Boating Laws and Regulations

Iowa Boating Safety Education Requirements

In Iowa, anyone who is over the age of 12 but under 18 must carry an Iowa Watercraft Safety Certificate if they are operating a boat over 10hp on state waters. It is illegal for an adult to allow a person in this age range to operate their boat without a valid watercraft safety certificate.


Persons who are visiting Iowa from another state must still comply with Iowa's boating safety requirements. If you have proof of completion of a NASBLA-approved boating safety course from another state (e.g. another state's boater education card or boating license) you can legally operate a vessel in Iowa.

Age Restrictions

No person under the age of 12 may operate a motorboat that is over 10hp, unless accompanied by a responsible and qualified adult who is at least 18 years old.

All children under the age of 13 are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved PFD at all times while the vessel is underway unless they are below deck, in an enclosed cabin, or if they are a passenger on a commercial vessel that has a capacity for 25 persons or more.

Important Note

The online boating safety course covers a wide range of operating laws in Iowa. For a complete listing of Iowa’s boat operating rules and regulations, please consult the Iowa DNR website at

Boating License or Watercraft Safety 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 an Iowa Boating License!