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Boater Education FAQ's

What is Oregon's Mandatory Boater Education Law?

Oregon's Mandatory Boater Education law was passed by the 1999 Oregon Legislature with implementation beginning in 2001.  There is no Grandfather clause in the law. The following information answers commonly asked questions about the program.

This law requires boaters to take a course on basic boating skills and/or pass a test to demonstrate basic boating knowledge. Upon passing a test, the boater needs to apply for a boater education card which s/he must carry when operating a power boat more than 10 hp.

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Why is this law necessary?

Safety is the primary concern to reduce accidents, injuries, deaths and property damage, and to reduce conflict on the state's increasingly congested waterways. There are more variables on the water than on highways; for example, weather, waves, tides or currents. The number of registered Oregon boats has doubled since 1970. There are greater varieties of craft, faster and more powerful, and many are operated by inexperienced boaters. More than 90 percent of all motorized accidents are in power boats more than 10 horsepower.

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Who is affected?

  • All Oregon residents operating a power boat greater than 10 horsepower, and youth 12 and over operating any size powerboat, must carry a boater education card.
  • Youths must be 12 or older to obtain a boater education card. Youths 11 or younger may not operate any power boat.
  • A person age 12-15 who possesses a boater education card may operate a boat of 10 hp or less without an adult on board.
  • A person age 12-15 who possesses a boater education card may operate a boat of greater than 10 hp if accompanied by an adult 16 or older who also possesses a boater education card. If operating a PWC, the card holding adult must be 18 or older.
  • A person age 16 and older will need a boater education card to operate a power boat greater than 10 horsepower, including PWC.

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Is anyone exempt from needing a boater education card?

Yes. Exemptions apply to:

  • Out-of-state and foreign visitors: If they will be boating in Oregon for less than 60 days or hold a boater education card from another state.
  • Boaters with a current Coast Guard Boat Operator License: Boaters such as guides and barge operators who hold a current Coast Guard Boat Operator License are exempt from the requirement.
  • Commercial Fisherman: Boaters who hold a current commercial fishing license do not have to carry a boater education card when operating recreationally but do need to carry their commercial license or documentation. (ORS 830.092(2))
  • Non-certified, supervised adults: The law allows a non-certified adult to operate a power boat IF under direct supervision of an adult 16 or older who is carrying a boater education card. If operating a PWC, the card holding adult must be 18 or older.
  • Boat Buyers: Buyers with a temporary certificate of number are exempt, for up to 60 days.
  • Boat Renters: Renters will be exempt, but must complete a watercraft rental safety checklist.

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What are my options for getting boating safety training?

There are currently three options:

  • Classroom Course: Boating safety classroom courses are offered by several different organizations, including the Oregon State Marine Board, U.S. Power Squadron and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Community Colleges, law enforcement officials and other public safety officials will also offer courses. There are other courses offered by private providers that may also be allowed as long as the course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and by the Oregon State Marine Board.
  • Internet Course: Anyone with access to the Internet can take one of the approved online courses. To access approved courses, go to the Oregon State Marine Board website at www.boatoregon.com/BoatingEducation.
  • Equivalency Exam: This proctored exam is designed for the experienced boater who knows the rules and regulations for safe boating in Oregon waters. Not only does the experienced boater need to know about power boating, but will need basic knowledge about personal watercraft and sailboats. It is recommended that even experienced boaters request the publication, "Boat Oregon-A Course on Responsible Boating" and study it before scheduling an appointment to take the exam. Call the Marine Board for more information on test locations and times.

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Course Materials

Where do I get the book?
Boat Oregon -A course on Responsible Boating, is the Marine Board's Classroom course book.  This book will help you study for any course option you choose (classroom, equivalency exam, or Internet).
Copies are available at the Marine Board office or your local county sheriff's office for FREE. Due to the cost of shipping, we do charge a $4 mailing fee if you would like a copy mailed to you.  It's $1 for each additional copy.
If you would like Boat Oregon mailed to you, please send us a check or money order to:
Oregon State Marine Board
P.O. Box 14760
Salem, OR 97309

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What will it cost the boater?

A one-time fee of $10 for the boater education card. Funds go into the boater education program, for technical processing equipment, education material, and producing the education card.
Depending on which course option you choose, boaters may pay for classroom material or room rentals. Costs are usually minimal when taking a volunteer-sponsored class.

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Can I use the course completion certificate that I got years ago?

Yes, as long as you have the course completion certificate or diploma, you are qualified to apply for your Oregon boater education card.

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How do I apply to get my boater education card?

If you took an approved home study course prior to 2001 or have completed a Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron or other approved course, or one of the approved Internet courses, you will need to fill out an official application form, and send it into the Marine Board along with $10 and a copy of one of the following:
  • A certificate of completion issued to you by an approved boating safety course provider. It can be a certificate from the Marine Board home study course (completed before December 31, 2000), an approved classroom course or approved Internet course; or
  • A certificate, card or other official document issued to you by a proctor stating that you passed the equivalency exam with a score of 70% or better; or
  • A certificate, card or other official document issued by another state or Canada that is equivalent to Oregon's boater education card.
  • A Coast Guard motorboat operator license, either valid or expired.

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Where can I get an application for my card?

Application forms are available at the Marine Board office, County Law Enforcement offices, boat registration agents, many sporting goods stores and boat and boat supply dealers and on our website.

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How do I apply to get a Replacement Card?

The fee for a replacement boater education card is $8.
If you need to replace a boater education card because your original card was: lost, stolen, destroyed, or your name changed, please send the following information to osmb.boatereducation@state.or.us :

1. Full Name
2. Date of Birth
3. Mailing Address
    City, State, Zip Code
4. Daytime Phone Number
5. E-mail Address

Marine Board staff will look up your card number and will e-mail, fax OR mail you a replacement form. Fill out the form, mail the original back to us, and keep a copy for yourself!
You must carry your copy of the form with you while operating your boat, until your new card arrives in the mail. 
If you do not receive your new card in the mail within 4 weeks, contact the Education Section at 503-378-8587.

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Insurance Savings

By taking a boating safety course, you help ensure our waterways are the safest they can be.  Not to mention, completing a course may reduce your boat insurance 10 - 15%! Be sure to ask your insurance agent.

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Note to Boaters

If you have applied for, and not received your boater education card within 60 days, call the Marine Board at 503-378-8587 and ask for the Education Section.
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