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Georgia Boating Courses
Safety Education Requirements

Age and Education Requirements

If you are under 12 years of age you may legally operate a boat less than 16' long if it is powered by a motor with less than 30 horsepower and a competent adult is with you.

  • If you're 12 to 16 years old, you may legally operate a non-motorized boat less than 16' long with no restrictions.
  • You may legally operate a boat on your own if the boat is less than 16' long and it's powered by a motor with less than 30 horsepower or if it's a Personal Watercraft (PWC) with these restrictions:
    • You must have proof of completing an approved safe boating course
    • You must be under the direct supervision of a competent adult
    • You have a competent adult on board with you

If you're 16 or older, you may operate any boat on Georgia waters as long as you have some sort of government-issued identification with you.

If you're between 12 and 16 years old and you want to operate a small boat or PWC on your own in Georgia, you must successfully complete an approved boating safety course.

All boat operators have a responsibility to know about boat operations, rules of water navigation, communications and how to respond in emergencies. Boaters without boating safety education put themselves and others at risk.

Even if Georgia doesn't require boating education by law for your age group, you are encouraged to become educated by making the responsible choice. Taking a Boating Safety Course is essential for safe 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.
  • Georgia'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 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 with a score of 80% or better 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 Georgia, 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.