How Long Does It Take To Get A Boating License?

The time it takes to get a boating license can vary depending on the state or province and the type of boating education program you chose. However, it’s important to note that some states don’t even require you to get a boating license (click here if you’re unsure).

On average, it will take 3-5 hours in order to complete your boaters education and test (for both in-person and online). Most programs will send you a temporary printable license that can be used imminently, but your permanent license will usually take another 3-4 weeks to get delivered.

Most online boating education programs have timers for each page, so you can’t just skip through the whole thing and take the test. When I took the program, it took me just under 3.5 hours to complete the education and the exam. However, temporary licenses can be finished in just 10-30 minutes.

Related Article: How To Get A Boating License (Essential Guide)

What is a boating license and how does it work?

A boating license is a legal document that allows you to operate a boat safely and legally. It also ensures that you understand the rules of the water and are aware of your responsibilities as a boat operator. Although most adults don’t remember much from their boating safety course, it’s still required to obtain in most states.

Most states also require you to have a valid boater safety certificate on board whenever you are captaining a boat. So make sure to keep it in your wallet at all times. Most people I know don’t carry theirs around, but if the coast guard feels like giving you a rough time, they’ll ticket you for not having it.

What’s the fastest way you can get a boating license?

The fastest way to get a boating license is to just get a temporary boating license. These licenses are offered online, or at many boat rental locations. They usually cost $10 and can be completed in 10-30 minutes. In most states, they’ll last a year. Here’s a link to get a temporary boating license in Florida.

If you want to get a permanent license that will last your whole lifetime, it’s generally quicker to do an online program such as Although Boattests101 and other online programs still take around 3-5 hours to complete, you can do them while doing something else (unlike if you were to do it in person).

Most of the time when completing any online boating ed course will be from the time they require you to wait before continuing through the chapters. You can watch TV, cook, or do anything during this time as realistically you won’t need it all to skim through the chapters.

Can you get away with not having a boating license?

You will not be able to rent a boat in a state that requires a boating license unless you have a boating license (it could be a temporary one). Most boat rental services provide a boating license test at their facility that can get done in 10-30 minutes.

If you drive a non-rented boat, and you are caught without having a boating license, you will most likely receive a fine of up to $200. This fine is generally waived if you provide proof that you have a boating license and it was just not with you when you were pulled over.

It is true that boaters are rarely pulled over, but if you don’t understand the rules of the water, the chances of you breaking a law on the water and getting caught for it are much higher.