Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about New York Boating Regulations & Laws

Q. What is the "New York Boating Safety Certificate"?

A. The Boating Safety Certificate is proof of successful completion of an approved eight (8) hour New York Safe Boating classroom course and final proctored exam. The Boating Safety Certificate must be carried with you whenever you are operating a powered watercraft to avoid high fines.

Q. Do I have to get the New York Boating Safety Certificate?

A. If you were born on or after May 1, 1996, you are required to successfully complete a state approved 8-hour classroom course and obtain a boating safety safety certificate to operate a motorboat. Additionally, all persons, regardless of age, must complete a Boating Safety Education Course in order to operate a PWC on NYS waters. The required boating safety certificate must be carried at all times while operating the boat.

Q. Can I take an online safety course to get my certification?

A. No. Only certificates issued by New York State, the USCG Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron are accepted as proof of course completion. State law requires at least eight hours of classroom instruction followed by a proctored exam.

Q. How do I get my New York Boating Safety Certificate?

A. You must successfully complete an 8 hour classroom course and proctored exam. To find a classroom course in areas of New York State, please visit: or Safe Boating America.

Q. What is the minimum age to operate a powered vessel in New York?

A. Individuals less than 18 years of age who have not successfully completed a boating safety course may only operate a vessel while under the direct supervision of an individual who is 18 years or age or older.

Q. What is the minimum age to operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC) in New York?

A. As of January 1, 2005 all personal watercraft operators must be 14 years of age or older and must successfully complete a Boating Safety Education Course to operate personal Watercraft in the state of New York.

Q. How can I prepare for the classroom course and final proctored exam?

A. offers a free online study guide, covering all of the boating safety basics that you will learn in your classroom course. You can also prepare yourself for the final proctored exam by taking our practice chapter quizzes. The study guide and practice quizzes can be accessed anytime, and you can log in and out to review the study guide at your own pace.

Q. Is there a time limit to complete the final exam?

A. You can take the final exam at any time, day or night. The exam is not timed but inactive exams will be erased after 24 hours.

Q. Is there a time limit to complete the online course?

A. You can take the online course at any time, day or night. However, if it has been more than 12 months since you have started the course, you will have to restart the course from the beginning (if you already paid, you will NOT have to pay for the course again).

Q. Is anyone exempt from getting the Boating Safety Certificate?

A. Yes. The following individuals are exempt from the PWC Educational requirements:

  • Both U.S. and Canadian licensed commercial vessel operators,
  • State certified instructors,
  • Certified instructors of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Power Squadrons,
  • Police/peace officers, fire/rescue personnel and lifeguards acting pursuant to their assigned duties.

Q. What are the technical requirements for the online boating test?

  Minimum Recommended
Browser Internet Explorer 9.0
Firefox 2.0
Chrome 3.0
Safari 2.0
Opera 9.0
Latest versions of Chrome,
Firefox, or Internet Explorer
Operating System Windows XP or
Mac OS 9
Windows 7 or
Mac OS X
Screen Resolution 1024x768
Internet Connection dial-up high-speed