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If you operate a motorboat (of 10 horsepower or greater) in the State of Virginia and are 40 years old or younger, state law requires that you have completed boater education classes and are licensed by July 1, 2013. That’s one month away. All personal watercraft (PWC) operators, regardless of age, should have completed the classes by July of last year. The state defines a PWC as motorboats less than 16 feet in length that are powered by jet pumps, not propellers, where the persons stand, kneel, or sit on, rather than inside the boat.

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law establishing boater safety education compliance. Lawmakers were prompted to pass the law due to the rising statistics of boating accidents and fatalities. In the five years prior to the law’s passage, the state recorded over 700 recreational boating accidents that resulted in nearly 100 fatalities.

The requirements began phasing into law in 2009 with an end date of July 1, 2016. Completion requirements of boater safety education classes are as follows:

· PWC operators 20 year old or younger completion by July 1, 2009.

· PWC operators 35 years old or younger completion by July 1, 2010.

· PWC operators 50 years old and younger or a motorboat operator 20 years old and younger by July 1, 2011.

· All PWC operators and motorboat operators 30 years old or younger by July 1, 2012.

· Motorboat operators 40 years old or younger by July 1, 2013.

· Motorboat operators 45 years old or younger by July 1, 2014.

· Motorboat operators 50 years old or younger by July 1, 2015.

· All motorboat operators, regardless of age, by July 1, 2016.

The requirements are not only for boat owners, but also apply to people who rent or lease boats. For non-residents, if the boat being operated is registered in Virginia, then operators must comply with the requirements. If the boat is registered in another state, but will be in Virginia waters for a period of 90 days or less, the operator must meet the applicable boating safety education requirements of the state the boat is registered in.

New boat owners will receive Temporary Operators Certificate (TOC) which will allow them to operate the boat for 90 days, allowing them enough time to complete a boating safety course. More information about area classes can be found on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Virginia Boating Safey Education Requirements

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