A Maryland boating license is not issued for operating a motorboat or watercraft on public waterways. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) mandates some residents to enroll in a boaters safety course and obtain a certificate of completion that they will need to legally operate their boats. Therefore, prior to operating a water vessel, MD residents need to learn which requirements apply to their specific situation in order to know what they are supposed to do.

The MD DNR also has determined certain boating rules and regulations that boaters must obey, if they want to avoid future inconveniences on waterways within the state. To discover more information about how and when to get a license or a certification to operate a boat, continue reading the sections below.

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

The Maryland DNR does not require residents to obtain a boating license for operating a motorboat or watercraft. However, future boaters are recommended to take a boating course in order to improve their safe operating techniques and to learn the state’s laws and rules regarding operating a boat.

Individuals who are born on or after July 1st, 1972 are required to obtain a certificate and carry it with them on board when operating a motorized boat on MD waterways. The certification must be obtained through a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)-approved education course.

Maryland Boat License Requirements

The Maryland DNR has determined certain requirements that residents must satisfy if they want to operate a watercraft. According to a Maryland regulation, boaters must obtain a boat certification from a NASBLA-approved course provider when they are born on or after July 1st, 1972. The MD DNR has more information about boat requirements and encourages residents to contact them by phone or to visit their webpage.

The minimum boating license age limit for operators of personal watercraft is 16. Individuals who are at least 16 years of age must possess a certificate in order to operate their personal watercraft. Boaters who have a personal watercraft must operate it at six knots or less when within 100 feet of another vessel, people, or other objects in the water.

Getting a Boat License in Maryland

Since the MD DNR does not issue boating licenses, residents need to get a certification from a course provider of their choosing. Boaters must first enroll in a boating school and complete the program successfully in order to obtain a certificate of completion. The DNR offers online and classroom courses, as well as the option to take and pass a boating equivalency exam.

Maryland Boater Safety Courses

MD residents may receive a Maryland boat safety certificate at the end of a corresponding safety course that teaches them safe operating techniques and improves their knowledge about boats and every topic connected with water vessels. Future boaters may utilize three different ways for getting a boat certification, which are the following:

  • Classroom course
  • Online course
  • Boating equivalency exam

The classroom basic boating course in Maryland has a duration of eight hours and is taught by trained instructors. Students are required to attend all boating classes and to get a score of 80 percent on the final exam in order to get a certificate. Some classroom course providers may require minor students under a certain age to participate in the course along with an adult present.

The online boaters safety course is available to individuals who are unable to attend the classroom lessons and who want to obtain a certificate at their convenience. Students will study on their own, without the help of a trained instructor and will have to pass an online exam in the end of the course. There are three online course providers out of which residents can choose. However, after completing the online boating course, Maryland will verify the completion and whether the certificate has the initials NASBLA printed on it.

When individuals are prevented from attending the eight-hour boaters safety course, the Maryland Natural Resources Police Safety Education Section allows them to take a boating equivalency examination. Students will have to get a copy of the Maryland Boat textbook and learn the material on their own. When they are prepared for the boating equivalency examination, they need to schedule an appointment to take the exam.

Students will have to answer 65 multiple choice questions based on information taken from the textbook. They must also have a score of 80 percent in order to pass the examination. Failing to pass the exam two consecutive times will require students to enroll in a classroom course.

Renewing and Replacing a Maryland Boating License

The MD DNR does not issue boating licenses, therefore boaters who are wondering “Do boating licenses expire” need not to worry. Holders of a certificate may not be required to renew their cards for operating a boat or watercraft.

However, when individuals lose their cards, they will have to apply for a replacement. Duplicate certificates are issued only by the course provider through which you had obtained the certificate in the first place.

Maryland Boat Registration Basics

Boat owners must obtain the necessary Maryland DMV boat registration documentation prior to operating a motorboat or watercraft, in order to avoid future inconveniences. Both commercial and recreational vessels must be registered if they are equipped with either a primary or auxiliary mechanical propulsion, or if they have been used in Maryland most in a calendar year.

The boat registration documentation may vary based on whether the vessel is new, used, documented, or purchased on the Internet. However, all documents must identify the vessel by containing its hull identification number, assigned boat number and USCG documentation number.

Maryland Boating Rules and Regulations

According to the MD boating laws, individuals who are born on or after July 1st, 1972 will have to possess a boating education certificate of completion in order to operate vessels. Boating without a license or certificate may result in a fine of $25 for the first offense and fine of $500 for each consecutive offense.

From October 1st, 2010, the Maryland boating rules require individuals who are younger than 16 years of age and who want to operate a motorized vessel of 11 feet in length or more without a boat safety certificate to operate the vessel only when supervised. The supervised person must be at least 18 years of age and to possess a valid certificate, or to be born before July 1st, 1972.

When boaters younger than 16 years of age operate a motorized vessel that is less than 11 feet in length, they can be accompanied and supervised by a person of any age who possesses a valid certificate.

Maryland Boating License Fees

Boaters who have applied for a boat certification in Maryland may wonder whether they need to pay any fees for the certificate of completion. In most cases, they are not mandated to submit a payment for a boat card.

However, some course providers may require payment, depending on their specific requirements. Therefore, prior to making a payment, boaters are encouraged to contact their course provider and learn whether they need to pay a fee or not.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.