California Boater Education Law in 2018

Published on April 6th, 2017

Effective January 1, 2018, all individuals 20 years of age and younger who operate a recreational motorized vessel on California waterways will be required to carry a boater card issued by the California Division of Boating and Waterways, according to a law passed in 2015 now going into full effect.

Boating Education Rollout
Each year after January 2018, a new age group will be added to those who are required to possess a valid card. By 2025, all persons who operate a motorized recreational vessel on California waters must have a valid certification card. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime.

Violation of this law can result in fines ranging from $100 to $500, based on the number of previous violations. The law applies to all boaters, except for those who meet the following exemptions:

• A person operating a rental vessel.
• A person operating a vessel while under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of a California Boater Card.
• A person who is a resident of a state other than California who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for less than 60 days and meets the boating requirements, if any, of his/her state.

See additional exemptions and find out more information at the California Division of Boating and Waterways official website.

Certification Requirements
To meet the new requirements, boaters must pass an approved California boating education course before taking a boat onto state waters. Courses are available online and in person and take about three hours to complete.

The self-paced, online course available from is approved by the California Division of Boating and Waterways as well as the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

Topics include navigation laws, personal watercraft, personal flotation devices (life jackets), rescue techniques, and more.

You can find in-person classroom training and additional information at

Source: Kalkomey Enterprises

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