NJ Boating Laws

New Jersey Safe Boating Laws

NJ Boating Law Age Restrictions

There are two minimum age requirements for operating a powered vessel in New Jersey:

• You must be at least 13 years of age to operate:

– Vessels powered by electric trolling motors

– Vessels 12 feet or longer with less than 10 total horsepower

• You must be at least 16 years of age to operate all other power vessels, including personal watercraft (this includes out-of-state residents)

A boat license is a separate document from a boat safety certificate and is required for operation on non-tidal water (water where the tide does not change) in the State of New Jersey. The boat license is not a replacement for a boat safety certificate, it is an additional requirement. On non tidal waters in the State of New Jersey you may need both, a boat safety certificate and a boat license. To obtain a boat license, go to your nearest NJ Division of Motor Vehicle Commission Facility. Persons must bring their NJ Boat Safety Certificate with them to apply for a boat license if they are required to possess a certificate for vessel operation.


A boat license is not required for non-powered vessels.

Persons operating vessels less than 1 HP, vessels powered by 12 volt electric trolling motors or vessels 12′ or longer with less than 10 total HP are exempt from the license requirement.

Out-of-state residents with written proof of the successful completion of a boat safety course are exempt from the boat license requirement.

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These are some of the penalties you could face for boating law violations in New Jersey:

Operating a powerboat without a NJ Boating Safety Certificate: minimum $100 fine, maximum $500 fine.

Failing to carry or exhibit a boat license when operating a powerboat on non-tidal waters: up to $500 fine and/or up to 60 days imprisonment.

Boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BWI) on tidal or non-tidal waters is extremely dangerous and carries severe penalties.

1st Offense

• Loss of right to operate vessel in NJ for 12 months

• Fine $250-$400

• Loss of Driver’s License up to 12 months

A complete list of boating laws and penalties can be found at: