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Wisconsin Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

A person who was born on or after January 1, 1989, and who is 16 years of age or older may operate a motorboat only if he or she:

  • Has completed a boating safety course that is accepted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or…
  • Is accompanied by another person in the motorboat who is at least 18 years of age and that person holds a valid boating safety certificate or was born before January 1, 1989.

A person who is at least 12 years old may operate a PWC only if he or she has completed a boating safety course accepted by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Enforcement

Wisconsin law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry the Card: Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

Penalty: Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.

Reciprocity

For visiting boaters, all states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)