Jet Ski License – Required, Age & Purpose?

Riding a jet ski has become a very popular sport that many love to enjoy, but it brings up common questions about boating licenses.

In most places, you need a license to drive a car, but do you need a license to drive a jet ski? Will you get a ticket or in trouble if you don’t have a jet ski license?

Let’s go over if you need a jet ski license, where you get them, the minimum age to drive a jet ski and more below.

What Is A Jet Ski License?

A jet ski license is a legal permit, similar to a driving license, that allows people to drive a jet ski in the state or country that requires it.

The purpose of a jet ski license is to ensure that anyone operating a PWC has the knowledge and skills to do so safely and responsibly. The specific requirements for obtaining a jet ski license vary depending on the state or country where you plan to ride, but generally involve completing a boater safety course and passing a test.

Some jet ski rental places may require a boating license for people under a certain age. Some jet ski insurance may require it or will give better rates if you do pass the boating license test.

Jet Ski Or Boating License?

A jet ski license is a boating license, there is no license for just jet skis.

The test you take is more focused on boats, but does have sections on just jet skis. Since the rules are the same, except for a few things, the test is the same for boats and jet skis.

Do You Need A License To Drive A Jet Ski?

A jet ski license is required for many states and countries, along with age restrictions.

Below is a chart of places that require and don’t require a boating license to operate a jet ski. This information comes from the US Coast Guard, to get more info go here.

StateRequire A License
American SamoaYes
District of ColumbiaYes
New HampshireYes
New JerseyYes
New MexicoYes
New YorkYes
North CarolinaYes
North DakotaYes
Northern Mariana IslandsNo
Puerto RicoYes
Rhode IslandYes
South CarolinaYes
South DakotaNo
West VirginiaYes

More than 80% of places listed in the chart above require a license to drive a boat or jet ski. As you can see, having a boating license is a must for most places.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Drive A Jet Ski?

Every state and country is different about the driving age for a jet ski or a boat.

Some states require you to be at least 18-years-old, while others allow 12-year-olds who have a boating license with an 18-year-old or greater with supervision riding with them. Many states don’t allow solo jet ski rides until the rider is over 16 or older and has taken the boater safety course.

The age requirements vary, but the US Coast Guard has a helpful chart that gives more info.

How To Get A Jet Ski License

Getting a jet ski license is as simple as going to, watching videos, and taking a test.

You will need to pay when you pass the test, and you’ll get proof you can print out that day and something in the mail.

Every state is different, and some jet ski license permits may not work in every state.

Also, some states may require anyone under 18 to go to physical classes and pass the tests.

Should You Get A Jet Ski License?

Not every state requires a jet ski or boating license, so it begs the question if you should do it?

Even if your state does not require a boating license, you should still get one. Things change, even if you have been boating all your life, I bet you’ll still learn something. For example, did you know that some jet skis have brakes and a few have suspension?

Also, it’s not hard, and you learn more about boating than you did before. It makes everyone safer on the water, and you won’t regret taking it.

What You’ll Learn When Getting A Boating License

Getting your boating license will teach you many things about driving and owning a boat. Here are just a few things you’ll learn.

  1. Boating Safety: You will learn how to identify and navigate the water, as well as how to avoid collisions and other accidents.
  2. Rules of the Water: You will learn about the rules and regulations governing boating in your area, including speed limits, navigation rules, and right-of-way regulations.
  3. Navigation: Buoys, no wake-zones, beacons and more navigational items.
  4. Boat Maintenance: Many states require you to learn basic boat maintenance and what to do with old oil, so you don’t dirty up the waters.
  5. Emergency Procedures: You will learn how to respond in the event of an emergency, including how to use safety equipment such as life jackets and distress signals.
  6. Pull Sports: Some states have sections on pull sports and the safety that goes along with it.
  7. Environmental Awareness: You will learn about the importance of protecting the marine environment, and how to minimize your impact on the ecosystem while boating.

Jet Ski Safety Gear

Not only do you need a license to operate a jet ski or boat in many states, but you’re also required to have safety gear on your vessel at all times.

Some of these items include a life jacket, safety lanyard, whistle and more as covered in my jet ski safety gear guide.

For other jet ski accessories, I have a post that covers that here.

Why Are Boating License A Thing?

Boating licenses have not always been around, it’s a fairly new thing.

Boating and jet skis have taken off lately, and with these things getting more powerful every year, accidents started to happen more often. You also had people who didn’t know the rules of the water, so something needed to be done.

Most states and countries now require you to take and pass a boating test before you’re allowed on the water. A lot of the focus has been on jet skis, as people tend to be more careless.

Not enough people who own jet skis don’t know about the different driving modes and keys that can help new riders along with safety features.

Do You Need A License To Rent A Jet Ski?

Most jet ski rental places will require you to have a jet ski license if the state requires it.

Keep in mind, a boating license in one state may not work in another state. So, if you’re on vacation, make sure to take the test for that state.

Where To Keep Jet Ski License?

Not many talk about this, but you’ll often get a print out of your proof of taking the test and get something in the mail.

It’s often paper, so it will get destroyed in the water. So, laminate it if you don’t get a plastic card.

One thing I do is take a picture of it with my phone, so I always have a copy. I also will keep it in my dry bag or attach it to my life jacket if I can.

Do You Need A License To Own A Jet Ski?

You do not need a boating license to buy or sell a jet ski.

A jet ski dealership will not ask for your boating license, but will have info to help you get one.

There is also no license needed to tow a jet ski on a trailer behind your truck or car.

You will be asked for your jet ski license when being pulled over by water patrol or renting a jet ski.

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