Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

Over $400 Million worth of case results

Awarded The Best Lawyer in 2024 by U.S. News

Nationally Recognized in Legal Community

Boating in Illinois waters is governed by laws that apply whether one is operating a personal watercraft or a commercial watercraft. In addition, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages people to complete boating education courses.

These laws and boating instructions are designed to prevent boating accidents. Thousands of recreational boating accidents happen in the US each year, resulting in debilitating injuries and death.

Illinois Boating License

If you, or a loved one, were injured in a boat accident caused by an unlicensed operator, our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you.

Get a free no-obligation consultation through our contact form or call our boating accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call). There is never a fee charged unless there is a recovery for you.

Importance of Safety Course for Boat Operators

All boating operators are encouraged to take an online boating course. In Ilinois, the law states that a person born after January 1, 1998, cannot operate a motorboat with ten horsepower unless the person is a holder of a Boating Safety Education Certificate [1] issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Below are some of the reasons why boat operators must take a boater safety education:

The Law Requires Taking the Certification Exam

The Illinois law enforcement officers continuously watch over the Illinois waters for everyone’s safety. Boating operators and passengers can cooperate with them by following the Illinois boating laws and guidelines:

Bring your Illinois Boat License: The law requires some watercraft operators to complete an Illinois boating education course and secure a boating education certificate.

If you are among those required to secure the Boater Education Card, you must also carry the card on board and have it ready for inspection by law enforcers.

Failure to bring the card while operating your personal watercraft or any other type of vessel may result in a penalty.

Age or Operator Restrictions. People ages 10-11 may legally handle a vessel powered by a motor of not more than 10 hp provided that they are under the direct supervision of a person over 18 and a holder of a Boating Safety Certificate.

People ages 12-18 may handle a vessel powered by a motor of not more than 10 hp provided that they are under the direct supervision of a person who is over 18 and a holder of a Boating Safety Certificate. People ages 12 to 18 may also legally operate a craft if they are holders of a Boater Safety Certificate.

Boating Safety Courses Save Lives

According to the US Coast Guard [2], about 77% of boating deaths happened on watercraft operated by an individual who had no safety instruction.

So, whether or not the state you are in requires it, you are in a better position to complete boater education before operating a watercraft.

Boating Online Course Is a Money Saver

Taking a boating safety course will turn you into a safer and better boater and save you money. Statistics show that people who have completed a boating safety education are less likely to get into boating accidents.

A temporary boating safety certificate confirms the online course completion of an Illinois-approved online boating instruction. This certificate is an incentive for insurance companies to offer boat insurance discounts.

Learning the basics of boating safety may already qualify a person for an insurance discount. In addition, insurance companies offer additional discounts to people who complete the safety courses offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons [3].

Opportunity to Learn New Illinois Boating Laws

Many boating safety education can be completed online at the learner’s own pace, though people can complete these courses in one day. Enrolling in online recreational safety courses allows a person to learn something new.

Remember that laws and regulations are subject to constant amendments. An online course on boating safety provides learners with recreational safety education materials.

These materials provide online boating learners with all the education requirements set by the state.

How to Enroll in a Boating Instruction Online

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the course approval and acceptance of boating instructions online. The Department of Natural Resources makes these learning programs accessible to people who wish to secure an Illinois boating safety certificate at their own pace.

Online Boater Instruction From a Delegated Provider by the Illinois Department of Natural Resource

An official state delegated provider offers a program to test the learner’s boating knowledge through a fun and interactive course.

For example, Wavve Boating [4], one of the DNR-delegated providers, offers a boat safety course and uses customizable nautical maps and GPS navigation to guide the learners. After teaching the learner, Wavve boating provides a final online exam and issues a certificate of competency for passers.

The other boating course providers include [5], BoatUS Foundation [6], and These online platforms offer boating safety course training convenient for young and adult learners.

Minimum Age Requirement to Enroll in a Boating Course Online

A person must be at least 11 years old to take boater instruction from a delegated boating instruction provider.

Holders of valid competency certificates who are at least 12 years of age but less than 18 may operate a motorboat provided they are under the direct control of a parent or guardian.

Enforcement of the Boating Laws and Regulations in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) [7] is responsible for enforcing boating guidelines. The DNR officers are authorized to stop and inspect watercraft to ensure federal and state laws compliance.

A boat operator must bring the vessel to a stop after receiving a visual or audible signal from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer or coast guard. It is against the law to disregard a directive coming from a law enforcement officer.

In addition, a boat operator must yield or slow down when approached or passed by an emergency watercraft using a legal visual signal. An operator who refuses to yield may result in suspended boating privileges for up to 2 years.

Securing a Boating License FAQs

Our personal injury lawyers have answered common questions about operating a boat legally.

Who Needs a Boating Course Certificate in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, no person born on or after January 1, 1998, unless exempted by subsection, shall operate a motorboat with over 10 HP unless that person has a valid Illinois Boating Safety Certificate issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

How to Secure a Boating License in Illinois?

People who wish to secure their Illinois Boating Education Certificate can do so in 3 easy steps. First, you need to pay a one-time fee of $34.95, which you can use for the course and unlimited attempts at the final exam.

Second, get familiar with the Boating Safety Education and take the exam. Third, you can print the Certificate of Completion after passing the exam. The permanent state Boating Safety Certificate will arrive in the mail in ten business days.

Does a Boaters License Issued in Illinois Expire?

After completing an online safety course, the participant may print out the temporary boating safety certificate. This certificate expires sixty days after the online course completion. The permanent

The Illinois boaters license confirms that the holder has satisfactorily met Illinois’ mandatory boat safety education. This certification is good for life and does not expire.

This certificate holder is valid even if the holder is a visiting boater, as states and territories recognize boating education cards that meet the NASBLA requirements. Holders of Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards must also meet Transport Canada’s requirements.

How to Replace a Lost or Damaged Boating Safety Certificate?

A lost or damaged Safety Certificate holder can visit to order a replacement card.

How to Take a Boating Safety Online Course?

Anyone can complete boating instruction through an online course approved by the Department of Natural Resources. Learners may also want to enroll in online courses that currently partner with Global Marine Insurance.

Global Marine Insurance work with major insurance carriers. This partnership is an attractive scheme for people who want to protect their investment while learning about boating and other recreational safety education.

So, after completion of Illinois-approved recreational safety education, completers can take advantage of boat insurance discounts by presenting their Illinois certificate.

Is My Boating Safety Certificate Accepted in Other States?

All states and territories accept the safety card of visiting boaters from Illinois, provided the education cards meet the NASBLA requirements [8.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer If You Were Harmed In a Boating Accident

Our law firm provides advice on the best legal action that fits a client’s specific situation. If you are looking to seek compensation for a boating accident injury, our injury lawyers are ready to help.

The boating accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC represent people injured in boating accidents. Complete the contact form or call (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.

Our lawyers have the competencies to assist and help you recover the compensation you deserve. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Resources: [1] BoatUS Foundation, [2] US Coast Guard, [3] US Power Squadrons, [4] Wavve Boating, [5], [6] BoatUS Foundation, [7] Illinois Department of Natural Resources, [8] NASBLA

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
Free Consultation (888) 424-5757