Since May 1st 2014 a new law became effective for New York boaters. This law requires all individuals born on or after 5/1/96 to successfully complete an approved course in boater education in order to operate a motorboat. Approved courses are offered by NYS Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadrons. New York requires a Boater Education Card for boaters, and not a boating license. The regulatory authority for the card is New York State Parks.

If you are an individual who is under 10 years old, you will not be allowed to take a course. There are certain exceptions to this law for visitors to New York, people who want to rent a boat and people who buy a new boat for the first time.

The boating laws of the state require that the person operating a boat should not be under the influence of intoxicants. The legal limit of the blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% and if arrested for a higher BAC, harsh penalties may be imposed on the operator, based on the severity of the offense as well as the previous number of such convictions.


The following persons are exempt from the above requirements:

  • Boat operators possessing a valid boaters’ license issued in their state of residence and approved by NASBLA. Boaters must have this certificate onboard at all times.


To obtain the Boater Education Certificate, you must complete a boater education course approved by the New York State Parks.

In an approved course, students learn how to operate and maintain their boats, the legal requirements for boating, and what to do in emergencies. This ensures that boating remains a safe and fun experience.

There are various approved ways you can complete the course and obtain the certificate:

  1. The classroom options are offered by New York State Parks, the U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary and the US Power Squadron.
    • The course duration is a minimum of eight hours.
    • The courses taught by the State Parks are usually free. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary may charge a fee for materials.
    • To pass the course, you must get 76% of the answers right on the exam administered at the end of the course.
  2. The Boater Education Card is either handed out at the end of class, or mailed to you within 45 days.
  3. Only the card issued after a classroom course is recognized in most other states, and by many insurance companies for insurance discounts.
  4. An approved online option offered by Boat U.S. Foundation.
  5. The courses may take up to 8 hours to complete; some options require you to complete the course in one sitting.
  6. Course materials are free. However, there may be a fee for exams or the card: check providers’ websites for details.
  7. A temporary card may be printed after passing the online exam; the permanent card will be mailed to you.


The card is permanent. There is no need to renew it.


To replace a card, complete the application form and send it to NYS Parks, Marine Services Bureau, Albany, NY 12238 along with a money order for $10.


  • While liability insurance is not mandatory for boating in New York, it is a good idea to have liability insurance to tide over troubles if you or someone operating your boat is involved in a boating accident.
  • Read about the course material for the Boater Education Course.
  • See how to register your boat in New York.
  • Check the contact information of New York State Parks.
Last updated on Friday, November 9 2018.

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