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Meeting the Requirements of Ohio's Boater Education Law

Persons born on or after January 1, 1982 who operate a boat in Ohio powered by more than 10 horsepower* must provide proof of boater education. There are several ways to meet this requirement.

*Exemption: Individuals who possess valid merchant mariner credentials issued by the US Coast Guard with at least one endorsement of master or operator are exempt from Ohio's education requirement. Credentials must be carried onboard. 

You can meet Ohio's Boater Education requirement by taking and passing an approved boating education course (classroom, online, or home study), or by taking and passing a proficiency exam. The options range in price (starting at "free") and the amount of time required to complete. All are explained on the tabs below. 


Any online course that provides you with certified proof of general boater education  a certificate or card that shows your name, date of birth and a NASBLA seal of approval for the course is sufficient to fulfill Ohio's boater education law. We further recommend you choose a course provider that has worked with us to include Ohio-specific boating laws.

These course providers also send us your records so that we can issue you an Ohio boater education card to carry with you as proof of education:

You can also check the NASBLA web site for approved online courses (www.nasbla.org). 


A number of NASBLA-approved classroom courses are available in Ohio. They are developed by ODNR, US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary. (US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary are volunteer organizations.)  Classroom courses are a minimum of 8 hours of classroom teaching. Some are scheduled all in one day (typically Saturdays); some are stretched out over a number of weeks (usually in the evening). Both US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary also offer a longer course that includes more than the required minimum information. These longer courses also fulfill Ohio's education requirement. When you sign up for an in-person class, be sure to check that the class fulfills Ohio's requirement. 

Most instructors use a variety of audio-visual teaching aids. Classes are geared to average learning ability (typically 5th grade reading level). Some instructors require an adult to be present in the classroom for children under a certain age. Ask when you register what the age requirements are and if the class is suitable for your child. 

You may find that more classes are scheduled in the spring and the fall when volunteer instructors are not out boating and officers are not out patrolling. Cost varies, based on which class is being taught, materials and room fees, etc. 

After you pass a classroom course, your instructor should forward your course record to ODNR so that we can issue you a boater education card through the mail. If your instructor does not forward your information to us, we will not have you in our database and we will not be able to issue you a duplicate. It will take 1 to 2 weeks to get your card in the mail AFTER your instructor forwards class information to us. 

List of Boating Classes

Home Study

There is no charge for a Home Study course. Your only cost is for the postage required to mail the workbook and test back to us to be graded. You can request a Home Study online. 

When you request a Home Study packet, we mail you a coursebook, a workbook and reference materials. You study, fill out the workbook and take the test at your own pace. Then you mail us the completed workbook and test.

We check your work and grade the test. If you pass, you'll get your education card in the mail within 1-2 weeks. We retain your information in our database so that if you need a replacement card, we can issue it (name, date of birth and address required). If you fail, we'll send you a letter to let you know.

The Home Study course uses the same coursebook as the Ohio Boating Education Course (classroom) and the study guide is found at www.Boat-Ed.com.

Based on your learning style, you may benefit from using all available options.

Proficiency Exam 

This option is recommended for knowledgeable boaters. The proficiency exam is available by appointment from any Watercraft Office and takes about an hour. There is no fee to take a proficiency exam. The test is similar to the test taken at the end of a classroom boating course. No reference materials are permitted and you must pass the test with a score of 70 percent.

We recommend that you request a Home Study Packet in order to study before your scheduled exam. If you are not familiar with laws like the Mandatory Boater Education law in Ohio, you may not have the level of knowledge required to pass this test. Contact the Watercraft Office nearest you to schedule your exam appointment.