Boating Mandatory Education
State law requires operators of motorboats with 15 horsepower or greater to take a safety education course and obtain a boater education card to operate a boat in Washington. Boaters can take an education course in a classroom, online, or at home.
Classroom courses in boating safety vary in length and cost, depending on the course provider. Classes offer students the chance to interact with an instructor who is an experienced boater as well as learn specific local boating information and network with other boaters. For a variety of classroom and online options visit the State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Boating Program Web page.
Home Study Courses
The Adventures in Boating Washington home study course consists of an online study guide and certification exam booklet. The course offers the basics of safe boating that all recreational boaters should know and covers a number of important laws and regulations. A certificate of accomplishment is issued upon successful completion of the exam.
To take a home study course:
- Read the online study guide Boat Washington Course. You do not need to register for the course for access to the online study guide.
- To request the certification exam booklet, send an e-mail with the following information:
- Date of birth
- First and last name (exactly how it appears on your current government-issued photo identification (e.g. driver’s license, state identification card or passport)
- Mailing address (including city, state, and zip code)
- E-mail: BOATEXAM@parks.wa.gov
Note: Send only one name per e-mail request. A unique numbered certification exam booklet and detailed instructions will be mailed to you. Allow up to two weeks for delivery.
If you have any questions about the home study program, e-mail BOATING@parks.wa.gov or call (360) 902-8555.
Obtaining a Boater Education Card
After taking the boater education course, you must submit your certificate of completion together with a completed application and a check for $10. Then you will receive a Boater Education Card. State law requires most operators of motorboats with a 15 horsepower or greater motor to get a boater education card. Boat operators who were born before Jan. 1, 1955, are exempt. Boat operators of other ages are being phased in. To see when you are required to carry a boater education card, visit the Washington State Parks and Recreation Web site at http://parks.wa.gov/boating/boatered/?subject=faq.
If you take the course online or have already taken an approved boating class, you will need to submit your course completion certificate along with the Boater Education Card Application. The card is good for a lifetime.
Read more about the state’s boating program
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s boating program promotes safe and environmentally responsible recreation on Washington's waterways. A citizen advisory committee guides program activities. Where possible all boating safety activities occur at the county and city levels. The state program assists local groups that provide the public with boating safety education and law enforcement activities.
FREE online paddle sports safety course!
The Washington State Parks Boating Program invites boaters to try an online course for paddlers. The free, online paddling course is being offered by BoaterExam.com. The course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, a nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. The course covers the basics for your first adventure on the water…a must for anyone looking to start paddling. Whether you have a desire to learn the sport for the first time or improve your skills as a paddler, the course will provide you with basic boating knowledge and sharpen your skills.
Take the free course and you’ll start your boating season with important information that will help you build on your technique, confidence, and enhance your time out on the waterways! Get started