As the temperature warms up across New York State, many people are starting to make plans to get out and enjoy the weather. With so many beautiful lakes and rivers in the state, one of the popular outdoor activities New Yorkers love is boating. But, legally speaking, who can actually drive a boat in New York? Do you need a license?

The short answer is 'no,' you don't need a license (for recreational use), but you may need to take a safety class, depending on what type of vessel you plan to operate. You must be age 10 or older (accompanied by an adult) to operate a boat.

New York State requires certain boat operators to have a boating safety certificate. New York and most other states do not require a "license" to operate your personal recreational boat.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash
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If you plan on driving a boat professionally, you will likely need to get a license from New York State.

There are licenses for operating a boat on a professional level such at sightseeing or charter fishing or even commercial work boats such as tug and ferries.

Boating safety certificates can be acquired by successfully finishing a New York State Safe Boating Classroom Course. There is a new law, Brianna's Law, that will eventually require all New Yorkers to get take a safety course.

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
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For motor boats:

Photo by Jeena Paradies on Unsplash
Photo by Jeena Paradies on Unsplash
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- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2020.

- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2022.

- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2023.

- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2024.

All operators of motorized vessels, regardless of age, will need a boating safety certificate by January 1, 2025

For personal watercrafts:
You must have a state issued boating safety certificate and be age 14-years-old or older in order to operate a JetSki, Wave Runner or other type of personal water craft.

Photo by Jamin Eyes on Unsplash
Photo by Jamin Eyes on Unsplash
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For other boats:

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
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If you plan to operate any of the following, you do not need to have a boating safety certificate,

- sailboats
- kayaks
- standup paddleboards
- rowboats
- canoes
- any other watercraft without a motor

Do You Need To Have A Boating Safety Certificate To Rent A Boat

Photo by Johnny killroy on Unsplash
Photo by Johnny killroy on Unsplash
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Persons may rent and operate a motor boat from a livery without first obtaining a boating safety certificate.

You can find more information about boating safety and courses here.

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