Do out-of-state boaters need a license to drive a boat in Florida?

With more than 900,000 boat owners in the state, Florida is often considered the boating capital of the US. Whether you’re visiting Florida for vacation or moving here permanently, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing some activities that involve some sort of vessel.

For those not born-and-raised in Florida, that can raise some questions on what is and is not required for a tourist or transplants. Do you need to pass Florida boater education courses? Do you need a Florida boating license? Do out-of-state boating licenses allow you to operate a boat legally?

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To answer these questions simply, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that out-of-state boaters must comply with Florida’s boater safety education requirements, which means that you should be carrying a Florida Boating Safety Education Identification card.

However, if you have completed a boater safety course or exam that is deemed equally or more difficult than Florida’s and you have proof of that in the form of a certificate or card, that would suffice as a temporary permit.

If you’re moving to Florida permanently, however, we recommend you get a Florida Boating Safety ID Card rather than using an out-of-state certificate.

For those visiting Florida looking to rent a boat and not just operate one, there are a separate set of rules. In this scenario, you’ll need a temporary certification, which is issued by vendors around the state.

Also Read: Is it legal to drink on a boat in Florida?

To earn a temporary certification, you’ll need to pass an exam intended to ensure you have the information required to operate a boat in Florida. This exam is currently offered online by You can get started with the exam here:

For those new to Florida, The Mariner is your go-to resource for everything boating. Whether you’re seeking new or used boats, boating equipment, or dock space, we have what you’re looking for. Browse our classified ads to see what’s for sale.