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The BoatUS Foundation's Online Course is the only FREE Online Boating Safety Course approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways.

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Recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, approved by NASBLA and your state boating agency.

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NEW California Requirements Starting In 2018.

As of January 1, 2018, the mandatory boating safety education law goes into effect, and will be phased in by age. If you operate any type of motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats/paddlecraft), you will be required to pass an approved boating safety examinaton and carry a lifetime California Boater Card. Please check the Education Requirments & Certificate Info tab above for more information.

Before taking the course:

Apply for a California Boater ID on the California website and keep your ID number handy.

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Create an account and enroll yourself in a Boating Safety Course from the Course Catalog

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Study and pass the FREE Boating Safety Course.

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Print out your temporary certificate of completion yourself for free

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Education Requirements:

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Mandatory Boater Education: On January 1, 2018, California began implementing its new seven-year phase-in of the mandatory boater safety education law for boaters who operate a motorized vessel on California waterways. Prior to implementation, the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) will began issuing lifetime Boater Cards to those who show proof of passing an approved boater safety exam such as this Boat US Foundation course.

Are you pre-qualified for a California Boater Card? DBW will accept proof of passing an approved boater education course taken between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017. Persons who have passed an approved examination during this timeframe will have until December 31, 2018 to apply for a Boater Card at Phase in schedule for those who are required to possess a valid card:

  • January 1, 2018 – Persons 20 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2019 – Persons 25 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2020 – Persons 35 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2021 – Persons 40 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2022 – Persons 45 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2023 – Persons 50 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2024 – Persons 60 years of age or younger
  • January 1, 2025 – All persons regardless of age

Age & Horsepower Restrictions: A person under the age of 16 may not operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower unless the boat is a sailboat and does not exceed 30 feet in length - OR - the boat is a dinghy used between a moored boat and shore or between 2 moored boats. The law does allow persons aged 12-15 to operate motorboats of more than 15 horsepower or sailboats over 30 feet if supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age.

PWC Operation: A person under that age of 16 may not operate a personal watercraft (PWC) of more than 15 horsepower unless they are between the ages of 12-15 and are supervised by a person on board who is at least 18 years of age. Any person, who allows an unsupervised person under the age of 16 to operate, is guilty of an infraction.

How Do I Get My California Certificate?

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1. Apply for California Boater ID on the California website

2. Come to BoatUS Foundation and register for California course, enter your California Boater ID on the registration page (or later if you need to)

3. Complete the course (you will receive a temporary certificate of completion when you pass the course)

4. We will send your Application ID to California for verification

5. You will receive a confirmation email from the state of California when your application is accepted and your card will arrive in the mail within 60 days

Frequently Asked Questions:

Below are some common questions asked about our FREE boating safety course.

  • How much does the course cost?

    The BoatU.S. Foundation is a free NASBLA approved course. When you finish, you can print your certificate on your own printer or order a printed paper certificate($8) or plastic card($13) for a fee. Some states will charge additional fees to issue you a permanent state ID verifying completion of a boating safety course. Be sure to read your state's Mandatory Eduation Requirements for more information.

  • How do I print my certificate?
    Print your certificate of completion from your My Account screen.

    Figure A.

    Print your certificate of completion from your My Account screen.

    Figure B.

    Instructions for Users With a Printer:

    1. Once you have completed all included lessons for a course you will be awarded a certificate of completion (if applicable) which you can print yourself from your My Account screen. It will appear on the left under the calendar as shown in the image (Figure A) above.
    2. Click on your state name to bring up your printing options (Figure B). To print a paper copy of your certificate click "Print Certificate".
    3. After you choose "Print Certificate", a separate window will pop-up and you may briefly see the certificate before it moves off screen and your print dialog appears. Then select your printer from the list and click OK. Do not assume that your certificate won't print just because you can't see it.
  • How long is my certificate valid?

    Your boating safety certificate will never expire. It is valid for life.

  • I took the course a while ago, how do I re-print my certificate?

    If you took the course prior to August 1, 2010, to re-print your certificate at any time, follow these steps:

    1. Click on the course you originally took below. (If you cannot remember which course you took please call us at 800-245-2628)
    2. Enter you email address and first name (make sure you enter the email you used when you registered with the course originally).
    3. Click Get Previous Certificate and follow the prompts

    General Boating Safety Course | PWC Safety Course | Oregon Boating Safety Course

    If you took the course after August 1, 2010, to re-print your certificate at any time, follow these steps:

    1. Return to the BoatUS Foundation ELearning Center at
    2. Enter you username and password. Once you have logged in your certificate will be located in your My Account on the left side underneath the calendar.
    3. Click on your states name and select a print option.

To view the complete list of questions visit:

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Need Help? Contact us!

Most Questions Can Be Answered Through Our FAQs Page.

Call or Email the BoatUS Foundation about our boating safety course or about course questions.

Feel free to call or email if you ever need help while you are taking the course.

Send an email to
Or call us Toll Free at 1-800-245-2628
Mon - Fri: 9AM - 5PM Eastern Time

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Course Information:

4 - 8 Hours

Estimated Course Time

6 Lessons

Each Contains a 10 Question Quiz

Final Exam

75 Questions Pulled Randomly

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Complete the Course at Your Own Pace

Choose when and where to take your course. Take it on a desktop or laptop.

Special Information for Phones, iPads and Other Tablet Users: Our course is optimzed for laptops and desktops. It is not optimized to work on mobile devices and tablets. You may experience techincal errors. You must turn off your pop-up blocker in your settings menu in order to view any of the courses. Please also make sure to turn your device to landscape mode if buttons or text is missing.

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Online Course Video:


  • Great course, and so much more convenient than going at night for several nights... Keep up the great work, and see you on the water.

  • Thank you so much! This was a great course and I learned so much. Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Thank you. The information that you gave me allowed me to complete the course. Your assistance was very much appreciated.

    D. White
  • Thank you so much! You folks are so kind. Good luck with the updates and have safe boating fun this summer!

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