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Boating FAQ

Find answers to common boating related questions:

Am I required to have a license to drive a boat?

You don’t need a license to operate a boat. There are age limits and education requirements but no real “boating license.” Having a drivers license (for driving a car) has nothing to do with being capable of, or legally allowed to, operate a boat.

Nebraska law requires any boat operator born after December 31, 1985 to successfully complete a boating education course. When you pass a boating course, you will get a card or certificate that would serve as your proof of education.

If you are renting a boat, the boat rental agency may have its own rules, above and beyond Nebraska’s education law. These rules are usually dictated by their liability insurance.

I lost my education card, how do I get a duplicate one?

Everyone who has received a plastic, wallet-size Boater Education Card from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can receive a replacement. To find your record, we need your date of birth and last name. If your address has changed since you took your exam, please send us your current address as well

Contact us at 402-471-0641 with your information. It will take approximately 10 to 15 business days to receive your new card.

Is an education card needed to rent a boat?

When renting any craft powered by gas, diesel, or electric in Nebraska, boaters born after December 31, 1985 must have proof of successful completion of a boating safety class.

Can kids operate a boat or personal watercraft?

As long as the child operator fulfills the education and age requirements of the law, they can operate a boat or personal watercraft (jet ski). The law only applies to operators who were born after December 31, 1985 and the person must be at least 14 years of age.

What courses are acceptable to meet boater education requirements?

Currently only courses offered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Visit our boater education page to learn more.

Are boating safety education cards issued in another state valid in Nebraska?

A certificate from another state is acceptable provided it is for a NASBLA-approved course and accepted by your home state (for non-residents). Residents of Nebraska must successfully complete the Nebraska course.

How much does it cost to get a duplicate Nebraska boater safety card?

Currently there is no charge for a replacement card.

Do non-residents need to register their boats in Nebraska?

No. States have a reciprocation agreement about boat registrations, just like with automobile registrations. Just because you drive your car in another state doesn’t mean you have to get license plates in that state. If your boat is legally and currently registered in the state of primary use (the state that you use it most often) and you are not a resident of Nebraska, then you can use your boat on Nebraska waters for up to 60 days without getting an Nebraska registration for it. You must carry your primary-use-state registration with you onboard the vessel, and you are bound by all Nebraska rules and laws.

If your boat is not required to be registered in your state of residence, then you need to carry proof of residency with you, to prove that you live out of state. You still are bound by all Nebraska rules and laws.

I purchased a used canoe or kayak, how do I register it?

Nebraska law does not require the registration of any vessel not powered by gas, diesel or electric. Paddle craft owners have the option to register their vessel. The owner may opt to register if the paddlecraft is going to be taken to a state that requires paddle craft to be registered. Registration takes place at the County Treasurer’s office of the owners county of residence.

Do I need insurance for my boat?

Nebraska law does not require that you carry boat insurance. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. Some insurance companies offer discounts for boat owners who take a boating safety class or skills class. Talk to your insurance agent.

How do I register my new boat?

New registrations are obtained from the County Treasurer of the owner’s County of residence. If the boat is newer than a 1972 model it will require a title (much like your car). Expiration decals will be issued at the time of registration. Nebraska boat registrations all expire on December 31st of the year of the sticker. Learn more on our boating registration page.