Send To A Friend

Boating Links

South Carolina Boating Courses
Safety Education Requirements

Age and Education Requirements

South Carolina state law requires boaters under 16 years of age to pass an approved boater education course before operating, without supervision, a personal watercraft (jet ski) or a boat powered by a 15 horsepower motor or more.

This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for all those who share the water.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Boater Education Program teaches the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. You can complete the course in one of three ways: take a six (6) hour classroom course which is preferred, take the course online or take it via the home-study program by watching a video tape.


The Boating Education Requirement is Waived for:

  • Anyone who is 16 years old or older.
  • Anyone who is under 16 if they are accompanied by an adult 18 or over..
  • Non-residents who are under 16, if they possess a valid boater's education certificate from their home state or if they are accompanied by an adult 18 or older.

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.
  • South Carolina'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.

Classroom Courses are offered for a minimal fee. You can find availability for these classes on South Carolina's Boating Course Calendar.

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 South Carolina, you must also be aware of the rules in the states where you plan on boating. A data base of all courses approved by the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) can be found here.

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