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Get Your California Boater Card Online

Drive a Boat USA is an official provider of the California online boater safety course and Boater Exam. Our course is approved by the California Division of Boating and Waterways. Take the course to get your California Boater Card. Boater Cards are required to operate a motorized vessel on California waterways.

Get your California Boater Card in 3 simple steps

With our official California boating safety course, you will be well prepared to take the online boat exam with fun and engaging videos and quizzes.

Step 1: Complete the approved boating safety course

Our boater education course includes interactive quizzes and videos. It covers all education requirements to obtain your California boat license. You must complete the course before taking the test.

Step 2: Take the official boat test

Pass the final boat test to obtain your certificate of completion. The California approved exam is open-book and includes unlimited retries!

Step 3: Apply for your California Boater Card

The last step is to print your certificate and head over to the California state website to apply for your Boater Card.

California Division of Boating and Waterways approved boating course

Drive a Boat USA is an official provider of the California boating safety course approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways.

Accessible on all devices

The Drive a Boat USA boating safety course can be studied at your own pace on your preferred device, whether desktop, laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

California Boating Card FAQ

As of January 1st, 2022, all persons 45 years of age or younger are required by law to carry the California Boater Card when operating a motorized vessel. The card is proof that you know the safety rules and regulations governing boating in California. By 2025, it must be obtained by all boaters in California, regardless of age.

California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b) contains the following phase-in schedule based on operator age (effective January 1st of each year):

  • 2018: Persons 20 years of age or younger
  • 2019: Persons 25 years of age or younger
  • 2020: Persons 35 years of age or younger
  • 2021: Persons 40 years of age or younger
  • 2022: Persons 45 years of age or younger
  • 2023: Persons 50 years of age or younger
  • 2024: Persons 60 years of age or younger
  • 2025: All persons regardless of age

The boating safety course must be studied for a minimum of 3 hours. After studying, you will have unlimited time to complete the final boating exam.

With the exception of a sailboat no more than 30 feet in length or a dinghy used immediately in between moored boat and the shore (or two moored boats), no one under the age of 16 may operate a boat with a motor of over 15 horsepower.

Children 12-15 years old are permitted to operate vessels with more than 15 horsepower or sailboats over 30 feet provided they are supervised on board by an adult over the age of 18 who carries a California Boater Card, as stipulated by California law.

Boat operators aged 16 or 17 who do not have a California Boater Card may operate a vessel if monitored by an adult over the age of 18 who has a California Boater Card. Infringement of these regulations is considered an offence and carries penalties.

A California Boater Card is not mandatory for the following persons to operate a motorboat in Californian waters under state law:

  • A person driving a rented watercraft.
  • A person operating a watercraft while under the close supervision of an 18-year-old or older California Boater Card holder.
  • A resident of a state other than California who is temporarily operating a vessel in California for fewer than 60 days and satisfies his or her state’s boating regulations, if any.
  • A resident of a country other than the United States who operates a vessel in California temporarily for fewer than 90 days and satisfies his or her country’s navigation requirements, if any.
  • A person who operates a boat in an organized regatta or boat race, or a water ski race.
  • A person who holds a valid commercial fishing license.
  • A person who holds a valid marine operator’s license, applicable to the waters on which the licensee operates, issued by the United States Coast Guard, or who holds a valid certificate issued under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.
  • A person who has successfully completed a boating safety course approved by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission Post.

For information on replacing a lost or damaged Boater Card, please visit the California Boater Card website. There will be a $5 fee for a replacement card.

Yes! State, territory, and provincial government agencies will recognize NASBLA-approved boating education cards and Transport Canada-approved Pleasure Craft Operator Cards held by visiting boaters.

In addition to the $10 California application ID* that each student must purchase from the state’s website, when you register for the boating safety course, there is a fee of $34.95 US to take the final California Boater Card test. Upon completion of the course, you can immediately take the boating exam with free unlimited retries.

Group and family discounts are also available from Drive a Boat USA:

∙       1 Person: $34.95

∙       2 People: $29.95 per license

∙       3 People: $24.95 per license

∙       4 People: $20.95 per license

The California Boater card fee is separate from the course. You will need to go to the California state site to apply for your Application ID number and pay $10 for the card.

No. Your boater card does not expire and does not need to be renewed. Once you get your official California boating license, you are certified for life.


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certified boaters since 2001