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