A boating license is required by minors and adults under a certain age by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD) to operate water vessels of any type in state waterways. Boaters can choose how to get a boating license either by enrolling in an online or an in-person education program that is up to state standards. The primary requirements to be eligible for a license to boat in Vermont involve the age of the driver and the type of vessel he or she would like to operate.

Boaters in Vermont can sign up for an online boating license or an in-person course to meet the state’s eligibility requirements to drive a boat. A list of state-approved boat certification programs taught both online and in-person is offered by the VFWD to help interested boaters find an applicable course near them. Replacing a lost or destroyed education card can be done by contacting the organization which provided the course. Read on to learn the most important details about legally operating a boat in Vermont.

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

Getting a boat license is not technically a requirement for any boat operator in Vermont. Instead, the VFWD offers a boat safety certificate for the completion of an approved education program. Unlike licenses, certificates of completion do not expire and can be used to legally operate a water vessel continuously.

Not all boaters are required to take this course and receive the certification, but those who are required must complete the course before operating any water vessel independently. The education and certification process is similar to that of applying for a driver’s license in Vermont, as both require prior education courses in order to qualify.

Vermont Boat License Requirements

The current boating license age in Vermont is about 45 years old, but this requirement is based on a date more than an age. All adults and minors born in or after 1974 are required to pass a state-approved boaters safety course in order to operate most types of water vessels and personal watercraft anywhere on state waterways. Vermont boaters born after 1974 are exempt from the license requirement when operating most types of water vessels in the state.

Other important boat license requirements to note in Vermont are that minors under 12 years of age are not permitted to operate any water vessel above 6 horsepower at any time. Boat boaters under 16 years of age are not permitted to drive a personal watercraft.

Once earned, the driver should keep his or her boater education card on his or her person at all times to be within the law. Vermont has a reciprocity agreement with other states so that courses approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) are also accepted in lieu of a VT education certificate. Children younger than 10 years of age cannot enroll in a course or receive a completion certificate. Minors younger than 12 years of age must complete the course in-person.

Getting a Boat License in Vermont

Where to get a boating license in Vermont depends on where the driver lives in the state. In-person boating classes can be found throughout Vermont and most students are eligible to sign up for an online course to complete from the comfort of their own home. All students must be residents of Vermont in order to participate in these courses and receive a Vermont validation.

The basic application process to sign up for an approved online boaters safety course begins with looking into the couple web providers authorized to offer courses for boaters in Vermont. From these, students can begin reviewing the necessary course material to prepare for the final course exam.

Students must pay the course fee only after having passed the associated final exam qualifying them to operate a water vessel. In-person courses can be signed up for by contacting the course provider and enrolling in the next available course.

Vermont Boater Safety Courses

The typical online boating course lasts about eight hours, taught in one day in-person or over any period of time when taught online. As previously mentioned, boaters safety courses can be signed up for by simply finding the right program and attending the necessary meetings. All courses cover the basic material that is found on the state-specific boating exam that must be passed for the student to receive his or her certificate of completion.

There are a number of important topics that are covered on the VT boater exam and that must be reviewed before attempting to operate a water vessel. The Vermont test goes beyond basic technical rules for safely operating a boat and asks specific questions about driving a boat in Vermont according to state rules and regulations. Examples of topics included in the course and test are vessel basics, navigation rules, emergency responses, dealing with personal watercraft, required equipment and more.

Renewing and Replacing a Vermont Boating License

Boaters born in or after 1974 cannot go boating without a license or they will face serious legal penalties similar to operating a motor vehicle without the appropriate license. If a licensed driver loses or damages his or her boat safety certificate for a course taken online, he or she can simply head to the course provider’s website to print a duplicate certificate.

Boaters who took an in-person course or who received an official card in the mail can contact the VFWD for a duplicate card. The government of Vermont accepts certificates of completion for applicable education programs instead of licenses. These licenses do not expire and do not need renewal.

Vermont Boat Registration Basics

In Vermont, all motorized boats over 16 feet in length that were manufactured in 2004 or later need a boat registration and title from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The VT DMV accepts applications for boat title and registration requests all year long at DMV locations across the state. Registration and title documents are valid for one year from issuance. Therefore, they must be renewed on a yearly basis. The same vessel registration number will be used to identify your water vessel every year.

Once registered, the boat owner will receive boat registration stickers (which must be correctly affixed to the boat to be valid) along with a Vermont Certificate of Registration to be kept with the boat at all times. Smaller water vessels with under 10 horsepower that are used as a tender to a registered boat are seen as automatically registered at no additional cost. This vessel will have the same registration number as the larger vessel.

Vermont Boating Rules and Regulations

Boating regulations in Vermont are designed to make sure boaters, swimmers and others enjoying VT waterways are safe at all times. To meet these ends, several boat requirements dictate what equipment must always be on a water vessel to be up to code. Some important Vermont boating laws that boaters of all ages should take note of include:

  • All water vessels must have at least one wearable, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket on board for every person on the boat at all times.
  • All life jackets must fit appropriately according to the age, weight and activity of expected occupants and be in proper, usable condition.
  • All water vessels 16 feet or longer must have at least one throwable USCG-approved personal flotation device.
  • All boat passengers of any age aboard personal watercraft must always wear a life jacket.
  • Passengers on all water vessels who are 12 years of age or younger must wear an approved life jacket at all times when the boat is in motion.
  • Boat passengers who are 16 years of age or younger must wear an approved life jacket at all times when on a sailboat.
  • Vermont boating rules prohibit boaters from operating any water vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boaters found to be driving under the influence will face criminal penalties akin to driving a car while intoxicated.
  • Unnecessarily blocking the navigation of other boats on a waterway is strictly prohibited.
  • Anchoring a water vessel in a traveled portion of a waterway that may interfere with water traffic is not allowed.

Vermont Boating License Fees

Getting a boat license in Vermont does not usually cost more than $30 for the entire course. Online courses may be cheaper than classroom programs, but interested boaters should contact schools in their area for more specific information.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.