Boating Safety

Do You Need a License to Drive a Jet Ski?

Boating season brings people of all ages dashing to the waterfront. Many of which may be excited to get on a Personal Watercraft (PWC), whether it be a Jet Ski, WaveRunner, or other. Before you jump on a PWC, ask yourself this: Do you have a license? If the answer is no, you can’t legally drive a PWC on U.S. waters.

Boating laws can be confusing and understanding which apply to PWCs can be even more perplexing! Although most people wouldn’t consider a PWC a boat, by law, they are. PWCs are considered small vessels that use an inboard jet as the primary source of propulsion.

PWCs can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than larger vessels. In 2019, they were responsible for 19% of all boating accidents that included 660 casualties. It is imperative to know how to safely operate these vessels when sharing the waterway with larger boats. Taking the boater safety course required to get your boating license will help you understand how to navigate the waters safely.

Jet Ski education is included in your state’s NASBLA- approved boating safety course. Each state has its own jet-ski license requirements that are typically determined by age. Most state requirements are determined by:

  • Vessel type
  • Vessel length
  • Operator and Passenger Age

Some state have specific PWC requirements in addition to requiring a boating license or a boater card. These may include:

  • Using an ignition safety switch.
  • Operating a PWC only during certain times of day.
  • Boating at or above a certain age when riding or being towed by a PWC.
  • Wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device while not allowing inflatables.

It is necessary to understand the PWC laws in your area before you head out. You can see all of your state PWC laws here. Even if your state doesn’t require boater education, your insurance company might, so that will be important to know.

Taking the ilearntoboat course before you head out on the water will ensure that you understand how to drive your PWC safely legally. This fun interactive course will save you time as it is the only course without timers! Most importantly, the real-life situations and role-playing simulations in this course will help you understand how to stay safe while you’re having fun!