For Immediate Release: 6/28/2022

Division of Boating and Waterways Reminds Boaters of California Law to Obtain and Carry a California Boater Card

Adeline Yee, Information Officer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) reminds California boaters of the requirement to obtain and carry a California Boater Card when boating on state inland and coastal waterways. Applying for one is a simple process, it costs $10 and lasts a lifetime. Operators who are not in compliance with the law and caught operating a vessel without their California Boater Card will be cited accordingly. This is considered an infraction and base fines can range anywhere from $100 – $500.

U.S. Coast Guard boating accident data show that states with some form of boating safety education have fewer accidents and fatalities than states without any boater education requirements. California is one of the last states to implement a mandatory boating education requirement. The law is being phased-in by age. By Jan. 1, 2023, all boaters 50 years of age or younger must carry a card. All boaters, regardless of age, will need to carry one by Jan. 1, 2025. The card is verification that its holder has successfully taken and passed an approved boating safety education course. It is important to note there are exemptions to the law. For example, those operating a rental vessel or possessing a valid marine operator’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard do not need to obtain a California Boater Card. To date, DBW has issued more than 143,000 cards.

“It’s not just novice boaters that benefit from this education program by learning the boating rules of the road,” said DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Even experienced boaters find that a boating safety course can help them improve their boating knowledge and stay up to date with current boating laws.”

Applying for a California Boater Card is a simple process. Boaters can complete their application by visiting The card only costs $10 and lasts a lifetime. Boaters have an option to complete an online, classroom or a home study course. Boaters only need to complete one of the approved courses. Once DBW has received your application, proof of education and payment, you will receive a 90-day temporary boater card by email. You should receive your official boater card by mail within 30 days from the time the application was approved.Detailed information on the process and information on available boating safety courses is available online at A toll-free telephone support line is also available at (844) 421-8333.

Photos from Division of Boating and Waterways.
Photos from Division of Boating and Waterways.

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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.