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What are the basic boater education requirements for Washington and British Columbia?

Posted by on January 3, 2013

Washington:  Washington State has mandatory boater education requirements.

    No person under 12 years old may operate a boat with 15 horsepower or more.

    The following rule will be phased in beginning 1/1/2008:  All persons operating a boat with 15 horsepower or more must have completed a boating safety course approved by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and must have a boater education card.  The phase-in periods are as follows:

 January 1, 2008:  All operators 20 years and younger.

January 1, 2009:  All operators 25 years and younger.

January 1, 2010:  All operators 30 years and younger.

January 1, 2011:  All operators 35 years and younger.

January 1, 2012:  All operators 40 years and younger.

January 1, 2013:  All operators 50 years and younger.

January 1, 2014:  All operators 60 years and younger.

Exceptions:  The following chart is copied from the website of the Washington State Parks Commission.  Please visit that website for more information.

Persons Exempt from Washington State boater education requirements:

 

Group Exemption
People born before 1/1/1955    No card needed.
Operators of commercial fishing boats    When operating a recreational vessel must have valid commercial license or Boating Safety Education Card.
Operators with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) marine operator license    When operating a recreational vessel must have valid USCG operator license or Boating Safety Education Card.
Operators of exempt vessels    When operating a recreational vessel must have Boating Safety Education Card.
Operators of rented, leased or chartered vessels When operating a livery vessel, must have a copy of the Commission-approved educational checklist in lieu of Boating Safety Education Card.
An operator who is a resident of another state or country Does not need card for first 60 consecutive days. After this must have Washington Boater Education Card.
An operator who is a resident of another state or country who has a valid card from that state or country Does not need card for first 60 consecutive days. After this must have Washington Boater Education Card.
A person purchasing a vessel For the first 60 days after purchasing a vessel, the bill of sale showing date of purchase is valid in lieu of a Washington Boating Education Card.
A person not yet required to have a card No card needed until date of phasing in. See above table on phase-in dates

To see options for Washington State boater education courses click here:  http://www.parks.wa.gov/boating/boatered/?subject=courseoptions

Canada:  Canada has mandatory boater competency requirements.

Except for non-residents operating a vessel in Canadian waters for less than 45 consecutive days, all persons operating a pleasure craft fitted with an engine must have proof of competency and proof of age on board at all times.  For Canadian residents this means possession of a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.  (PCOC).  For U.S. residents, this means you must have a state boater Card (even if you are exempt inside your State) if you will be in Canada waters for 45 days or more or if you plan to operate a Canadian licensed or registered vessel.  There is no age exemption in Canada.  For more information consult the Pleasure Craft Operator Card page.

Non-residents may prove competency as follows:

    Canada issued pleasure craft operator card.

    Completed boat rental safety check-list.

    An operator card or equivalent card that meets the requirement of their state or country.

 Persons under 12 years not directly supervised by someone 16 years or older may operate a recreational vessel with 10 HP or less.

Persons 12, 13, 14 & 15 not directly supervised by someone 16 years or older may operate a recreational vessel  with 40 HP or less.

Only persons 16 or over may operate a personal watercraft, regardless of supervision.

 There are subtantial federal and provincial fines for violations.

 To read the Canadian law, visit the Canada Department of Justice webpage.

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