Boating Laws and Regulations

Maryland Boating Safety Education Requirements

All persons born on or after July 1, 1972, are required to have a certificate of boating safety education in order to operate a motorized vessel in the state of Maryland.

No one may operate a motor powered vessel that is in towing activities if they are under the age of 12. Personal watercraft (PWC) operators must be at least 16 years of age.

The certificate must be kept on the person at all times while operating. Penalties are in affect for those who fail to present the certificate to an officer upon request. There is a minimum charge of $25 for the first offense and up to $500 for each offense thereafter.

Important: New Law in Maryland

As of October 1, 2010, all persons under the age of 16 who DO NOT have a valid boating safety certificate and are operating a motorized vessel at least 11 feet in length MUST be under the supervision of an adult (18 years or older) who possesses a valid boating safety certificate or was born before July 1, 1972. If a person under the age of 16 is operating a vessel that is less than 11 feet in length, they may be supervised by a person of any age, provided they have a valid boating safety certificate.

The only time operators are NOT required to have their Boater Education Certificate is under the following conditions:

  • If the operator is from out of country, operating a boat from out of country and is not in the state of Maryland for more than 90 days.
  • If the operator is from out of state and has fulfilled the vessel registration requirements set forth by his/her state and is not in Maryland for more than 60 days. They must also be at least 16 years of age and have proof of successful completion of an approved boating safety course from the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
  • If they hold a commercial vessel operator's license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.