Boating Safety and Education Course

Participating in a recreational boating safety education course will teach you how to safely operate and maintain a boat and introduce you to Maine boating laws and resources. The State of Maine has accepted the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) educational standards that is recognized in all 50 states and the 6 territories. The Boating Safety Education Course is available both online and in-person. Whether you attend an in-person course or opt for the online option the course duration is about 6 hours and covers the following subjects: 

  • Knowing your boat
  • Before you get underway
  • Operating your boat
  • The legal requirements of boating
  • Boating emergencies
  • Environmental concerns
  • Enjoying watersports with your boat

Requirements

Beginning January 1, 2024, a person born on or after January 1, 1999, may not operate a motorboat of twenty-five (25) horsepower or greater for recreational boating purposes on inland waters of this State or territorial waters, unless that person is 12 years of age or older and has completed a boater safety and education course. These persons must possess and present a boater safety and education course certificate for inspection upon request to a law enforcement officer. There are a few exemptions, such as for registered Maine guides (hunting, fishing, and recreational guides only), commercial fishermen, daily boat renters, and merchant mariners, please see the frequently asked questions section below for more information. 

Online Boating Education Courses

There are currently three vendors that provide Maine online boating education courses. Once you have successfully completed this self-paced online course you will immediately be issued a boater safety and education course certificate. The online courses are:

  • BoatUS Foundation: This foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions boating safety.  This is a free online course that requests a $10 donation. 
  • Boat-Ed:  This online course costs $34.95. 
  • Boattests101:  this online course costs $24.95.  

In-person/Classroom Courses

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) volunteers throughout the state teach the in-person boating education course. Upon successfully completing and passing the final exam you will be issued a boating education certificate that is recognized in all 50 states and the 6 territories.  Check our webpage periodically to find a course near you.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers their Boat America in-person boating education course.  This course meets the NASBLA standards and is approved to be taught in Maine.  Simply enter your zip code to the search feature and select only the Boat America courses, the other courses they offer do not meet the NASBLA requirements.  Upon successfully completing and passing the final exam you will be issued a Boating Safety and Education Certificate that is recognized in all 50 states and the 6 territories.  Check this link to find a course:  USCGAUX: Public Boating Courses

Current Courses

County Location Contact Date/Time Info

Can't find a course for your area? Contact the Recreational Safety Division Office at (207) 287-5220.

Maine Boating Education Equivalency Exam

The equivalency exam is a 75-question, multiple-choice exam designed for experienced boaters. This test is proctored by Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife staff and the volunteers that teach the Maine classroom Boating Education Safety Courses. Testing dates and locations may be found on the MDIFW webpage and Pre-registration is required. To prepare for this exam it is recommended you review The Boaters Guide to Maine's Boating Laws and Responsibilities (PDF).  


Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered recreational boating?

"Recreational boating" means operating a motorboat primarily for the operator's pleasure or leasing, renting, or chartering a motorboat to another person for the other person's pleasure. "Recreational boating" does not include using a motorboat engaged in the carriage of passengers for hire.  13001, sub- 24-A

What is considered Maine inland and territorial waters?

Maine waters are all lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams within the state of Maine are considered inland waters. Territorial waters means all waters of the State within the rise and fall of the tide seaward to the three nautical-mile line as shown on the most recently published Federal Government nautical chart but does not include areas above any fishway or dam when that fishway or dam is the dividing  line between tidewater and fresh water.

Do I need a license?

Maine does not have a "boating license." The Boating Safety Education Card is proof of successful completion of the educational requirements and is valid for life.

I was born on or after Jan. 1, 1999 and want to operate a boat on Maine waters.  Do I need a boating Safety Education Course?

Yes, if you operate a motorboat of twenty-five (25) horsepower or greater, Maine law requires anyone who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1999 to successfully complete a NASBLA approved Boating Safety Education Course and obtain the Boating Safety Education Card.

I am under the age of 12 years old; can I operate a motorboat less than 25 hp alone on Maine waters without a Boating Education Safety Course?

Anyone under the age of 12 may operate a motorboat alone on Maine waters as long as the engine is less than 10 horsepower. Anyone under the age of 12 may operate a motorboat if the motor is between 10 horsepower and 25 horsepower but must have supervision.

Do I need a Boating Safety Education Course to supervise a youth who wants to operate a boat?

Beginning January 1, 2024, if a person is under 12 years of age and wants to operate a motorboat with a motor greater than 10 horsepower, the supervisor, if the supervisor is born after January 1, 1999, must be 16 years of age or older and have completed a Boater Safety Education Course.

I would like to operate a personal watercraft (Jet ski, Sea-doo) by myself on Maine waters.  What are the age requirements?

Beginning January 1, 2024, a person born on or after January 1, 1999 must be 16 years of age or older and have completed a Boater Safety and Education Course to operate a personal watercraft on inland waters of the State.

I have already taken a NASBLA approved Boating Safety Education Course in another state years ago.  Do I need to take the course again?

No, regardless of where and when you took the course as long as it is a NASBLA approved course.  If you cannot find your card you can call the state's recreational safety office or the vendor that you took the online course with, and they will reissue another certificate/ wallet card.

I am a Maine commercial fisherman.  Do I need to take a Boating Education Safety Course?

When engaged in commercial fishing activities the Boating Safety and Education Course is not required. However, commercial fishermen are not exempt when boating for recreational purposes.

I am a registered Maine Guide.  Do I need to take a Boating Safety and Education Course?

Registered Maine hunting, fishing, recreational, and tidewater classification guides do not need to take a mandatory Boater Education and Safety Course.

I plan to test drive a motorboat that is registered and that is offered for sale by a dealer that has been issued a watercraft dealer's certificate of number and the person is under the direct supervision of a person 16 years of age or older who has completed a Boating Education Safety Course.  Do I need a Boating Education Safety Course?

No Boating Safety and Education Course is required.

I would like to rent a boat for the day.  Do I need to take a Boating Safety and Education Course?

If you possess a rental or lease agreement that lists the person as an authorized operator of the motorboat and the person has completed a temporary boater safety course provided by the rental agent who has been issued a certificate of number.  A renter or lessor meeting the requirements may operate the rented or leased motorboat for up to 14 days from the date of course completion or for the duration of that rental agreement.

I am not a citizen of the United States and will be arriving to Maine by sea on my sailboat or motorboat.  Do I need to complete a Boating Safety and Education Course?

No, if you have arrived in the United States by sea and the boat is temporarily operating on territorial waters for 60 days or less no Boating Safety Education Course is required.