASBLA approval of the boating course.

Renewing and Replacing a Hawaii Boating License

If boaters wonder “Do boating licenses expire in Hawaii?”, they need to know that the expiration date of the Boater Safety Education Card (BSEC) is the same as the MMC’s date of expiry. Therefore, when renewing the MMC, boaters may have to renew the BSEC as well.

However, to learn more details about renewing boat certification cards, individuals are recommended to inquire about information from the DOBOR. Furthermore, to replace HI boating license certificates in a case when the certificate got lost or it was not received, boaters need to contact the course provider and ask for technical support.

Hawaii Boat Registration Basics

A boat registration in Hawaii is a procedure that individuals must complete for undocumented vessels through the HI Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). However, boaters must know that not all vessels require a registration. This department issues a different number for each vessel, and that number is used for search and rescue, safety control and for theft prevention.

Boat owners and operators must make sure that they place boat registration stickers with the registration numbers on each side of the hull, making sure that the numbers are properly displayed. When getting a DMV boat registration, boaters must provide an appropriate proof of ownership in order to register or transfer the vessel.

Hawaii Boating Rules and Regulations

The Hawaii boating regulations and rules require boaters to carry a safety boater course certificate of completion while operating a boat or vessel, in order to provide it as proof if stopped by a law enforcement official. Failure to provide a boat certification to the police officer is a violation to this boating rule.

In such situations, the boater will have to submit evidence of exemption to a court of law. To inquire more information about the HI boating rules and regulations for operating a boat with a certificate instead of a standard license, contact the HI DOBOR.

Hawaii Boating License Fees

The final step of the Hawaii boaters safety course is to print out the certificate of completion. Boaters who are unable to print their certificates will be required to pay a $20 fee for a copy of the certificate to be sent to their addresses. To discover more information about the cost of a boat certification in HI, contact the DOBOR.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.