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Iowa’s Boater Safety Education Program

Iowa has joined more than 40 states with educational requirements for operating a boat or PWC on state waters. Iowa and many other states have taken this initiative to keep the waters safe and clean. A great day out on the water includes safety.

Boating Course

You must complete an Iowa-approved boating license course to satisfy Iowa's educational boating law requirements. Get Safe and get certified. It's the law here in Iowa.


Persons at least 12 years old but less than 18 years old may operate a motorboat over ten horsepower or personal watercraft (PWC) if they complete a boater education course and possess a Boater Education Certificate approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Even if not required by law to get the Iowa boating license, many boaters take the boat safety course to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

 Age Restrictions

The minimum age to take the online boat safety exam is 12 years of age.

Reciprocity and Enforcement

All states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. This is known as “reciprocity.” In Iowa, law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry Your Card

Operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by any enforcement officer. The penalty for not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine. To find out which courses are approved, the Certification Exam and the application for the Boater Education Card visit for accurate and current information.

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