Mandatory Boater Education - All the Information is Right Here!

Mandatory Boater Education – All the Information is Right Here!

Many recreational boaters in Washington are required to complete an approved boating education course and carry a Washington State Boater Education Card.

National and statewide boating accident statistics tell us that educated boaters are safer. Whether you cruise, sail, kayak, fish, or do yoga on a stand-up paddle board, you need to know the basics of boating safety.

The Washington State Boater Education Card is valid for your lifetime! It is also valid in Canada and Oregon. We encourage you to take an education course even if you’re not required to carry a card.


If you fit the following criteria, you are required to have a Boater Education Card.

  • You plan on operating a vessel with a 15-horsepower (or greater) motor.
  • You were born after Jan. 1, 1955.
  • You are 12 years of age or older. Youth under 12 years old are not allowed to operate a motor boat.

If you fit any of the following criteria, you are exempt.

  • You were born before January 1, 1955.
  • You are operating a commercial vessel (and are licensed to do so).
  • You have a current Coast Guard Boat Operator License.
  • You are renting a boat and have completed a watercraft safety checklist.

If you fit any of the following criteria, you have a 60-day exemption period.

  • You are an out-of-state or foreign visitor boating for less than 60 days.
  • You hold a valid boater education card from another state.
  • You have recently purchased a new boat and have valid documentation showing purchase date.

How to get it?

  1. Take one of the following approved boater education courses:
  2. After completing a boater education course, submit a Boater Education Card Application, along with $10, and a legal copy of your proof of course completion.
  3. Then mail your completed application packet and processing fee to:Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
    Boating Program
    P.O. Box 34333
    Seattle, WA 98124-1333
  • You should receive your card to you within two to three weeks. During high peak periods, it may take up to six weeks. If you haven’t received your card within 90 days, please contact us at or (360) 902-8555.
You may apply for a replacement Boater Education Card if your legal name has been changed, you need to correct personal information you entered incorrectly, or your card was lost, stolen, or destroyed. The fee for a replacement card is $5.To receive a replacement card:

  1. Complete a Boater Card Replacement Affidavit
  2. Submit your completed affidavit, along with a check or money order for $5, made payable to Washington State Parks.
  3. Then submit via mail to:
    Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
    Boating Programs
    P.O. Box 34333
    Seattle, WA 98124-1333
Please allow four to six weeks to process an affidavit and receive a replacement card.

Visit the Parks Department Website

Man driving a powerboat with a woman sitting close next to him and three kids sitting in the back.