So you just acquired a new or used boat. If youâ€™re completely new to boating, you probably have a bunch of questions. If you bought the boat from a marine dealer, he/she can answer most of your questions. If you bought it from a private seller, donâ€™t rely on that personâ€™s knowledge of what youâ€™re required to do. Here are answers to questions most newbies ask:
Maybe. But first, get it insured if itâ€™s a boat (and trailer) of some value. As with an auto, you want to take care of that before you leave the seller.
If your boat is powered by a motor (that includes a rowboat or kayak powered by an electric motor), youâ€™ll need to register your boat in the state in which you live. Some states (i. e. Pennsylvania) require registration of all boats, whether powered or not.
Registration is different from a boating license, and itâ€™s something youâ€™ll have to renew annually, as with an auto. Do a search under the name of your state and â€śboat registrationâ€ť to get started, and make sure that you have the old title from the seller as well as a bill of sale.
A boat license is a one-time requirement. You may have already acquired one in the past, or you can obtain it before ever purchasing a boat.
Hereâ€™s where some confusion occurs. Itâ€™s not a boating license per se. In most states, you must take a boating safety education course, and successfully complete it, to be able to operate a boat. When you complete the course you receive a certificate (i.e the â€ślicenseâ€ť). That makes you legal. If the course was approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and recognized by the U. S. Coast Guard, itâ€™s good for life and qualifies you even if you move to another state.
In some states, it is not required that you take such a course, or the requirement may pertain only to people of a certain age. Find out where to take such a course and whatâ€™s required to operate a motorboat in your state. Online and in-person courses are available.
Or does your spouse or child need one to operate your boat? That depends on the state youâ€™re in. The answer is yes for many states, and in others it may only apply to young operators.
That depends on the other stateâ€™s laws. While each state recognizes the registration of another state, youâ€™ll have to follow its regulations for operating a boat, which may differ from the regulations in your home state. If you have a certificate from a boating safety education course, youâ€™ll be able to operate your boat (or someone elseâ€™s). But you will need a fishing license from that state to go fishing.