Mandatory Boater Education

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Boater Education Card Example
Many recreational boaters in Washington are required to complete an approved boating education course and carry a Washington State Boater Education Card.

National and statewide boating accident statistics tell us that educated boaters are safer. Whether you go cruising, sailing, kayaking, fishing, or do yoga on a stand-up paddle board, you need to know the basics of boating safety.

The Washington State Boater Education Card is valid for your lifetime! It is also valid in Canada and Oregon. We encourage you to take an education course even if you're not required to carry a card.
  1. Who Needs It
  2. How to Get It
  3. How to Replace It

 If you fit the following criteria, you are
 required to have a Boater Education Card.
  • You plan on operating a vessel over 15 horsepower.
  • You were born after January 1, 1955.
  • You are 12 years of age or older. Youth under 12 years old are not allowed to operate a motor boat. 
If you fit any of the following criteria, you are exempt.
  • You were born before January 1, 1955.
  • You are operating a commercial vessel (and are licensed to do so).
  • You have a current Coast Guard Boat Operator License. 
  • You are renting a boat and have completed a watercraft safety checklist.
If you fit any of the following criteria, you have a 60-day exemption period.
  • You are an out-of-state or foreign visitor that is boating for less than 60 days.
  • You hold a valid boater education card from another state. 
  • You have recently purchased a new boat and have valid documentation showing purchase date.
Man driving a powerboat with a woman sitting close next to him and three kids sitting in the back.