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  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Safety

Boating Safety Education 

Throughout the year, many people operate motor-driven watercraft on the Illinois waters and many operate for the first time. So, we encourage individuals - both novice and experienced - to take the course. Each of us has the responsibility to keep this lifetime leisure activity free from tragedy and personal loss to ourselves and our fellow boaters. The Illinois Boating Education Course is offered with these objectives in mind.

The Illinois Boating Education Course consists of a minimum eight hours of instruction. These courses cover the basics of boating safety, equipment and requirements, navigation, motorboat, registration and titling, emergency measures and the Illinois boating laws.

No person under 10 years of age may operate a motorboat. Age 10 years and less than 12 years of age may operate under a parent or guardian's direct control.
The program is primarily designed to train young people between the ages of 12 and 18. The educational material is based on a sixth-grade reading level. Students under the age of 11 may not participate in the exam to receive certification.
Students 11 years old will receive their certificate upon there 12th birthday.
Persons 12 and over completing the minimum eight hours of instruction and successfully completing the final examination will receive a State of Illinois Certificate of Competency.

Who Must Take The Course?

On January 1, 1978, Illinois law was passed that requires persons at least 12 years of age and less than 18 years of age may only operate a motorboat if:

  • They have in possession a valid Boating Education Certificate of Competency issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Safety Education Division, or
  • They are accompanied on the motorboat and under direct control of a parent of guardian, or a person at least 18 years of age designated by a parent or guardian.


Two Ways To Take The Course

Instructor-led Classes-
The traditional class method is through an 8 hour instructor-led class structure. Classes may be taught in one day or over a couple of different days, usually on the weekend. The class will end with an  exam to pass the class. Interested individuals may call 1-800-832-2599 or check the List of Education Courses by County.

Online Self-Study Course-Students may study the course material at their own pace, completing chapter reviews along the way.  At the end of the course material the student will be required to pass an exam. Student certification will be mailed by the course provider.

Two Providers for On-line Boating Safety Course and Certification:


Valid Safety Certificates Issued By:

Additional Links: