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California Boater Card

America's Boating card
California Boater Card


The California Boater Card shows that its holder has successfully taken and passed a NASBLA*/state-approved boater safety education examination.  The California Boater Card program is phased-in by age for operators of motorized boats on state waterways (see phase-in schedule below). By 2025, all persons who operate on California waters will be required to have one. Once issued, the card remains valid for a boat operator’s lifetime.

California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b) contains the following phase-in schedule based on operator age:

  • 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

The card is issued by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). DBW began issuing the California Boater Card on Dec. 1, 2017. The lifetime card fee is $10. The lost card replacement fee is $5.

Once DBW has received your application, proof of education and payment, you will receive a 90-day temporary boater card by email. You should receive your official boater card by mail within 30 days.

For information on mandatory boating safety education requirements for each state, click here.

+California age restrictions for operating a motorized vessel: According to California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 658.5, NO person under 16 years of age may operate a boat with a motor of more than 15 horsepower, except for a sailboat that does not exceed 30 feet in length or a dinghy used directly between a moored boat and the shore (or between two moored boats).

*National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

To obtain this card, you need to do an approved course. Suggested courses (check for updates):


Make sure that you are legal and carry your California Boater Card with you at all times when on the water.


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