Are you planning on boating in New Jersey? If so, you may find the following “Q&A” blog very useful. It’s loaded with boating info that can help save you time & money and keep you safe on the water. Let’s get started with some of the most commonly asked questions.
Middlesex County Boating Safety Class Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need a New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate?
A: If you are operating a powerboat or personal watercraft (Jet Ski, Wave Runner, etc.) on NJ waters, the answer is YES, you are required to possess proof of boating education. New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau regulations state that to operate a power vessel on the waters of this state, individuals need at least one of the following documents:
- A New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate
- A boating safety certificate issued by their state of residence (non-residents only for no more than 90 days)
- A United States Coast Guard Captains License
- Written proof of completion of a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), or one substantially similar to a New Jersey-approved course (non-residents only, for no more than 90 days)
Q: Will my New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate expire?
No. New Jersey Boat Safety Certificates do not have an expiration date and do not need to be renewed. If you or your child have taken a New Jersey boating safety course in the past and need to get a certificate issued, contact the NJSP Marine Services Bureau (click here for instructions).
Q: Do I need a New Jersey boat license?
A: A New Jersey boat license is separate from a NJ Boat Safety Certificate. It is an endorsement issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and attached to the state-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards of residents aged 16 years and older. It is not a substitute for a Boat Safety Certificate but is an additional requirement for individuals that wish to boat on non-tidal waters in NJ (such as lakes, creeks, and rivers where there is no tide). The endorsement is only required for motor-powered vessels; non-powered vessels do not require the endorsement. Having a NJ Boat Safety Certificate is the first step in obtaining a boat license endorsement. If you are 16 years of age or older and wish to get a boating license endorsement added to your current NJ state-issued driving or ID credential, you must visit a NJ Motor Vehicle Commission facility and provide the following:
- A New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate
- Documents for proof of identification
- Payment of the applicable fee
Below is a list of EXCEPTIONS to the non-tidal boat license requirement. A New Jersey boat license endorsement is not required if:
- Your vessel is powered by a motor less than 1 HP or a 12-volt electric motor
- Your vessel is 12 feet long or longer with less than a 10 HP motor
- You are competing in an authorized race pursuant to a permit issued by the Division of State Police in the Department of Law & Public Safety
- You are an out-of-state resident who has written proof of successful completion of a course substantially similar to a NJ-approved boating safety course
Q: Will my New Jersey boat license expire?
A: Yes. Because NJ boating licenses are issued as endorsements, they are subject to the expiration date displayed on the driver’s license or ID card they are attached to. When you renew your driver’s license or state-issued ID card, you must also renew the boating license endorsement. To do so, you can visit a Motor Vehicle Commission facility in person and do the following:
- Present your New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate
- Pay the applicable boat license endorsement fee
- What is the minimum age requirement to operate a power vessel in New Jersey?
A: There are two mandatory minimum age requirements in New Jersey:
- You must be at least 13 years old to operate a vessel powered by an electric trolling motor, or a vessel that is 12 feet or longer with a motor that is less than 10 total HP.
- You must be at least 16 years old to operate all other power vessels, including personal watercraft. This includes out-of-state residents.
Q: I live in another state. Do I need a NJ Boat Safety Certificate to operate a power vessel in New Jersey?
A: Out of state residents are not exempt from the education requirement listed above. The law states that an out of state resident who is at least 16 years of age and who will be in this state for less than 90 days may operate a power vessel on the waters of the State of New Jersey as long as they possess a boating safety certificate issued by their state of residence, or possess written proof of successfully completing a boat safety course approved by another state, NASBLA, or the United States Coast Guard.
Q: I have a boating certificate issued by another state. Will the state of New Jersey issue a NJ Boat Safety Certificate based on that certificate?
A: No. The NJSP Marine Services Bureau can only issue a New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate for successfully completed New Jersey-approved courses. However, some boating safety courses taught in Pennsylvania and New York are approved as NJ safety courses. In this case, the instructor of the PA or NY course will provide their student with a NJSP application for a Boat Safety Certificate (S.P. 421) to serve as a temporary NJ Boat Safety Certificate and the NJ Marine Services Bureau will send the permanent certificate to the instructor for issuance to the student. A New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate will not be issued for any course that has not been specifically approved for the issuance of a New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate.
Q: Can I operate a power vessel in New Jersey without a Boat Safety Certificate if I possess a current United States Coast Guard operator’s license?
A: A person holding a current United States Coast Guard operator’s (captains) license, who is otherwise required to possess a Boat Safety Certificate, may operate a power vessel on the waters of New Jersey without having completed a boating safety course approved by the NJSP as long as they have their captains license in their possession while operating. The operator’s license cannot be converted to a New Jersey boating safety certificate.
Q: Does my boat need to be registered?
A: A New Jersey boat registration is a requirement for almost all vessels operating on state waterways but there are a few exceptions. Vessels are registered by the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission. Generally, all boats must be registered except for:
- Those being operated in New Jersey for less than 180 consecutive days
- Foreign vessels
- U.S. public vessels
- Non-motorized vessels used on private property
- Racing vessels with a New Jersey State Marine Police permit
- Non-motorized inflatable devices, surfboards, racing shells, dinghies, canoes, and kayaks
- Non-motorized vessels that are less than 12 feet in length
- Tenders/dinghies used only for direct transportation between a vessel and shore
To register your boat or PWC, you must visit a NJ Motor Vehicle Commission facility and provide necessary information including the boat title, a completed application form, and proper identification. Payment of a registration fee will also be required.
Q: Will my New Jersey Boat registration expire?
A: Yes, but you will receive a renewal notice by mail approximately three months prior to the expiration date. You can renew your boat registration online or in person.
If your New Jersey boat registration becomes lost or stolen, you must replace it as soon as possible. To do so, complete an Application for Duplicate Certificate of Ownership (form OS/SS-52) and submit it in person at a NJ Motor Vehicle Commission facility. This will maintain your boating operation privileges within the state.
Q: What is the boating safety test-out option and how do I know if I qualify to take it?
A: Although it was previously a choice, the Test-Out-Option expired June 1, 2009 and is no longer available.
Middlesex County Boating Safety Class | Captain Jack’s NJ Boating Safety Classes
If you are interested in getting your NJ Boating Safety Certificate, sign up for one of our boating safety classes today! This is the class you must successfully complete to get your New Jersey Boating Safety Certificate, which allows you to legally operate a power vessel (motor boat or Jet Ski/PWC) on New Jersey waters. Click Here to sign up for a class online. Every student that successfully completes the class will also get a free one-year BoatUS membership including a subscription to either Anglers Magazine or BoatUS Magazine, discounts at participating fuel docks, discounts at West Marine, discounts on towing insurance packages and more!