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All motorboat operators using a motor of 10 horsepower or greater (including boats documented by the U.S. Coast Guard) and also personal watercraft operators (i.e. jet ski) are affected by the new law. Sailboat operators do not have to meet the requirement unless the sailboat has a motor that is 10 hp or greater (whether or not the engine is running). A canoeist does not have to meet the requirement, nor does a kayaker, a rower, or operator of other manually propelled craft.
When Must I Get My Boating Safety Certificate? The requirement for boating safety education is phased-in over several years according to the following schedule:
- All PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators 30 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2012
- All motorboat operators, regardless of age, shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2016
How Do I Comply With this New Law? A person shall be considered in compliance with the requirement for boating safety education if he/she meets one or more of the following provisions:
- Completes and passes a boating safety education course that is approved by NASBLA and accepted by the Department
- Passes an equivalency exam
- Possesses a valid license to operate a vessel issued to maritime personnel by the United States Coast Guard or a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator's Card
- Possesses a temporary operator's certificate
- Possesses a rental or lease agreement from a motorboat rental or leasing business, which lists the person as the authorized operator of the motorboat. The person must also completed the Dockside Safety Checklist
- Operates the motorboat under direct supervision on board 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 registered as a commercial fisherman pursuant to the Code of Virginia or is under the on-board direct supervision of the commercial fisherman while operating the commercial fisherman's boat
How Do I Prove I Completed and Passed a Course? Boaters that must comply with the new education standards must be able to present to the officer a card or certificate that indicates you have passed a NASBLA approved boating course or that you have passed the equivalency exam.
What if I am Only Visiting Virginia? You must demonstrate that you are not a resident of Virginia, that you are temporarily using the water of Virginia for a period of 90 days or less (your boat is registered in another state as the “state of principal use”), and that you meet any applicable boating safety education requirements of your state of residency.
Is there a Minimum Age to Operate? For a personal watercraft, the minimum operator age is 14 and operators must complete and pass a boating safety course before they can operate. For a motorboat, there is no minimum operator age and there is no minimum age requirement to attend a NASBLA approved boating safety course. Youngsters can operate a boat under direct supervision of a person who meets the boating safety education requirement.
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF) supports NASBLA approved boating courses. Information on a classroom course near you can be found by calling DGIF at (804) 367-1000 or visit the BoatUS Foundation's Courseline to look up classes in your area.
How Do I Get My Certificate?
1. After you complete the course you will be issued a printable copy of your certificate that you can print yourself and use immediately.
2. You will also have the option of ordering a Virginia Division of Natural Resources approved, waterproof plastic card for $13. Please allow 2-3 weeks for your card to arrive.
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Great course, and so much more convenient than going at night for several nights... Keep up the great work, and see you on the water.Gene
Thank you so much! This was a great course and I learned so much. Hope you have a great weekend!Lindsay
Thank you. The information that you gave me allowed me to complete the course. Your assistance was very much appreciated.D. White
Thank you so much! You folks are so kind. Good luck with the updates and have safe boating fun this summer!Brennan