Like any motor vehicle, operating a boat is a big responsibility. At a glance, driving a boat may seem simpler than driving a car because you typically aren’t dealing with much traffic, but there are a lot of other factors to consider. Weather, water conditions, navigation rules, anchoring, and special laws only begin the list of challenges for new boaters. That’s why many states, including Florida, now require a license or proof of safety course completion to operate a boat.

How do you get a Florida boating license?

In the state of Florida, a Boating Safety Education Identification Card is required to operate any motorboat of at least ten horsepower for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988. To acquire that card, you’ll need to pass a a Florida-approved boating safety course. Upon completion of that course, you’ll be able to get the Boating Safety Education Identification Card from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Technically, Florida does not require a “license”, but the Boating Safety ID Card serves the same purpose. Boaters must also have a valid photo ID on hand while operating a boat. Not having your Boating Safety ID Card with you while operating a boat will result in a fine.

What courses can you take to get a Boating Safety Education ID Card?

Fortunately, there are many classes, both in person and online, that are approved by the state of Florida that allow you to earn your Safety ID Card. Most courses cost between $10 and $30, however there are a few free options available.

For younger folks seeking an opportunity to learn the skills and certifications that will allow them to operate a boat and hunt in Florida, a free Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education Course is available for residents ages 12-18.

The boating community is a huge part of the Florida lifestyle, and it’s important that those on the water have the proper education and training before getting behind the wheel of their vessel.