A New Hampshire boating license or boating certificate is a requirement for anyone 16 years of age or older who operates a motorboat over 25 horsepower on New Hampshire waters. This boat safety certificate must be obtained by completing an approved boating course and passing the New Hampshire boater exam. Although the course is a requirement for anyone wishing to receive a certificate, the courses are also available to anyone interested in learning more about boating safety and skills.

There are boating laws in New Hampshire that must be followed at all times, and among those laws are restrictions about the minimum age of boat operators and the requirements for registering watercraft. It is crucial to be familiar with those laws in order to stay safe and avoid legal consequences. To learn more about getting a boat license or certificate, continue reading the information included below.

Do you need a license to drive a boat in New Hampshire?

The State of New Hampshire has a mandatory boating education law that states that anyone 16 years of age or older who operates a motorboat over 25 horsepower on New Hampshire waters must have a boating education certificate. Although this is not technically a license, it is still a very important card that must be held at all times when operating a vessel.

New Hampshire accepts a variety of boating certificates and licenses. The types of credentials that are accepted include:

  • A boating certificate issued by the U.S. Power Squadron.
  • A boating certificate issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • A boating certificate issued by another State agency that is NASBLA-approved.
  • An unexpired commercial boating license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • An unexpired commercial boating license issued by the State of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Boat License Requirements

The minimum NH boating license age required in order to obtain the certificate is 16 years old. However, applicants may enroll in and complete a safety course at the age of 15, although the certificate will not be issued until the applicant turns 16 years old.

Additionally, New Hampshire has strict age requirements for when a boat can be operated as well. These requirements state that:

  • No one younger than 16 years of age shall operate a motorized vessel with more than 25 horsepower on the public waters of the state unless accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older who holds a valid safe boater education certificate.
  • No one younger than 16 years of age shall operate a commercial vessel on the public waters of the state.

The boat license requirements that must be met in order to get the certificate simply include enrolling in a course, passing the exam and paying any applicable fees. Once those steps have been completed, a certificate will be awarded.

Getting a Boat License in New Hampshire

Operators of watercraft must apply for a boating education card by following a few important steps. These steps include:

  1. Enroll in an approved boating safety course.
  2. Study the boating information provided.
  3. Pass the boat license test.
  4. Pay any applicable fees.

After the steps mentioned above have been successfully completed, a certificate card will be provided to the student. The exact method for receiving the permanent card will vary depending on the course taken, although the Boating Education Classroom Course and most online options will automatically mail the certificate to the student at the address provided during registration.

Also, most programs will provide students with a temporary certificate that can be used until the official certificate arrives. For example, the New Hampshire Classroom Course provides students with a temporary card that is valid for 45 days.

New Hampshire Boater Safety Courses

There are a few different types of boat license course options that can choose from in order to get your certificate in New Hampshire. These program options include:

  • New Hampshire Classroom Course: This in-person, instructor-led class is offered through the New Hampshire Marine Patrol. You can select the date and time in which you would like to participate in the class. The course is approximately 7 and a half hours long, with the exam provided during the last hour of class time.
  • Online Course: Taking an online course allows you to complete the requirements at your own pace. After completing your course online, you must register for and pass a proctored examination.

New Hampshire also accepts certificates from other states and programs as well, as long as they are approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Therefore, you may enroll in a course provided by the U.S. Power Squadron, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or another NASBLA-approved State agency.

Regardless of which course you enroll in, upon successful completion of the boaters safety test you will be awarded a valid certificate. The information you learn in any of the courses is designed to prepare you for the exam, and typically includes topics such as boating safety equipment, boat navigation, handling emergency situations and laws and rules.

Note: You can test out of completing a safety course if you pass the boating exam with a score of 80 percent or higher. In order to participate in the testing out option, you must be at least 15 years of age, and once you pass the test you will receive your certificate once you turn 16. If you are 16 years of age or older when you pass the exam you will receive a temporary certificate immediately and your permanent card will be mailed to your address on file.

Renewing and Replacing a New Hampshire Boating License

If you are wondering, “Do boating licenses expire?” the answer to that question is that the safety certificates provided by education programs in New Hampshire do not have an expiration date.

However, if your certificate was lost or destroyed, you must request a replacement. Do not operate any vessels over 25 horsepower on New Hampshire state waters if you do not have your certificate on-hand.

The exact steps for getting a replacement vary depending on the program, so you must contact the agency that issued you your card in order to obtain a duplicate.

New Hampshire Boat Registration Basics

All motorized vessels of any size and all sailboats and sailboards 12 fees or longer must have boat registration stickers before they can be operated in New Hampshire waters. You can complete the registration process at a Department of Motor Vehicles office or most marinas, sports shops and town halls. However, make sure to call the location beforehand to ensure that boat registrations can be completed there.

To complete the registration, you must show proof of ownership, such as a bill of sale document, and a photo ID. You will then be required to pay any applicable registration fees. The exact fees will vary based on the length of the watercraft. Ensure that you have all necessary documents on-hand and adequate payment for the fee before you start the registration process.

New Hampshire Boating Rules and Regulations

There many strict boating laws that everyone must abide by in order to stay safe and avoid serious consequences. These rules include a minimum age for boat operation, requirements for necessary boating equipment and more. As a few examples, New Hampshire boating regulations include that:

  • No child 12 years of age or under can operate or be transported on a vessel upon the public waters of the state without a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.
  • No one younger than 16 years of age shall operate a motorized vessel with more than 25 horsepower on the public waters of the state unless accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older who holds a valid education certificate.
  • No one can operate a powerboat upon any state waters in a negligent or careless way or so that the lives and safety of the public are endangered.
  • No one can operate or sell any marine engines that are capable of being operated in a manner which exceeds the noise levels specified for that type of vessel.

In addition to the boating rules listed above, there are many more laws that must be abided by when operating watercraft in New Hampshire. To learn more about those rules and laws, you can enroll in a safety course.

New Hampshire Boating License Fees

The cost of getting your boat education card varies depending on the program you enroll in. You may be able to enroll in a course that is provided for at low-cost or that is free of charge. However, most classes charge approximately $40 to $45 total. To discover what you must pay, contact the program directly to inquire about their fees.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.