get your north carolina boater card
North Carolina’s Official Boating Course, Test and Card. Animated, narrated & perfect for all ages.
644,977 Courses Completed and Counting
“It’s all about freedom. no roads, no lines, no boundaries to guide my adventures.”
Made by boaters, for boaters.
Go boating today
Anywhere, any device
in 1, 2, 3
BOATsmart! is the easiest and fastest way to get your North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Approved Boater Education Card (or boating license). We include everything you need.
1. Take the course
Study up with the Official North Carolina Boating Safety Course. Animated and narrated lessons put you in the captain’s seat. Anywhere, on any device and perfect for all ages.
2. Ace the test
It’s easy. Our North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Approved multiple-choice test is open book with unlimited free retries. Basically, you’re guaranteed to pass and it’s good for life!
3. You’re the captain now
Who needs it?
Boater Education Card to operate any motorized watercraft
greater than 10 horsepower.
Boaters & growing
Official BOATsmart! Course
Boating Knowledge Base
Trusted and recognized from coast to coast
Boating in North Carolina
Get Certified and Save!
We’ve teamed up with the best outdoor, adventure and travel brands to help you get the most out of your outdoor pursuits. Your BOATsmart!, HUNTINGsmart! or ATVsmart! course fee includes free membership to Campfire Collective and instant access to exclusive partner discounts.
Campfire helps people have awesome outdoor adventures.
Campfire was founded with the belief that we’re at our best when we go to our wild. Collective membership is free. Join now to get exclusive discounts from leading outdoor brands, access high quality online courses and inspire others. Your wild awaits, go boldly.
The most asked questions by our customers
DO NORTH CAROLINA BOATERS NEED TO HAVE A BOATER EDUCATION CARD?
Yes, in North Carolina this card is known as the North Carolina Boater Education Card and it is required if you were born on or after Jan. 31, 1988 and are operating a motorized boat powered by an engine of 10 HP or greater, on the public waters of North Carolina. Most other states and most of Canada’s provinces and territories also require boaters to carry a Boater Education Card, more commonly known as a ‘Boating License’. Get the Card, even if you aren’t required to in North Carolina, and you’ll be good to go boating in most of North America.
WHO ENFORCES NORTH CAROLINA’S BOATING LAWS?
North Carolina’s boaters must always comply with both federal and state boating laws and must follow any direction given by law enforcement. Learn more about North Carolina’s boating laws by taking the BOATsmart! North Carolina Course. North Carolina’s boating law authorities you’ll see on the water are:
- The North Carolina Wildlife and Resources Commission and its officers
- The U.S. Coast Guard
- Department of Natural Resources officers
- Any other authorized law enforcement officer
CAN I DRINK ALCOHOL WHILE BOATING IN NORTH CAROLINA?
In North Carolina it is illegal to operate any boat, including motorized boats, personal watercraft, water-skis, sailboats, sailboards or any other similar device, while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In North Carolina, boaters are considered to be under the influence if they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher. Learn more about the risks of drinking and boating by taking the BOATsmart! North Carolina Boating Safety Course!
IS THERE A MINIMUM AGE FOR PWC OPERATORS IN NORTH CAROLINA
Yes, PWC operators are required to be at least 14 years of age in the state of North Carolina. It is illegal for any boaters younger than 14 to operate a PWC, regardless of their boater certifications.
DO I NEED TO WEAR A LIFE JACKET WHEN BOATING IN NORTH CAROLINA?
The only boaters required to WEAR their life jackets in the state of North Carolina are:
- Children 13 years of age and under who are on any boat that is underway, unless they are in an enclosed cabin or below deck.
- PWC operators and passengers (inflatable life jackets are not permitted in North Carolina for PWC passengers).
- Passengers being towed by a boat or PWC (inflatable life jackets are not permitted in North Carolina towed sport participants).
IS MY NORTH CAROLINA BOATSMART! CARD THE SAME THING AS A NORTH CAROLINA BOATER EDUCATION CARD OR ‘BOATING LICENSE’?
Yes, your BOATsmart! Card is the same as a North Carolina Boater Education Card. In North Carolina the ‘Card’ is commonly referred to as a ‘Boating License’, although this is not the correct term.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT TAKES ME LONGER THAN 3-HOURS TO COMPLETE THE BOATSMART! COURSE? WILL I NEED TO START OVER?
The 3-hour timer is only a minimum requirement. You’re free to spend as much time as you need in the BOATsmart! Knowledge Base before taking the Final Test.
WHAT FINES AND/OR PENALTIES WILL A BOATER CAUGHT OPERATING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE FACE ON NORTH CAROLINA’S WATERS?
Any person convicted or operating a boat under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will be subject to significant fines and/or imprisonment. Take the BOATsmart! North Carolina Course to learn more about the effects of alcohol on boaters and the laws for boating with alcohol in North Carolina.
WILL MY NORTH CAROLINA BOATER EDUCATION CARD BE VALID FOR BOATING IN OTHER STATES?
Yes! The BOATsmart! Card is accepted in 40 other states, which extend reciprocity to certified boaters. This law applies to operators of motorized boats (who have taken and passed a NASBLA approved boating safety course), but does not apply in all states to operators of personal watercraft (PWCs). Always check the boating laws in the state you plan to visit before operating a boat or PWC there.
ARE THERE CLASSROOM BOATING COURSES IN NORTH CAROLINA?
Yes! If you’re the type who would like to take a classroom course in boating safety, you can. Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for more information about registering for a classroom course in your area.
WILL MY BOATSMART! CARD EVER EXPIRE?
Your BOATsmart! Card will never expire. But stay in touch after you pass the test – BOATsmart! offers free, online refresher lessons that will help you keep your boating skill and knowledge up to date as years pass and boating regulations change.
In partnership with 1% For The Planet, Campfire pledges a percentage of our annual revenue directly to nonprofits that sustain and protect the wild.