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Find a Boating Safety Course

Following are the various ways that you can take a boating safety course, including classroom, home study and online. Some have an associated cost, while others are free — find the one that suits you best and make sure you are safe on the water! Once you complete the course, the course completion certificate or card that is provided by the course provider is what is required to operate a vessel.

Classroom Courses

Classroom courses are provided by DWR, USCG Auxiliary and the US Power Squadrons. DWR’s Boat Virginia course is free of charge. The USCG Auxiliary and the US Power Squadrons may have a course fee.

A Virtual Classroom course is also available. This course differs from other online courses as it is free and is lead by an instructor in real time.

View the classroom course schedule

Courses with a fee or that are in a virtual setting will be clearly marked in the special instructions.

Online Courses

All online courses are provided by commercial vendors. They are NASBLA-approved and accepted by DWR, however, DWR does not administer these courses.

There are “timed” online courses and “interactive” online courses. The “timed” courses have timers on each page to ensure a minimum study time for the student. The “interactive” course utilizes games and other student activities to ensure minimum study time.

Both types of online courses are NASBLA approved and accepted by DWR.

Interactive Course:

Timed Course:

Home Study Course

  • If you do not have internet access and there is no classroom course near you, you may request a home-study course. Please call 804-367-9288 to request a home study course. Note, this option takes 4-6 weeks to complete.

Challenge Exam

If you are an experienced boater and have a good working knowledge of the navigation rules and Virginia boating laws, you may opt to take an 80-question challenge exam. These exams will be scheduled throughout Virginia. The exam is closed book, no reference material is allowed in the examination room. Virginia’s Boater’s Guide or other online study material may be utilized to prepare for the exam. We do not offer a study guide. If you cannot find an exam site close to you, please contact 804-367-9288.

Boating Workshops and Seminars (do not meet Virginia’s Education Requirement)

If you would like to learn more about boating, please check out the workshops and seminars offered by local United States Power Squadrons, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Safe Boating Council, and other boating organizations. These workshops are short 2–3 hour seminars, workshops, and online courses. There may be a small fee associated with some course — be sure to read course description. Please note: workshops listed here do not meet Virginia’s education requirement.