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Do You Need a License to Ride a Jet Ski? How Old in Each State?

Jet skiing can be great fun during the summer! Getting a fine for breaking your state’s boating laws is not as fun! When it comes to the boating laws in each state, we’ve got you covered! 

Boating laws vary from state to state. The minimum age to operate a personal watercraft in any state is 12 years old, and many states may require supervision for those younger than 16. A majority of states also require those who wish to operate a PWC to complete a boating education course to obtain a Boater Card or Certificate. 

No matter which state you come from or in which state you want to use a personal watercraft, we are going to break down everything you need to know. Let’s dive right in! 

Alabama 

In the state of Alabama, it is illegal for persons under 12 years old to operate a personal watercraft. Those between 12 and 13 years old must have someone 21 years or older present on board. Persons over the age of 14 years old can obtain a vessel license to operate a PWC alone. 

Alaska 

In Alaska, you must be 14 years or older to operate a personal watercraft unless accompanied by someone who Is 18 years or older. In Alaska, there is no minimum age to do a Boating License and Safety Course. 

Arizona 

In Arizona, no person below 12 years old may operate a PWC without the presence of a parent, legal guardian, or a person over the age of 18. 

Arkansas 

In Arkansas, persons between 12 and 15 years of age may operate a PWC with the supervision of a person who is older than 18. To operate a PWC alone, you must be 16 years of age or older. 


California 

To legally operate a personal watercraft in California, you must be older than 16 and must have a California Boater Card. 

Colorado 

To operate a PWC in Colorado, you need to obtain a Boater Education Card by completing a safety course, which can only be done once you are 16 years old. 

Connecticut 

To operate a PWC in Connecticut, you must obtain a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation. This is issued in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. 

Delaware 

In Delaware, you must be at least 14 years old and have completed a boating safety course to operate a PWC. 

Florida 

In Florida, you must be at least 14 years old to obtain a Florida Boating License to operate a PWC. 

Georgia 

Any person in Georgia over the age of 16 and in possession of valid identification, such as a driver’s license, may operate a PWC.  

Hawaii 

In Hawaii, you must be 15 years old and must complete an online course as well as an additional safety course to receive your boating license. You will need to keep your license on you when operating a PWC. 

Idaho 

In Idaho, you must be 16 years old to operate a PWC and must wear protective gear, including a helmet and a life jacket. 

Illinois 

In Illinois, you must be 13 years or older to operate a PWC alone. Persons between 10 and 12 may operate it under the supervision of their parents or a guardian. 

Indiana 

If you do not have a driver’s license in Indiana, you must pass a boating safety course and be at least 15 years of age. 

Iowa 

In Iowa, if you are between 12 and 17 years old, you must complete a boating education course to operate a PWC. 

Kansas 

In Kansas, you must be at least 12 years old to operate a PWC. Anyone younger than 12 must be supervised by a parent or guardian. 

Kentucky 

In Kentucky, you must be at least 12 to operate a PWC. If you are between 12 and 17, you must obtain a Kentucky Safe Boating Certificate Card. 

Louisiana 

In Louisiana, you must be at least 16 years old and have completed mandatory boater education to operate a PWC. 

Maine 

In Maine, you must be at least 16 to operate a personal watercraft. If you are between 16 and 18, you must complete a boater education course or be accompanied by someone 18 years or older. 

Maryland 

To operate a PWC in Maine, you must be 16 years or older and have a boating safety certificate. 

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, you must be 16 years old older to operate a PWC. Those aged 16 or 17 must complete a boating safety course. 

Michigan 

In Michigan, you must be at least 16 years old and have a safety certificate for boating to operate a PWC. 

Minnesota 

In Minnesota, you need to be over 13 years of age and have a Minnesota Boater Card to operate a PWC. 

Mississippi

In Mississippi, you need to complete a boating safety course and be over 12 years old to operate a PWC. Those younger than 12 need supervision of someone 21 years or older. 

Missouri

In Missouri, there is no age limit to complete a boater education course. To operate a PWC without supervision, you must complete the course and be older than 14. 

Montana 

In Montana, you can operate a PWC if you are 13 years or older. Those aged 13 or 14 must complete a boater education course. 

Nebraska 

In Nebraska, you must be at least 14 years old and have the Nebraska Boater Education Card to operate a PWC. 

Nevada 

In Nebraska, you must be 14 years or older to operate a PWC while unaccompanied and must complete a boater education course. 

New Hampshire 

In New Hampshire, you must be at least 16 years old and complete a boater safety course to operate a PWC. 

New Jersey 

In New Jersey, you must be at least 16 years old and complete a boater safety course to operate a PWC. 

New Mexico

In New Mexico, you must be at least 13 years old to operate a PWC.  

New York 

In New York, you must be at least 14 years old and have a boating safety certificate, either from New York or your home state. 

North Carolina 

In North Carolina, you must be older than 14 to operate a PWC. Those between 14 and 16 years old must complete an approved boating safety course.

North Dakota 

In North Dakota, you must be older than 12 to complete the boating safety course to operate a PWC. 

Ohio 

In Ohio, persons aged between 12 and 15 may operate a PWC with supervision and the completion of a boating safety course. Those 16 years or older may operate a PWC without supervision. 

Oklahoma 

In Oklahoma, you must be older than 12 to operate a PWC. Those aged 12 to 15 must have a boater education card to operate the personal watercraft.

Oregon 

In Oregon, you must be older than 16 and possess a boater education card to operate a personal watercraft.

Pennsylvania 

In Pennsylvania, you must complete a boating course and be older than 12 to operate a PWC. 

Rhode Island 

In Rhode Island, anyone older than 18 can operate a PWC alone and without a safety certificate. Those aged between 16 and 17 must complete a boating safety course. 

South Carolina 

In South Carolina, you must be older than 16 and possess a boater education card to operate a personal watercraft.

South Dakota 

In South Dakota, you must be over 14 years old to operate a PWC and must complete a boater education course.

Tennessee 

In Tennessee, you must be over 12 years old in age to operate a PWC and must complete a boater education course.

Texas

In Texas, you must be at least 13 years old and must complete a boater education course to operate a PWC.

Utah 

In Utah, you must be older than 16 to operate a PWC without supervision. Persons aged between 16 and 17 years old must complete a boater education course. 

Vermont 

In Vermont, you must be older than 16 and possess a boater safety certificate to operate a personal watercraft.

Virginia 

In Virginia, you must be older than 16 to operate a PWC on your own. Those between 14 and 15 years old must complete an approved boating safety course to do this.

Washington 

In Washington, you must be over 14 years old to operate a PWC and must complete a boater education course.

West Virginia 

In West Virginia, you must be 15 years or older to operate a PWC without supervision. Persons aged between 12 and 14 must complete a safety course and have supervision from an adult. 

Wisconsin 

In Wisconsin, persons aged between 12 and 15 may operate a PWC if they have completed a boating safety course. Persons 16 and older can operate a PWC without supervision. 

Wyoming   

In Wyoming, you can operate a PWC if you are older than 16. If you are younger than 16, you need the supervision of an adult. This state does not require boating education. 

Conclusion

Personal watercrafts can be great fun, especially when you don’t get a fine for breaking your state’s boating laws. In this article, we broke down everything you need to know about the age restrictions and license requirements to operate jet skis in every state.  

Sources:

https://www.alea.gov/dps/marine-patrol/boating-rules-and-regulations

https://www.boat-ed.com/alaska

https://uscgboating.org/regulations/state-boating-laws-details.php

http://lakehavasumarineassociation.com/what-is-the-age-for-drive-a-boat-and-or-pwc-in-arizona-and-also-in-california/

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https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=28985

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https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Boating/Certification/Who-Needs-a-Certifcate

https://www.boaterexam.com/usa/florida/

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https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/safety/Pages/BoatingSafety.aspx

https://www.boat-ed.com/indiana/

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https://www.boat-ed.com/montana/

https://www.boaterexam.com/usa/nebraska/regulations.aspx

https://www.boaterexam.com/usa/nevada/regulations.aspx

https://www.boat-ed.com/newhampshire/

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https://www.boat-ed.com/utah/boating_law

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https://www.boat-ed.com/washington/boating_law/
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https://www.boat-ed.com/wisconsin/

https://wgfd.wyo.gov/FAQ/Boating-and-Watercraft-FAQ