Do You Need a Boating License to Rent a Boat?

March 16, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Before you rent a boat for a family excursion or a day of fun on the water, you need to check if you need a boating license or certificate. Each state has its own laws for boating, and there isn’t an actual boating license, although some people use the terms boating license and boater education certificate interchangeably.

Is a Boat License Required for Boat Rental?

When renting a boat, many states do require that you pass a course and obtain a boater education card or a boater certificate to operate a boat. You can go this route and get your certificate to captain the boat that you are renting, or you can often rent a boat with a captain on it to operate it. If you have recently received your certification, you may not have much actual hands-on experience, and it is a good idea to have a captain so you can learn more about the hands-on safety and operation of a boat. Also, if someone else is joining you that has a certification, then they can operate a rental boat for you.

What is a Boater Certificate?

To secure your boater certificate, you can take a one-time class online, and the good news is that it doesn’t expire, so you won’t ever need to renew it or take more classes. The state must approve the course and it should also be approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). The boating course covers the basic operation of a boat, the different types of boats, how to navigate the waters, and essential knots that you need to know how to tie when you are docking. It also covers how to handle emergencies and relevant legal requirements and more.

There are also many differences between the state boating laws for minimum age requirements and certification requirements. The best choice is to check with NASBLA to find out what laws are applicable in that state.

What You Need to Rent a Boat

First, you must have a boater certificate or have someone joining you that does, or rent a boat with a captain to be legal. You must also be 18 years old or older and have a verified payment form. The rental company will still check these items even if you are not going to operate the watercraft. The requirements of the rental boat’s insurance company must also be met to rent a boat. Some require you to be at least 25 years old, have a verified account, a valid driver’s license, no criminal convictions, driving violations or boating insurance claims for the past three years. In addition, you will also need to comply with the states laws for boating.

The most important item in renting a boat is to make sure you follow the state laws and stay safe on the water.

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