New York State Harbormaster & Bay Constable Association
Boating Courses

New York State law requires young people from age 10 to 18 to earn a safety
certificate and have it with them when operating a power boat alone. All persons age
14 and up must have one to operate a personal watercraft.
  • Courses are available throughout the state.
  • You must register for a course by calling the contact number provided.
  • Some courses are taught free of charge by volunteer instructors.
  • Some courses are taught for a fee. The fees may vary from course to course.
  • When registering, you should inquire about fees, hours, sessions, etc.

The New York Safe Boating Course
A safety certificate may be obtained by completing the New York Safe Boating
Course, sponsored by the Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. The
course is designed as a comprehensive boating course, teaching the fundamentals
of safe boating operation. Approved by the National Association of Boating Law
Administrators, the course requires a minimum of eight hours of classroom
instruction, and includes the following topics:

  • Accidents & Emergencies                        
  • Boat Operation
  • Boating Related Activities
  • Boats & Motors
  • Equipment
  • Fueling & Ventilation
  • Marine Environment
  • Navigation
  • Numbering & Registration
  • Personal Watercraft
  • Rules of the Road
  • Safe Loading & Powering


Volunteer instructors throughout the state teach the course free of charge. Other
providers may teach the New York Safe Boating Course for a fee. You should always
check while registering for a course if there is a fee involved.

Legal Requirements - Persons Required to Complete a Safety Course
You must hold a safety certificate if:

  • You operate a personal watercraft, regardless of your age, in New York State.
  • You wish to operate a motorboat and you are at least 10 years old and less
    than 18 years old.(including personal watercraft - Minimum age now 14)
  • If you are less 10 years old you may operate a motorboat (non-PWC) only if
    someone over 18 or someone between the ages of 10 and 18 who holds a
    safety certificate, is on board with you. Anyone may operate a personal
    watercraft if someone at least 18 years old is riding on the craft and they hold
    a safety certificate.

Alternate Certification
A boating safety certificate may also be obtained through the U.S. Coast Guard
Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron. For information on where to take their courses,
please call 1-800-336-BOAT.

A safety certificate issued to a resident of another state or country is acceptable
provided the certificate is carried while operating in New York State. Please note the
certificate must be issued by the state or country of residence, and should be
NASBLA approved.

Instructor Certification
New instructors are needed to teach the New York Safe Boating course to youths
and adults. New York State Parks & Recreation will provide the textbooks, lesson
plans and audio-visual materials, if you are willing to volunteer your expertise and
time. To become a State certified instructor you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Not have any convictions or pending charges relating to certain offenses.
  • Successfully complete an approved boating safety course.
  • Be able to demonstrate an ability to instruct by currently holding a NYS
    Teachers Certificate, teach. other professional courses, or assist in the
    instruction of other state certified courses.


For more information, or to begin the certification process, please call (518) 474-0445
For a full list of boater safety courses
being offered, go to
NYS Parks & Recreation Website