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Alabama Boating Courses
Safety Education Requirements

Age and Education Requirements

Alabama state law requires every motorboat operator to be licensed before operating a boat on Alabama waters. The successful completion of a state-approved Boating Safety Education Course is required before you can become licensed.

No one under the age of 12 is permitted to operate a motorized vessel on Alabama waters.

Although boaters who are 12 or 13 years old must obtain their Boater Education Certificate, they may not operate a motorboat alone. A person at least 21 years old, who has their Boat Operator's license on their person, must be on board and in a position to take immediate control of the vessel, if necessary.

Any license holder who is 14 years old or older is permitted to operate a watercraft unaccompanied.

Non-residents who boat on Alabama waters more than 45 days per calendar year must take the course to get a non-resident boater's license.


The Boating Education Requirement is Waived for:

  • Short-term* out-of-state visiting boaters. (*use Alabama waterways less than 46 days per year)
  • Boaters born before April 28, 1954. (exempt from taking the course but must still get a boater's license).
  • Any holder of a valid USCG Motorboat Operator's License,
  • Anyone who has a valid certificate proving successful completion of one the following:
    • US Power Squadron Boating Course
    • USCG Auxiliary Boating Course
    • Alabama Marine Police Division-approved boating course, Boat Alabama, which is a classroom course.
    • State-Approved online boating course
  • Non-residents who hold a NASBLA approved boating education certification or license from their home state may use that in lieu of obtaining an Alabama Non-Resident Vessel Operator's license.

We strongly advise all boaters of all ages to take boating safety courses throughout their years of boating.

The Course

You can find many boaters’ education classes online. It's important that the course you choose meets the minimum standards set by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

These standards include but are not limited to:

  • Getting to Know Your Boat: Understanding Boat Capacities and Registration Requirements
  • Boat Safety Equipment: Personal Flotation Devices, Lighting, Distress Signals, Fire Extinguishers, etc.
  • Trip Planning and Preparation: Preventative Maintenance, Checking Hazards, Filing a Float Plan
  • The Marine Environment: Pollution Laws and Ways to Protect our Waterways
  • Safe Boat Operation: Operator Responsibilities, Navigation Rules and Aids,
  • Emergency Preparedness: Rendering Assistance, Handling Emergencies, Legal Responsibilities
  • Other Water Activities: Water Skiing, Fishing, Hunting etc.
  • Alabama's Boating Laws

Six to 13 lessons / units comprise most of the online boating courses. At the end of each lesson, a quiz is given. You must pass the quiz with a minimum score of 70% before going to the next unit.

You can also take the course in a classroom setting. Click Here for a sample schedule of classes offered in Alabama.

You must pass a final exam with a score of 80% or higher to receive the required boater's safety certificate.

Once you’ve successfully completed the Boating Safety Education Exam you must get your Certificate. To find out how click Vessel Operator's Certificate.

Continuing Education

As a boat operator you have a responsibility to keep up-to-date with new boating laws and safety information. In addition to knowing the changes in Alabama, you must also be aware of the rules in the states where you plan on boating. A data base of all courses approved by NASBLA can be found here.

Skills-based and/or advanced courses involving navigation, piloting, etc., are also available.