Obtaining a New Mexico boating license is not a requirement in the state. However, you do need to obtain a boater education card by enrolling in and completing a safety course if you were born on or after January 1, 1989. This education card allows you to legally operate a motorboat as long as you have the card with you on-board the vessel during its operation. This credential is very important as it signifies that you have completed a boating education course and that you have the knowledge necessary to safely operate a vessel in New Mexico.

Although getting a boating certificate is only a requirement for those born after January 1989, everyone is encouraged to take a boating education course regardless of their date of birth. It is important to note that there are a few different options for courses in the state, but each course teaches boaters about boating laws and basic operation skills. To learn more about getting your boating credentials, read the sections below.

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

As a general rule, you do not need a boat license to operate a vessel in the State of New Mexico. In its place, you need to obtain a boater safety card if you were born on or after January 1, 1989 and you intend to operate a motorboat. If you were born before that date, you are not legally required to get the card in order to operate a vessel on the waters in New Mexico.

New Mexico Boat License Requirements

One of the most important boating license requirements to consider is the age that operators are allowed to operate a boat in New Mexico. The boating license age that is required for a resident to operate a boat without supervision is 13 years of age.

Motorists who are younger than 13 years of age must have adult supervision onboard and they must be carrying their education card. This is similar to how young drivers with a learner’s permit must have a licensed driver supervise them as they learn to drive.

Note: There are no age requirements for taking an NM boating safety course. Anyone capable of comprehending the information can enroll and obtain a certificate of completion.

Getting a Boat License in New Mexico

Boating without a license, or a boating card, is not allowed in New Mexico if you were born after January 1, 1989. Therefore, it is important that you understand how to obtain your NM boat card so that you do not face any consequences. The steps for obtaining this credential are as follows:

  1. Enroll in a state-certified boating course
  2. Successfully pass the course and the exam
  3. Pay the applicable licensing fees
  4. Receive your card

New Mexico Boater Safety Courses

In New Mexico, there are two different boating class options that you can choose from. Ultimately, you must decide whether you wish to take an online boating course or an in-classroom course. The New Mexico State Parks Division offers a ranger-led 8-hour course that is available in a classroom setting. Or, you have the option of choosing between one of four different state-approved online classes.

Regardless of the type of course you opt to participate in, the program will provide you with information that is designed to help you pass a New Mexico state boater exam. The information that you will be taught includes understanding necessary boating equipment, emergency situations, boating laws, navigation techniques and more.

Renewing and Replacing a New Mexico Boating License

If you are wondering, “Do boating licenses expire?” the answer is no; your boating safety card is valid for a lifetime. This is because these cards are a type of certificate rather than an official license. Therefore, unlike driver’s licenses in New Mexico, safety cards do not need to be renewed.

Nevertheless, if you find that you have lost or severely damaged your education card, you will need to have it replaced. To request a replacement card, you must contact the program that issued the card to you and follow the instructions that they provide on getting a duplicate.

New Mexico Boat Registration Basics

You complete an NM boat registration for your boat so that you have a valid New Mexico vessel registration number and registration decals. All motorized and sail-powered vessels 10 feet long or longer require a boat title, and all motorized vessels of any length must be registered.

To get your boat registration stickers, you must visit the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). You must complete an application form and provide payment for the registration fee. This fee varies depending on the length of your vessel. Also, keep in mind that your registration is valid for three years and must be renewed once that three-year period is over.

New Mexico Boating Rules and Regulations

When operating a boat in New Mexico, be aware of the boating regulations that you must follow. The purpose of these regulations is to keep all motorists safe. A few of the boating laws that you must follow include:

  • Proof of boater education completion must be carried by all operators born on or after January 1, 1989.
  • Everyone in canoes, kayaks or rafts must wear a personal flotation device at all times.
  • All children 12 years of age and younger must wear a personal flotation device while the vessel is underway.
  • Operating a boat while under the influence is strictly prohibited and carries the same, if not more, penalties than a standard DUI.
  • Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited.
  • Vessels must carry the following items while operating:
    • One life jacket for each person on board
    • One U.S. Coast Guard-approved throwable device
    • An oar/paddle
    • A bailing bucket and stout rope at least one boat length
    • A whistle/horn
    • A fire extinguisher
    • Navigation lights if operating at night

New Mexico Boating License Fees

The fees that you must pay in order to get your boat safety certificate vary depending on the educational course that you participate in. There is no fee for taking the ranger-led course offered by the New Mexico State Parks Division.

Upon successful completion, you will receive your card free of charge as well. However, if you opt to take an online course, you will typically be expected to pay $30.00 to complete the course and receive your card.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.