The California Boater Card shows that its holder has successfully taken and passed a NASBLA*/state-approved boater safety education examination. The California Boater Card program is phased-in by age for operators of motorized boats on state waterways (see phase-in schedule below). As of January 1, 2023, the card is required for operators 50 years of age or younger. START YOUR APPLICATION HERE.
By 2025, all persons who operate on California waters will be required to have one. The lifetime card fee is $10. The lost card replacement fee is $5.
The card is issued by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). 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.
California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b) contains the following phase-in schedule based on operator age:
- January 1, 2018 – Persons 20 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2019 – Persons 25 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2020 – Persons 35 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2021 – Persons 40 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2022 – Persons 45 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2023 – Persons 50 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2024 – Persons 60 years of age or younger
- January 1, 2025 – All persons regardless of age
+California age restrictions for operating a motorized vessel: According to California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 658.5, NO person under 16 years of age may operate a boat with a motor of more than 15 horsepower, except for a sailboat that does not exceed 30 feet in length or a dinghy used directly between a moored boat and the shore (or between two moored boats).
*National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)
For information on mandatory boating education requirements for each state, click here.