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Virginia Boating License

Virginia Boating License

All boaters whose age falls within the age requirement set by state law as outlined in the phase-in schedule are required to obtain and carry a boater's safety card. As of July 1, 2012, all PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators 30 years of age or younger are required to meet the boating education requirements by successfully completing a boating safety course before operating a vessel on Virginia waterways.

By July 1, 2016, all boat operators must successfully complete an approved Boater Safety Course Requirement before obtaining a Boating Certificate in Virginia.  Click Here  for Virginia Boating Education Requirements.

On July 1, 2011, Virginia began its phase-in of the Education Compliance Requirement for all Virginia boaters. The phase in will continue as follows:

  • Motorboat operators 40 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2013.
  • Motorboat operators 45 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2014.
  • Motorboat operators 50 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2015.

All motorboat operators, regardless of age, shall meet the boater education safety requirements by July 1, 2016.

Your Boating License

Although it gives you “license” to legally operate a boat on Virginia waters, Virginia does not refer to the boater's certificate as a boating license. Regardless, most states will accept an out-of-state card if it is the result of passing a NASBLA approved course.

How to Obtain Your Boat Operator's Certification in Virginia

Upon successfully completing an approved boater safety education course, you will be issued a lifetime boater safety education card, which you must carry with you whenever operating a vessel on Virginia waters.

The exact procedure, time frame and costs are determined by the course provider of the course you successfully complete.

For example, upon completing an approved online course and paying the course fee, you'll be able to print a temporary certificate from your computer. This certificate will allow you to operate a vessel legally on Virginia waters until your permanent card arrives. Remember to always carry your card with you when operating a boat.

A durable, lifetime boater education credit-card-styled card is now available for $10.00.

If You Lose your Boat Operator's Certificate /License

The exact procedure for obtaining a duplicate boater's card, time frame and costs are determined by the course provider of the course you successfully complete.

If the course was a classroom course provided by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries The request for a duplicate card must be in writing to include your full name, address at the time of course completion, birth date, telephone and e-mail (in case we need to contact your regarding your request), and current mailing address.

You may fax your request to 804-367-0262 or

You may mail your request to:

Virginia Boating Safety Education, Replacement Card
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230

It could take up to 30 days to fulfill your request.

If the course was provided by the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadrons, contact them to see if their records will allow the issuance of a replacement document.

Internet course students should check with your original course provider. Many of these providers will allow you to print a temporary card on the spot.


Virginia 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 Virginia Boat Operator’s Card / Certification.

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