Maine’s boater education law was recently passed by the legislature and goes into effect in 2024. Beginning Jan. 1, a person born on or after Jan. 1, 1999, may not operate a motorboat of 25 horsepower or greater for recreational boating purposes on inland waters in the state or territorial waters, unless that person is 12 years of age or older and has completed a boater safety and education course. There are a few exemptions, such as for registered Maine guides (hunting, fishing, and recreational guides only), the commercial fishing industry, daily boat renters, and merchant mariners.
The course teaches participants how to safely operate and maintain a boat, Maine boating laws, how to prepare for boating emergencies, environmental concerns, including how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, and more. The course may be taken in-person or online.
Online Boating Education Courses
There are currently three vendors that provide Maine online boating education courses. Once you have successfully completed this self-paced online course, you will immediately be issued a boater safety and education course certificate. The online courses are:
- BoatUS Foundation: This foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions boating safety. This is a free online course that requests a $10 donation.
- Boat-Ed: This online course costs $34.95.
- BoatTests101: This online course costs $24.95.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife volunteers throughout the state teach the in-person boating education course. Upon successfully completing and passing the final exam, you will be issued a boating education certificate that is recognized in all 50 states and the six territories. Check the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website periodically to find a course near you.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers its Boat America in-person boating education course. This course meets the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators standards and is approved to be taught in Maine. Simply enter your zip code into the search feature and select only the Boat America courses; the other courses they offer do not meet the NASBLA requirements. Upon successfully completing and passing the final exam, you will be issued a boating education certificate that is recognized in all 50 states and the six territories. Check this link to find a course: USCGAUX: Public Boating Courses
Maine Boating Education Equivalency Exam
The equivalency exam is a 75-question, multiple-choice exam designed for experienced boaters. This test is proctored by Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife staff and the volunteers that teach the Maine classroom boating education safety courses. Testing dates and locations may be found on the MDIFW webpage and pre-registration is required. To prepare for this exam, it is recommended you review The Boaters Guide to Maine’s Boating Laws and Responsibilities (PDF).