Who Needs a Boating Certificate?To legally operate any boat with a motor, or a sailboat 19 1/2 feet in length or longer,
- residents of Connecticut,
- persons owning real property in Connecticut, or
- persons with vessels registered in Connecticut
- a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC),
- a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) or
- a valid vessel operator license* issued by the United States Coast Guard
- On inland bodies of water with a 10 horsepower limit and between one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset, a certificate is not required to operate a boat with an electric motor (rated at 106 lbs. of thrust or less). However, the vessel must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- * If you have a valid vessel operator license issued by the United States Coast Guard you are not required to have a Safe Boating Certificate to operate a vessel other than a personal watercraft (i.e. trademarked brand names Jet Ski, Wave runner, Sea-Doo). You must have the current license on board the recreational vessel you are operating.
- a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) issued by Connecticut or
- a certificate issued by a state with a reciprocal agreement by Connecticut.
Connecticut recognizes certificates from New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island for use upon our waters.
Non-Resident Certificate Requirements
Connecticut recognizes a valid Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation issued by a reciprocal state (NY, MA, RI or NH) for those persons not residing in CT and wishing to operate a PWC in CT. Once a person holding a certificate from a reciprocal state makes CT their permanent residence, he or she must obtain a CT boating certificate within 90 days of becoming a CT resident. Personal watercraft (i.e. jet ski, wave runner, sea-doo) operators MUST have a recognized Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation to operate legally.
Safe Boating Certificate
A Safe Boating Certificate (SBC) will allow an individual to operate any recreational vessel, except a personal watercraft on Connecticut’s waters. In order to meet the requirements for a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC), an individual must:
- Pass an approved Pass an approved basic boating safety course; or or
- Pass the DEEP's Equivalency Examination.
Examinations are offered only by the DEEP. Please complete the equivalency exam application to register for the examination. The exam will be conducted on an interactive videoconferencing platform.
Application & Fee Due Date:
April 9, 2021 April 2, 2021 May 14, 2021 May 7, 2021 June 11, 2021 June 4, 2021 July 9, 2021 July 2, 2021 August 13, 2021 August 6, 2021 September 10, 2021 September 3, 2021
Note: Save the diploma from the course/exam. You will need it to apply for your Safe Boating Certificate in person.
Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation
A Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) allows an individual to operate any recreational vessel including a personal watercraft. Please see Age Restrictions below for operating boats with engines greater than 10 horsepower and personal watercraft. In order to meet the requirements for a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO), an individual must:
- Pass an approved combination Pass an approved combination basic boating/personal watercraft course; or
- Pass an approved basic boating safety course and an approved 2.5 hour personal watercraft course; or
- Pass the DEEP's Equivalency Examination. See dates above.
Any person possessing a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC), a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) or a valid vessel operator license issued by the USCG needs to have the certificate and/or license on board at all times while operating a vessel. A certificate is valid for the life of the person to whom it is issued and may be issued regardless of age.
The certificate may be suspended upon conviction of operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- No person under age 16, issued a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) or a certificate approved by the Commissioner, may operate a personal watercraft without the onboard supervision of a person at least age 18 who has a CPWO.
- No person under the age of 16 may operate a vessel that is engaged in tubing or water-skiing.
- A child under the age of 16 may be permitted to operate a vessel, other than a personal watercraft, without obtaining a SBC or CPWO, if the youth is under the direct supervision of a person at least age 18 who has had a boating certificate for at least two years.
- A child under the age of 12 who has obtained a SBC or CPWO may not operate a vessel with greater than 10 horsepower, unless the youth is accompanied on board by a person at least age 18 who holds a SBC or CPWO.
Owners who knowingly permit an underage child to operate their vessel without a SBC or CPWO when one is required will be held accountable for the actions of the child.
Coastal Boater Endorsement Program
Boaters may obtain a Coastal Boater Endorsement for their Safe Boating or Personal Watercraft Certificate by completing a course in coastal navigation. This class is above and beyond what is taught in a basic boating course which provides an introduction to boating safety. A navigation course is especially critical for coastal boaters. Some topics include Longitude/Latitude, time, distance, speed calculations, chart plotting, GPS and more. After successful completion, the endorsement will be printed on your certificate.
Safe Waterskiing Endorsement
To operate a vessel that is engaged in tubing or waterskiing you must;
- Be at least 16 years old;
- Hold a valid U.S. Coast Guard-issued vessel operator license or a valid boating certificate issued by CT, MA, NH, NY or RI; and
- Have a CT Safe Water Skiing Endorsement issued by DEEP.
Exception: If, prior to October 1, 2015, you obtained a valid license issued by the USCG or a valid boating certificate issued by CT, MA, NH, NY or RI, you are not required to have a Safe Waterskiing Endorsement.
Persons who are younger than 16 years of age, or who do not have a valid license issued by the USCG or a valid boating certificate issued by CT, MA, NH, NY or RI, are not eligible to operate a vessel engaged in tubing or waterskiing.
Content last updated February 10, 2021