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North Carolina Boating License

North Carolina Boating License

In North Carolina, a boating "license" is known as a Boater Education Certification Card. Boating safety certification is required by law for North Carolina boaters who are less than 26 years of age. Even if it's not required for you, becoming certified by completing a boating safety education course is strongly encouraged.


Possessing a North Carolina Boating Education Card is waived for:

  • Those who possess a U.S. Coast Guard operator's license,
  • Those who hold a temporary operator's certificate,
  • Anyone who is 26 years old or older,
  • Non-residents under 26 who possess a valid boater's education certificate from their home state.

Your Boating License

If you're less than 26 years old, your North Carolina Boater's Education Certificate will allow you to legally operate a boat or personal watercraft with a motor greater than nine (9) horsepower on your own on North Carolina waters.

How to Obtain Your Boat Operator's Certification in North Carolina

You can earn your North Carolina Boater Education Certificate by successfully completing the boating safety education course in one of two ways:

  • Upon successfully completing a free classroom course taught by an officer of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC),   your wallet-sized certificate will mail be mailed to you.

  • Upon successfully completing an online course, NCWRC will be notified and your Boater's card will come to you in the mail. In the meantime, you can print your temporary certificate from your printer once you pass the exam and pay the fee. (Online Course Fees vary between $29.95-$39.95)

Please verify the costs associated with the online course before choosing the course that works best for you.

Click here to see an overview of the course content.

If You Lose your Boat Operator's Certificate /License

If you need a replacement Boater Education certification card for a course taken in N.C. please email your request, along with the needed information to

If you completed Boater Education through one of our online partners you must contact the service provider for the course for a replacement card (i.e. Most online course providers allow you to print a duplicate card at no charge.

Required Information:

Full Name*
Date of Birth
Current Mailing Address
Address of where you lived when you took the course.

*Please Note: If your name has changed, please provide your name at the time the class was taken under.


North Carolina accepts Licenses / Certificates / Cards issued by those states whose courses meet the minimum requirements set by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Most states with a mandatory boater education requirement will accept a North Carolina Boat Operatorís Card / Certification.

NOTE: Since some states require all boat operators to carry proof of having passed a NASBLA approved boating course and since the North Carolina-issued card never expires, you might want to keep your card regardless of your age.