Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Boating Education

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Boating Education

New York State requires certain boat operators to have a boating safety certificate. New York and most other states do not require a "license" to operate your personal recreational boat.

New York State Boating Safety Certificate

There are licenses for operating a boat on a professional level such at sightseeing or charter fishing or even commercial work boats such as tug and ferries. If you need information on this type of license check out our page Public Vessels

New York State provides boating safety certificates to those people who successfully complete a New York State Safe Boating Classroom Course. New York State also recognizes the safety certificates issued by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the US Power Squadron and the US Powerboating. Boating Safety Certificates from several online course providers are approved for New York State residents

Who needs a boating safety certificate?


If you were born on or after May 1, 1996 you will need a boating safety certificate.

Personal Watercraft

If you are 14 years of age or older you must have a boating safety certificate.

If you are a New York resident you will need to have a NYS boating safety certificate; if you are from out of state New York recognizes the boating safety certificate issued by your home state.

Certain allowances to this law have been made for visitors to New York, persons renting a boat from a livery and persons purchasing a new boat for the first time.
Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information on boating safety certificates.

Operators of sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, rowboats, canoes and any other watercraft without a motor are not required to have a boating safety certificate to be on the water.

Sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards, rowboats canoes and any other watercraft

Though it is not required to have a boating safety certificate to be on the water, it is good idea to take a boating course. You can find an on the water paddling course in many areas of the state or you may want to begin with one of these online programs:

Take a Boating Safety Class

Choose the method that best fits your schedule, style and needs. Both options are approved by the New York State Office of Parks and result in certificates that never expire. Please note that some courses charge a fee.

In-Classroom Instruction

New York State Parks' Bureau of Marine Services has over 55 years of experience teaching New Yorkers to operate their boats safely. In the last 15 years, through State Parks network of certified instructors, we have taught more than 300,000 people.

The in-classroom course option is designed as a comprehensive study of boating safety to teach the fundamentals of safe boating operation. The course requires a structured classroom setting and has been approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

  • Courses are available throughout the state. The course listing is updated daily.
  • Find a safe boating course near you.
  • Registration for a course is completed by calling the contact number provided. Course providers are responsible for any fees they may charge.
  • Fees paid to the instructor do not cover the cost of your permanent certificate issued by NYS Parks.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information on classroom courses

Classroom Providers Online Class Instruction

Beginning in 2015, the Boating Safety Certificate course requirements can be completed with one of the online courses listed below.

  • Courses are available at your convenience; just click one of the links below to begin your online learning experience. Course providers are responsible for any fees they may charge.
  • Learning is completed online, successful completion of unit exams is required in order to advance through the course and ultimately undertake a comprehensive final exam.
  • Fees paid to the online provider cover the cost of your permanent certificate issued by the provider.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information about online boating education courses

New York State Adventure License

New York State DMV Photo Issued Document

If you have a lifetime recreation certificate or sporting license, your New York State Driver License can now become an all-purpose boating, fishing, hunting and parks ID card.Leaving New York State Parks

Anyone successfully completing the New York Safe Boating Course or approved online boating safety course may opt to have their driver's license, non-driver ID, or learner's permit indicate completion of the course. A small anchor icon will be placed on your DMV document, attesting that you have earned a New York State boating safety certificate.

The advantage to this program is that you will no longer need to carry your boating safety certificate with you when boating, provided you have your DMV credential with you. DMV will maintain a record of your having completed the boating safety course, and automatically place the icon on your license each time it is renewed.

There are several ways to apply for this program

  • If you are planning on taking a classroom course, your instructor has proper paper work for you.
  • If you have taken the classroom course in the past and have received your permanent card you can go to the NYS Parks Adventure License page.
    • For payment through check or money order, please use the following form
  • If you have taken an online class you must log back into their website and click on the link they provide for the Adventure License.
  • If you have a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron or US Powerboating Boating Safety Certificate, you must bring your original certificate directly to any DMV office.
  • If you have taken the classroom course in the past you can bring your NYS Boating Safety Certificate to your local DMV office.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more information before you call DMV.

Instructors for New York Safe Boating Course

How to become an Instructor for the New York Safe Boating Course

New instructors are needed to teach the New York Safe Boating course to youths and adults. New York State Parks provides textbooks, lesson plans and a power point presentation at no cost to all instructors.

To begin the certification process, complete the New York Safe Boating Instructor Application (pdf). For more information call (518) 474-0445.

Suffolk County Residents

In 2014, legislation signed by the Governor supersedes all local laws or ordinances with respect to motorboat education requirements. Any local boater education requirement adopted by a locality prior to the effective date of this law is no longer enforceable.