Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Boating Navigation Law

Skip Navigation LinksHome / Recreation / Boating / Navigation Law

New York State Navigation Law

The New York State LegislatureLeaving New York State Parks publishes all the laws of the State on the web. Select the link for Laws of New York at the bottom of the page. The Navigation Law is listed under NAV. Article 3 concerns itself with the navigable water of the state, while Article 4 covers the conduct of vessels.

The Vehicle and Traffic Law (VAT), Title 11, Article 48, covers the registration of vessels. The Department of Motor VehiclesLeaving New York State Parks administers the registration of vessels, and they have an excellent FAQ that can be accessed on their website.

Laws regarding the use of the lands under the water, including docks, can be found in the Public Lands Law (PBL), Article 6. The Office of General ServicesLeaving New York State Parks administers these provisions.

Lake George also has rules and regulations unique to that waterway. For more information, please visit the Lake George Park Commission'sLeaving New York State Parks website.

Navigation Law Updates

New Mandatory Motor Boat Education Law

Beginning May 1, 2014, Sections 49, 71-d, 75, 78 and 79 of the Navigation Law shall be amended to provide for mandatory boater safety education. For the complete text of these laws, please visit New York State LegislatureLeaving New York State Parks.

Any person born on or after May 1, 1996 and at least 10 years old who operates a motorboat must be the holder of a boating safety certificate issued by one of State Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard AuxiliaryLeaving New York State Parks or the U.S. Power SquadronLeaving New York State Parks.

An approved course of instruction includes at least 8-hours of classroom training and a proctored examination. Students must be at least 10 years of age to take a course. Age and education requirements for personal watercraft operators remain unchanged.

Motor Boat Education Requirements:

  • Any operator under 18 without a safety certificate must be accompanied on the vessel by someone at least 18 who holds a certificate if required by age, or someone at least 18 who is not required to hold a certificate.
  • An operator 18 or older who is required to hold a certificate but does not, may operate a motorboat if accompanied by someone else over 18 who holds a safety certificate.
  • The owner of a recently purchased motor boat, if legally required to hold a boating safety certificate, may operate such vessel without the required certificate for a period of time not to exceed 120 days from purchase.
  • Persons 18 years of age or older may rent a vessel without holding a safety certificate, provided the operator of the livery holds a certificate, demonstrates the use of the vessel, and the person renting the vessel demonstrates their understanding of the vessels operation in return. Those under the age of 18 must have a safety certificate in order to rent a vessel.

Motor Boat Operators Exempted From Having To Hold A Boating Safety Certificate:

  • Persons born before May 1, 1996
  • Certified New York Safe Boating Instructors
  • Members of the USCG Auxiliary or US Power Squadron
  • Persons licensed by NYS Parks, the United States Coast Guard or Canadian Coast Guard to operate commercial vessels
  • Police officers, peace officers, fire and rescue personnel, and life guards when acting pursuant to assigned duties
  • A resident of another state or country who is the holder of a valid boating safety certificate issued according to the laws of their home state or country

Personal Watercraft Rentals

The Navigation Law has been amended to extend the expiration date of Section 73-a, Subdivision 2, regarding the rental of personal watercraft. Persons over the age of 18 renting personal watercraft may continue to operate them without having to hold a boating safety certificate. This provision, set to expire on January 1, 2012, will now expire in 2014.

No other changes have been made to this section.