In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law to establish a boating safety education compliance requirement. The requirement for boating safety education is phased-in over several years and applies to all Personal Watercraft (PWC)* operators and operators of boats with motors of 10hp and greater according to the following schedule:
- PWC operators between the ages of 16 and 20 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2009, operators ages 14 or 15 may operate a PWC if they have successfully completed an approved boating education safety course;
- PWC operators 35 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2010;
- PWC operators 50 years of age or younger and motorboat operators 20 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2011;
- All PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators 30 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2012;
- 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 requirements by July 1, 2016.
* Please note, a Personal Watercraft, PWC, more commonly known as a Ski-Doo® (Bombardier Recreational Products), Waverunner® (Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA), and JET SKI® (Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA), are defined as motorboats less than 16 feet in length that are powered by jet pumps, not propellers, where the persons stand, kneel, or sit on, rather than inside the boat.
If you have taken a boating safety course, but have misplaced your course completion certificate, find out about obtaining a replacement card.
A person can also meet the education requirements by meeting one of the following requirements:
- Passes an equivalency/challenge exam;
- Possesses or once possessed a valid license to operate a vessel issued to maritime personnel by the United States Coast Guard
- Possesses a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card;
- Possesses a temporary operator’s certificate as indicated on new boat registration;
- Possesses a rental or lease agreement and training documentation as issued by a motorboat rental or leasing business;
- Operates the motorboat under onboard direct supervision of a person who meets the compliance requirement;
- Operates a boat not registered in Virginia, temporarily using the waters of Virginia for a period not to exceed 90 days, and meets any applicable boating safety education requirements of the state of residency;
- Has assumed operation of the motorboat due to the illness or physical impairment of the initial operator, and is returning the motorboat to shore in order to provide assistance or care for the operator;
- Is or once was registered as a commercial fisherman pursuant to the Code of Virginia or is under the onboard direct supervision of the commercial fisherman while operating the commercial fisherman’s boat.
- Provides documentation that he is serving or has qualified as a surface warfare officer or enlisted surface warfare specialist in the United States Navy.
- Provides documentation that he is serving or has qualified as an Officer of the Deck Underway, boat coxswain, boat officer, boat operator, watercraft operator, or Marine Deck Officer in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, United States Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine.