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Illinois Boating Courses
Safety Education Requirements

Age and Education Requirements

No one under the age of 10 years old is permitted to operate a motor boat in Illinois. Illinois state law requires boaters between the ages of 10 and 12 to be accompanied by and under the direct supervision of an adult when operating a motorboat on Illinois waterways. In Illinois, no one under the age of 12 is permitted to operate a motorized water vessel on their own unless they have successfully completed the Required Boating Safety Course.

Illinois state law requires boaters who are at least 12 years old and not yet 18, to possess a boater's education card before taking to the water on their own in Illinois. The card is earned by successfully completing an approved Boating Safety Education Course.


The Boating Education Requirement is Waived for:

  • Boaters18 years old and older
  • Non-residents between 12 and 18 years old, who hold an approved Boater Education Card / Certificate from another state.

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.
  • Illinois' 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 current schedule of classes offered in Illinois.

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 Illinois, 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.