Boating Laws and Regulations

Wisconsin Boating Safety Education Requirements

A Wisconsin Boating Safety Certificate is required for all boaters born after January 1, 1989 who operate a motorboat or Personal Watercraft (PWC) on Wisconsin's waters. There is no minimum age to take the Wisconsin Boating Safety Course, however certificates are not valid until the operator reaches the age of 12.

DNR Number Required

DNR Number Required Anyone who holds a license or certificate that is issued by the Wisconsin DNR (including the boating safety certificate), holds a DNR Customer Number. Before you purchase your Wisconsin Boating Safety Certificate you must have a valid DNR number. If you hold a fishing license, hunting license, ATV or snowmobile registration for instance, then your DNR customer number is located on the license/certificate. If you do not have a DNR number or you are not certain whether you have one, you can contact the DNR office (open 7 days a week) for assistance.

More information on finding or obtaining a DNR number

Age Restrictions

  • No one under the age of 10 may operate a motorboat in Wisconsin.
  • Children ages 10 and 11 may operate a motorboat ONLY if they are under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.
  • Children ages 12 to 15 may operate a motorboat if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if they have completed a Wisconsin-approved boating safety course.
  • No one under the age of 12 may operate, rent or lease a Personal Watercraft (PWC) in Wisconsin.
  • No one under the age of 16 may lease or rent a PWC in Wisconsin.
  • Children under the age of 13 must wear a properly fitted Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) when onboard any vessel.

Important Note

The online boating safety course covers a wide range of operating laws in Wisconsin. For a complete listing of Wisconsin's boat operating rules and regulations, please consult Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.wi.gov.

Boating License or Boating Safety Certificate...is there a difference?

The boater education card is proof that you have successfully completed a boating safety course. The boater education card does not expire and does not need to be renewed. Therefore, it is NOT a Wisconsin Boating License!