A New Jersey boating license must be obtained by residents who wish to operate a vessel on non-tidal waters in the state. In addition, an NJ boat safety certificate must be obtained by motorists who want to operate power vessels on state waters. In general, these forms of certification can only be obtained after the completion of a boaters safety course that is approved by the New Jersey State Police department.

In order to be completely prepared, it is crucial to understand how to get a boating license before you begin this process. Moreover, it is important to be mindful that there is specific age and vessel requirements for both the license and the safety certificate. If you are interested in learning more about these types of credentials in NJ, read the sections below.

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

A New Jersey boating safety certificate is a requirement for residents 13 years of age or older who wish to operate a vessel on bodies of waters in the state, regardless of whether or not they are tidal. Generally, this certificate is obtained by completing a safety course, and is also the first step in obtaining a boating license endorsement.

The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) in NJ issues personal watercraft/boat license endorsements that are attached to state-issued drivers licenses or ID cards of residents who are 16 years of age or older. This is a requirement for anyone who wishes to operate a powered vessel on fresh, non-tidal waters, such as lakes, creeks or rivers. Furthermore, this type of boat certification is only required for motor-powered vessels. Conversely, non-powered vessels do not require a license.

Additionally, there are age and operator restrictions that you must be aware of when obtaining a boating license in New Jersey. These requirements include the following:

  • Motorists who are younger than 13 years of age may not operate a motorized vessel.
  • Residents younger than 16 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft (PWC).
  • Motorists between 13 and 15 years of age may operate a vessel powered by an electric motor or vessels that are 12 feet or longer and powered by a motor less than 10 horsepower. However, they may only do so if they obtain a certificate of boat safety.
  • Residents who are 16 years of age or older may operate a motorized vessel if they have obtained a certificate of boat safety.

New Jersey Boat License Requirements

The minimum boating license age in New Jersey for applicants to obtain a safety certificate is 13 years of age. Thus, all motorists who are 13 years of age or older must obtain the certificate in order to operate a motorized vessel on bodies of waters in the state.

On the other hand, the age requirements are different for applicants to obtain a license endorsement. To get an initial motorboat or jet ski license endorsement, residents must be at least 16 years of age.

Note: The only boat license requirements that must be met in order to get a certificate or license is the completion of an approved safety course and the submission of a payment method for the applicable fees.

Getting a Boat License in New Jersey

The process of getting a boat safety certificate is generally simple. First, you must enroll in an approved boat program and pass the required boater exam. Then, you will be responsible for paying any required fees. Afterward, you will be issued the safety certificate.

If you are 16 years of age or older and wish to get the boating license endorsement added to your current state-issued driving or identification credential, you must visit a motor vehicle agency and provide the following:

  • New Jersey boating safety course certificate
  • Documents for proof of identification
  • Payment for the applicable fee

New Jersey Boater Safety Courses

There are several New Jersey boating school options that you may choose from. To find a course approved by the State Police (NJSP) in your area, you may reach out to local marinas or boating supply stores.

In general, you can either take a class offered in person or complete an online boaters safety course. Overall, any course that is approved by the NJSP can be completed in order to obtain a safety certificate.

Note: If you opt to complete an online course, you must pass a proctored exam in person after you finish the online portion. Thus, make sure that the online course provider you opt for has a testing location within driving distance from you before you begin the course.

Renewing and Replacing a New Jersey Boating License

If you are wondering, “Do boating licenses expire in New Jersey?” Be mindful that because these credentials are issued as endorsements, they are subject to the expiration date displayed on the driver’s license or ID card they are attached to.

Therefore, when you renew your drivers license or ID card, you must also renew the boating license endorsement. To do so, you must visit a Motor Vehicle Commission office in person and do the following:

  1. Present your boating safety course certificate
  2. Pay the applicable boat endorsement fee

On the other hand, the boating safety certificate in NJ does not have an expiration date and does not need to be renewed. However, if you lose your certificate, you will be required to obtain a replacement credential by contacting the Marine Services Bureau and providing the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Current address
  • Scanned copy of your drivers license
  • Contact information (phone number with area code and email address)
  • Reason for request of replacement
  • Certificate number (if known)

New Jersey Boat Registration Basics

A New Jersey boat registration is a requirement for all vessels on state waterways. However, there are a few exceptions regarding the boats that must be registered. Overall, all boats must be registered, except for:

  • Those being operated in NJ for less than 180 consecutive days
  • Lifeboats
  • Foreign vessels
  • U.S. public vessels
  • Non-motorized vessels used on private property
  • Racing vessels with a New Jersey State Marine Police permit
  • Non-motorized inflatable devices, surfboards, racing shells, dinghies, canoes and kayaks
  • Non-motorized vessels that are less than 12 feet in length
  • Tender/dinghy used only for direct transportation between a vessel and shore

To complete the DMV boat registration, you must visit a motor vehicle agency and provide any necessary information. These details include submitting the boat title, a completed application form and proper identification. Moreover, paying a registration fee will be required. Once you have successfully completed the registration process, you will be allowed to operate your vessel on New Jersey bodies of water.

New Jersey Boating Rules and Regulations

New Jersey has strict boating regulations that must be followed in order for motorists to stay safe and avoid facing any major consequences. A few of these navigation boating rules include:

  • Every resident operating a vessel must maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing.
  • All vessels must navigate bodies of water at a safe speed in order for motorists to be able to take proper and effective action and avoid collisions.
  • Motorists aboard a vessel must use all means available to determine if a risk of collision exists and avoid these accidents.
  • Whenever two power-driven vessels meet, each must alter its course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of one another. This practice will generally avoid collisions.

Furthermore, there are also specific boating laws that require all vessels to contain the necessary equipment. These rules state that all vessels must have the following:

  • A muffling device
  • Coast Guard approved equipment
  • Flame arresters
  • Sound signaling appliances (for vessels less than 20 meters long)
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Marine sanitation devices
  • Visual distress signals

New Jersey Boating License Fees

The cost of getting a boater education card/certificate varies depending on the course that you choose. Therefore, contact the course provider to inquire about their applicable fees.

To get a boating license endorsement added to your drivers license or ID card, you must visit the MVC in person and pay for the $18 license fee.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.