Before you hit the water, you should get your Florida boating license. The process of getting your boating license depends on your age. If you want to enjoy boating this year, make sure you take the time to read the process for how to get your Florida boating license below.
Step #1 - Understand What You Need
While many refer to it as a boating license, what you really need is a Boater Education Card. This card is mandatory for anybody wanting to operate a boat and born after January 1st, 1988. If you were born before 1988, it’s still recommended but you will not be required to get the Boater Education Card.
In addition, if you're under 14 years of age, you will not be able to operate a boat or any other personal vessel, even if you get the Boater Education Card. It's also important to know that the regulatory authority for the Boater Card is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Step #2 - Taking the Boater Education Course
To get your Boater Education Card, you will need to complete an approved boater education course in Florida. The course must be approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Your other option is to pass an approved equivalency test.
The boater education course will teach you about boat operations and maintenance, along with the legal requirements for boating in Florida. In addition, you will learn how to handle boating emergencies. This course was created to ensure boaters can enjoy the water, while remaining safe.
You can choose from the following ways to complete the boater education course in Florida:
- Choose from 12 FWC approved online courses
- Choose one of the approved classroom options offered by the United States Power Squadron or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or several online options.
- Take the home study course provided by the U.S. Power Squadrons or from the FWC
If you choose to take the classroom option, you will need to attend one eight hour session or 12 evening sessions offered. The class offered from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary charges $50.
Here is the link to the free BoatUS online course: http://www.boatus.org/florida/
Those choosing the home study course will be given free course materials from most providers. Some do charge a small fee and the course may take up to eight hours to complete.
All boater education courses require you to take an exam and get at least 80% of the answers to pass the course. When you do pass, you will get a temporary card while you wait for your Boater Education Card.
Step #3 - Sending in your Information
After you've completed the course, you will need to send in the certificate of completion, along with your name, address, phone number and date of birth. It must be sent to the Division of Law Enforcement, Boating Safety Section, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida, 32399.
You won't need to renew your Boater Education Card. However, if you ever need a replacement card, you will need to send the same information from Step #3 to the same address.