You do not need to get a boating license in Nebraska, but you do need to get a certificate. This boat safety certificate is a requirement for anyone born after December 31, 1985. To get this certificate, you must complete a boater’s safety course and pass the required examination. The certificate is a requirement for anyone born after that date to be able to legally operate a vessel on the waters in Nebraska.

If you were born on or before December 31, 1985, you do not need to get any boat certification in order to legally operate a vessel. However, even if you are not required to complete the safety course, it is still recommended that you do so in order to learn more about Nebraska boating laws and safe practices. To learn more about how to get a certificate to operate a boat and the rules and regulations in Nebraska, continue reading the sections below.

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

While Nebraska does not require a boaters license in order to operate a boat, boat operators do need to complete a boating course and get a certificate of completion instead. Keep in mind, however, that the certificate is only required for anyone born after December 31, 1985.

The certificate is not legally necessary for anyone born on or before that date. Moreover, non-residents must have completed a NASLBA-approved course in their respective state before being able to legally operate a motorboat in Nebraska.

Nebraska has strict age requirements that must be abided by as well. These requirements include that only those who are 14 years of age or older can legally operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska. No one younger than 14 years of age can operate motorboats of any class at any time.

Nebraska Boat License Requirements

The minimum boating license age required in order to enroll in a course and get a certificate in Nebraska is 14 years of age. Completing the course is a boat license requirement for anyone 14 years of age or older and anyone born after December 31, 1985 who wish to operate a vessel on Nebraska waters.

However, anyone 14 or older can participate in a safety course, even if they are not required to. In fact, it is recommended that everyone interested in operating a boat takes a course to learn more about boat safety and laws.

Getting a Boat License in Nebraska

In order to get your certificate, you must follow a few simple steps. These steps include the following:

  1. Enroll in a NASBLA-approved boating class.
  2. Complete the course by passing the exam.
  3. Pay any applicable fees.
  4. Receive your education card or course completion certificate.

Nebraska Boater Safety Courses

There are three different NE boating education options that you can choose from. The classes are offered in the following formats:

  • In-person classroom session: This option is a six-hour classroom session taught by certified volunteers and agency staff. Students must take and pass a proctored boater exam to complete the class.
  • Self-taught home study course: You may download and review the course study materials at your home. Then, after studying, you must register for a test-out session in order to take a proctored exam.
  • Online course: You may also enroll in an online course where you can study the materials at your own pace before taking the exam.

Each course provides you with information about safe boating practices in Nebraska in order to help prepare you for the boaters safety test, which you must pass with a score of 75 percent or higher regardless of the course option you choose. A certificate of completion will be provided to you as long as you pass the exam.

Renewing and Replacing a Nebraska Boating License

Education certificates given in Nebraska do not have an expiration date. This is because they are not actual licenses. They are cards or certificates that prove you completed the necessary educational requirements.

Although you will never need to renew your certificate, you will need to obtain a replacement certificate if yours was lost or destroyed. If you received a plastic, wallet-size boater education card from the Nebraska Game and Parks division, you can receive a replacement within 10 to 15 business days by calling their office at 402-471-0641 and providing the following information:

  • Your name
  • Mailing address
  • Date of birth

If your card or certificate was issued by an organization other than the Nebraska Game and Parks division, you must contact that organization directly to learn how to get a duplicate.

Nebraska Boat Registration Basics

Boat registration must be completed on all vessels powered by any mechanical device that is used to propel the vessel over public or private waters in Nebraska, including the Missouri river and Lewis and Clark Lake. Certain vessels do not need to be registered, including motorboats registered in another state and kept in Nebraska for less than 60 days, and vessels documented by the U.S. Coast Guard.

To get Nebraska boat registration stickers, you must visit the county treasurer in your county of residence and provide all requested documentation and pay the applicable fees. Your registration will last for a period of three years and must be renewed after it expires.

Nebraska Boating Rules and Regulations

Nebraska has various boating regulations that you must follow. These boating laws include specifications regarding the equipment that you must have on board the boat and the various boating maneuvers that are prohibited. As a few examples, Nebraska law prohibits:

  • Operating a vessel that is not equipped with:
    • Life jackets/flotation devices.
    • A fire extinguisher. If the motorboat has an enclosed fuel tank, enclosed space or enclosed engine.
    • A bailing bucket.
    • Whistles or bells.
    • A muffler.
    • A backfire flame arrestor.
    • Proper ventilation.
  • Exceeding the speeds posted on the water or the speeds necessary for certain prevailing conditions.
  • Jumping the wake with a motorized vessel within 50 yards of another vessel.
  • Operating a motorboat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater, or under the influence of any other substances.
  • Operating in restricted areas.

Nebraska Boating License Fees

The cost of getting your certificate depends on the cost of the boating education course you participate in. The state of Nebraska offers multiple different options for completing your education, so it is important to contact each program to determine what fees, if any, are necessary and when they must be paid.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.