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Jet Ski License: Where is it Required and How to Get One?

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Jet ski license is something most water sport enthusiasts, especially first-time buyers know very little about, which isn’t at all surprising.

We at JetDrift have created this guide for you so that you can determine whether you need to get a jet ski license and if so, how and where to get it.

You would certainly want to know how a jet ski works and compare the various models with each other before buying one.

Also don’t miss to discover the owning costs you will have to count in addition to the purchase price!

Do You Need a License to Drive a Jet Ski?

Yes, you need a license to drive a jet ski in many states. Be aware that there is a requirement to be licensed in many states, but in others, there’s no requirement at all. It also depends on how old you are as to whether or not you have to take a safety course and licensing exam. But even if a jet ski license is not required in your state, it’s highly recommended that you get one anyway!

Whenever you’re out on the water, safety is critically important. Taking the exam before you hop on your jet ski can keep you and others safe and at the very least, it will save you time and money.

Facts About Jet Ski Licenses

Many people seem to be confused about the licensing requirements for a jet ski. Although a jet ski may not look like a boat, it is a type of watercraft and these are legally classified as boats. Therefore, jet skis are subject to the same laws as a 50-foot yacht!

In 2012, PWCs were involved in 19% of boating accidents, causing 770 fatalities. These tiny vessels are sharing the waterways with boats of all sizes and most are much larger. This is why it is so important that you know how to operate your jet ski safely and legally and why a PWC license is required in many states.

Over 40 states in the U.S. alone have established educational requirements that have to be met before you are allowed to operate a PWC or any recreational vessel on waters in that state.

Various law enforcement and boater safety agencies aggressively enforce these requirements to ensure that everyone out on the water can enjoy a safe experience.

You are required to follow the laws and regulations set forth in your state’s official boating license safety course. You also need to have your certificate of boater education with you when you’re on board your vessel because an enforcement agent may ask to see it.

The course includes a lot of text on safety, live-action videos and animations to vividly show you how to operate a jet ski safely. It also covers the rules that boaters are supposed to follow on the waterways to keep everyone safe.

Yours and your passengers’ safety is at stake here!

Do You Need a Boating License to Drive a Jet Ski?

Yes, you need a boating license to drive a jet ski, as there is no separate “jet ski license“ in the US. Instead, if you are required to be licensed on a jet ski, you have to take a boating safety course which is approved by NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators). To put it simply, you’ll need a boating license to drive a jet ski legally in many states!

Each state has its own set of requirements for who has to have a boating license before they are allowed to operate a jet ski and these are mostly determined by age.

Your state may also consider the following factors:

  • Type of vessel
  • Length of vessel
  • Driver’s license
  • Supervision of the license owner
  • Age of the supervised license owner

Aside from a boating certificate or license, there are additional requirements that apply to jet skis only in certain states:

If you do not abide by these requirements or do not have a license, you risk being fined by law enforcement.

If you receive multiple citations, it could result in a fine and being forced to take a boating safety course. By taking the course ahead of time you could save yourself time and money. But more importantly, it could prevent you from having an accident in which someone is injured.

The boating safety course of each state contains information on how to safely operate a jet ski. You will not only learn operation, but crucial mechanical information and proper maintenance as well.

Even if there is no requirement in your state that you obtain a license to operate your jet ski, your insurance company may require it. To find out more about how and where to obtain a PWC license, keep reading.

How to Get a Jet Ski License Online

Here are step-by-step instructions for getting a jet ski license online:

  • Select Your State: Choose the appropriate state and sign up for free. Boat-Ed developed printed materials for the U.S. Coast Guard’s boating license safety course and developed online boating safety courses that have been recognized and approved in over 40 states, as well as Canada’s boating safety agencies.

  • Take the Course Online: You can take the boating safety course on your computer, smartphone or tablet. The curriculum is fun, which makes it easier to learn boating safety.

  • Obtain Your Boating License: Once you pass the course, you’ll be that much closer to being able to take your jet ski out on the water. When you’ve successfully met all the educational requirements, your certificate or boater education card will arrive by mail.

Do You Need a License to Drive a Jet Ski in Florida?

Does Florida require a jet ski license?

Yes, you need a jet ski license to drive a jet ski in Florida, is you were born after January 1, 1988. According to the law: You are required to have boater safety education in Florida if you were born on or after January 1, 1988 and you intend to operate a motorized boat with 10 hp or more in the State of Florida.

Get Certified in 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Pay for, study and pass the online Official Florida Boating Safety Course.
  2. Print out your course completion document.
  3. You’re now ready to take your jet ski out on the water!

Boater Safety Requirements in Florida

The requirements of Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are that people born on or after January 1, 1988 must complete an FWC-approved boater safety course to be legally allowed to operate a vessel that is powered by a 10 hp motor or greater. The riders must carry their Boating Safety Education ID card issued by the FWC plus a photo ID while operating any boat or jet ski in Florida.

This Boating Safety Course has no minimum age requirements. You are not required to be a resident of the State of Florida to be eligible to take this course.

Get a New York Jet Ski License

Does New York require a jet ski license?

New York requires those 14 years old and older to pass a boating safety course if they intend to operate a jet ski. Children who are at least 10 years old that were born on or after May 1, 1996 who intend to operate another type of vessel unaccompanied must also pass a boating safety course.

Get certified in 3 easy steps:

  1. Pay for, study, and pass the online Official New York Boating Safety Course.
  2. Print out your course completion document.
  3. You’re now ready to take your jet ski out on the water!

Boater Education Requirements in New York

Anyone younger than 10 years of age must be accompanied on the vessel by someone at least 18 years of age who either has a current Boating Safety Certificate or who isn’t required to have one. Children under 14 years of age are not legally allowed to operate a jet ski in New York. Those who are 14 years old or older can legally operate a jet ski in New York if they have completed and passed an approved boater safety course. If they haven’t passed the boater safety course, they are required to be accompanied on board by someone of at least 18 years of age who has a current Boating Safety Certificate.

To be eligible to take this online course you must be 10 years old or older, however you are not required to be a resident of the State of New York.

Get a California Jet Ski License

Does California require a jet ski license?

California enacted a law on January 1, 2018 that requires all boaters in the state to carry with them a California Boater Card. This law is currently being phased in over an 8-year period.

Get certified in 3 easy steps:

  1. Study and successfully complete the Official California Boating Safety Course.
  2. Print out your Certificate of Completion.
  3. Obtain your California Boater Card.

California’s Requirements for Boater Safety

Since January 1, 2018, California’s Division of Boating & Waterways has required that all boaters carry with them their California Boater Card when on the waterways of California operating any type of recreational motorized vessel, which includes paddle crafts and powered sailboats. You can get your Card after completing and passing an approved boater education course. This requirement is currently being phased in over an 8-year period.

Requirements of California’s State Parks Division of Boating & Waterways

  • This online course is available to people of all ages with no minimum age requirement.
  • There is no requirement to be a resident of the State of California to take this course.

Get a New Jersey PWC License

Does New Jersey require a PWC license?

You may be required to have boater education if you intend to operate a motorized vessel in the State of New Jersey. Some people may also need to obtain a non-tidal boat license.

Get certified in 3 easy steps:

  1. Pay for, study and pass the online Official New Yersey Boating Safety Course.
  2. Complete all other requirements.
  3. You’re now ready to go boating!

Boater Education Requirements in New Jersey

Children under 13 years of age are not legally allowed to operate a motorized vessel on the waters of New Jersey. Teenagers between 13 and 16 years of age are allowed to operate a 12-foot vessel or longer with less than a 10 hp electric motor upon the successful completion of an approved boater safety course. Those 16 years old or older are required to complete and pass a boater safety course to legally operate a jet ski in New Jersey.

Requirements of New Jersey State Police

  • You must present a photo ID to be admitted into the in-person exam.
  • You must be 12 years of age or older to take this online course.
  • You are not required to be a resident of the State of New Jersey to take this course.

Requirements of Other States

For more information on whether a PWC license is required in other states, please visit Boat-Ed.com. 

FAQs About PWC Licenses

Do you need a license to rent a jet ski?

You’ll need a license to rent a jet ski in most rental shops. As rental shops have their own policies, they may require you to have a jet ski license even if the state doesn’t require it. The good news is that the majority of rental services offer a temporary certificate that you can obtain on-site. With this certificate, you can ride the rental jet skis legally!

How much is a jet ski license?

A jet ski license costs around $30-$40 depending on the provider and the state, as some states charge extra state fees. You can pay the fees conveniently online.

Do you need a license to rent a jet ski in Florida?

Yes, you need a jet ski license to rent a jet ski in Florida in many cases. This is because if you were born on or after January 1, 1988, you need a jet ski license to operate a jet ski legally in Florida. Additionally, keep in mind that rentals may require you to obtain a license even if it’s not mandatory for you. Finally, it always depends on your age and the rental policy.

Can you drive a jet ski without a license?

Yes, you can drive a jet ski without a license, if your state doesn’t require it. But even if you can drive without a license, it’s highly recommended you take the course, since it can help you to operate your jet ski with greater security, and more economically.

Do you need a license to own a jet ski?

No, you don’t need a license to own a jet ski, just like you don’t need a driver’s license to own a car. But if you want to ride the jet ski on public waterways, your state may require you to have a license. Also, be aware that it could be difficult to get jet ski insurance without a license. This is another reason why every owner should get a license!

Do you need a boating license to drive a jet ski?

Yes, you’ll need a boating license to drive a jet ski in most states, as currently there is no separate safety course for jet skis. If you need a license for a jet ski, it means you have to take a boating safety course. Also, note that the licensing requirements vary by state, so always check the laws in your state to stay legal!

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in Florida?

Yes, you need a license to drive a jet ski in Florida if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988. To be licensed for a jet ski in Florida, you have to complete a boating safety course, as there is no separate safety course for jet skis.  The jet ski license is the “Boating Safety Education Identification Card” in Florida.

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in New York?

Yes, you need a license to drive a jet ski in New York. To drive a jet ski legally in New York, you have to obtain a Boating Safety Card. It’s good to know that to take this course you don’t have to be a resident of NY, but you have to be at least 10 years old.

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in California?

Yes, you need a license to drive a jet ski in California. If you want to jet ski legally in California, you have to take a Boating Safety Course. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a resident of CA to obtain this course, and there is also no minimum age requirement to take it.

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in Texas?

You need a jet ski license in Texas if you’re born on or after September 1, 1993. To be licensed for a jet ski in Texas, you have to pass a boating safety course. To take this course, you have to be at least 13 years old, but you don’t have to be a resident of Texas.

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in Georgia?

You need a license to drive a jet ski in Georgia if you were born on or after January 1, 1998. To get a license for a jet ski in Georgia, you have to pass an online course, known as a “boating safety course“. To complete this course, you’ll need your GA DNR Customer ID. Anybody can take this course (no minimum age requirements) and even non-Georgia residents as well.

Do you need a license to drive a jet ski in North Carolina?

Yes, you need a jet ski license to drive a jet ski in North Carolina, if you were born on or after January 1, 1988. To get this license, you have to pass this approved boating safety course. There are no minimum requirements for this course, and even non-residents can take it.

Final Thoughts

Safety is first and foremost when you’re out on the water operating any type of vessel. This is why we strenuously recommend that anyone buying a jet ski obtain a PWC license, which is essentially proof that you’ve taken and passed a boating safety course.

In addition to your license, remember to get all the necessary safety equipment so that you can ensure everyone’s safety on the water.

If you are buying your first jet ski, remember to read our guide on the best jet ski models for beginners and the one outlining the most common mistakes of jet ski buyers.

If you are just entering the world of jet skis, we definitely recommend that you research everything before buying a jet ski.

If you have no experience at all with jet skis, you most definitely should start out by renting one for a few hours from a jet ski rental shop.

You can learn all the basics from the staff before you even head out for your first ride. They will also set you up with all the safety gear you’ll need. Many jet ski rental shops have a separate riding area for beginners with a supervisor on hand for your safety. You can also sign up for a guided jet ski tour.

We want you to stay safe while getting some jet ski riding experience. And we want you to have some experience before taking the plunge and buying your first jet ski.

For us, safety is paramount!

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