Mandatory Boater Education Law FAQs

Missouri's Boater Education Law went into effect January 1, 2005. The law states that any person born after January 1, 1984 must successfully pass a Missouri Boater Education class/test before operating any motorized vessel ON THE LAKES OF THE STATE.

Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division only charges a fee for the card. The current fee for a card is $15.00. We do not charge a fee for taking a course given by one of our instructors. The Water Patrol Division has entered into an agreement with Boat-Ed to offer a course and test on the Internet. They charge a course fee and give the option to purchase one of our cards through them. Water Patrol only receives the $15.00 fee for the cards. All other charges stay with Boat-Ed. Currently, Boat-Ed charges a separate fee to take their on-line course. Their charges are posted on the Boat-Ed website under our course. An additional charge of $15.00 is required in order to purchase a Missouri Boater Certification Card through Boat-Ed (plus a charge for processing credit card payments if you order the card). Taking the course via the Internet and Boat-Ed is the easiest way to obtain certification for most people.

Who is required to have a boater certification card?

The law states any person born after January 1, 1984 must successfully complete a NASBLA approved boating education course before operating any motorized vessel on Missouri lakes. The law went into effect for Missouri residents on January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2006 for non-Missouri residents.

What do I need to do to get my boater certification?

You need to take a NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) approved course. This includes courses given by the Missouri State Highway Patrol - Water Patrol Division, US Coast Guard, US Power Squadrons and Boat-Ed (an on-line boater education website). The Water Patrol Division currently offers classes around the state at various times and locations. You can find a listing of classes on our website at The classes are updated on a daily basis. If there isn't a course currently in your area, you can check with organizations like the US Power Squadron, US Coast Guard Auxiliary or go on-line to Boat-Ed at If you still cannot find a course in your area, please contact us Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm at (573) 751-3313.

Who can take the boater education course?

Anyone wanting to operate a boat should take a boater education course. There is no age limit on who can take the course; however, that person should be able to follow the course material and understand its meaning. Missouri law states the operator of a boat must be 14 years or older unless accompanied by an adult. Anyone born after January 1, 1984 also must carry their boater certification card and a photo ID.

How do I order a card by mail?

Send in a request form to Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division along with a check or money order (no cash or credit cards will be accepted). In the request, state your full name, home address (street, city, state, zip), date of birth, gender, phone number, where you took the course and when (approximate best you can), and who taught the course (Water Patrol Adult course, taught in school by a Water Patrol officer, Coast Guard class, etc.). You should receive your card approximately 10 to 30 days after you send your request to us.

How do I order a card on-line?

To order a card on-line, go to the Order Card page. Enter last name, first name and date of birth of the individual whose card you're wishing to purchase (all three fields must be filled out). Once a record is found, select it and click 'Add to Cart'. On Shopping Cart page, review order - if you need to order multiple cards, continue shopping; if not, you can checkout. On Payment Card page, enter your payment method, then click 'Check Out'. You will then enter your billing information to continue. The following pages, you will enter payment information and verify the information. Once submitted, a confirmation page should be displayed including a printable temporary certification card. It can be used until you receive your permanent card in the mail (approximately 10 to 30 days after you send your request to us).

Where do I get a temporary boater certification card and how long is it valid?

Individuals successfully completing a course taught by Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division have the option of receiving a temporary certificate. They can be requested from the instructor at the time of the course; Boat-Ed issues a temporary certification card which is printable from their website after successfully completing the on-line course; or if ordering a card online, a temporary certification card will be issued and can be printed until a permanent card is received in the mail. The temporary cards are good for 60 days from issuance.

What if I have an old certification card from years ago, do I still need a new plastic card?

No. The old cardstock cards are still valid. We recommend you either laminate the card or place it in some waterproof cover to keep it from getting wet. The law states you must carry both your boater certification card and a photo id while operating a boat.

Please note: All records related to education courses prior to 1999 were purged a number of years ago. Because of this, we cannot validate anyone taking a course prior to 1999 except for those who still have their old cards. If you lose your card and you took one of our courses prior to 1999, you will be required to take another course and purchase a new card.

Do I need a boater education card to operate a PWC (personal watercraft)?

Yes. A boater certification card is needed to operate any type of motorized vessel on Missouri lakes.

Do I need a boater education card if I rent a boat/PWC?

Yes. The law applies to persons operating the vessel whether the vessel is owned or rented.

Is there any place where I do not need a boater education card to operate a vessel?

Yes. The law currently excludes the rivers, streams and all private waters; however, we recommend taking a boater education course prior to operating any vessel on the water for your own safety.

What if I live in a state other than Missouri, what do I need to do in order to legally operate a boat on Missouri waters?

For all non-Missouri residents, the boater education law applies to you as of January 1, 2006. You need to have a Missouri Boater Education card or another state's NASBLA approved card if your birthday is after January 1, 1984. You may obtain a card by successfully passing a Missouri Boater Education course or a comparable course given by Boat-Ed, US Coast Guard, US Power Squadrons, etc.

If you possess a Boater Certification from a state other than Missouri and the course you took is a NASBLA approved course, you can use it in place of the Missouri Boater Certification card. You must, however, have the proof and your photo ID with you at the time you are operating the vessel.

What happens if I get caught operating a vessel without the education card and ID?

It is our goal to educate the public and to make Missouri's waterways as safe as possible. The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division has taken a conservative approach in the enforcement of the new law the first year; however, a violation of the mandatory education law is a Class B misdemeanor that may result in the issuance of a citation and subsequent fine.