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New Jersey phasing in boat licensing

New law requires all boaters born after 1969 to be certified to operate a powerboat

New law requires all boaters born after 1969 to be certified to operate a powerboat

Boaters operating any vessel under power in New Jersey waters must, if they were born after 1969, possess a certification that they have passed a boater safety course under a law that went into effect June 1.

This includes everyone from a sailor with an auxiliary engine to the state’s commercial fisherman working out of ports along the coast, according to Trooper John Iwanowycz, of the State Police Marine Services Unit, which enforces Garden State boating laws.

The state already had required that anyone born after 1979 or operating a personal watercraft earn a certification, Iwanowycz says. He adds that the state is “phasing in a requirement under which by 2009 everybody will be required to be certified.” The minimum age will be pushed back 10 years on June 1 of each of the next two years — to those born after 1959 in 2007 and those born after 1949 in 2008 — before 2009, when all operators of powerboats will have to be certified, he says.

“If you’re going to operate a boat on any state waters you would be required to have [a certification],” with the only exception being private lakes surrounded by property owned by a single individual. The law does not include sailboats, canoes and other engineless boats, he says.

To be certified, boaters need to take a boating safety course. Classes are offered by the United States Power Squadrons, the Coast Guard Reserve and “dozens” of approved private instructors, the trooper says.

Iwanowycz says individuals who are affected by the new law are being offered a “test-out” option. They can take a state police-administered test without having to take the safety course if they have 100 hours of boating experience. If they pass the test, they will be certified. If not, they must take the course, he says.

Testing will be conducted in May and June at the Totowa State Police Headquarters in northern New Jersey on Tuesday nights; at the State Police Division Headquarters in West Trenton on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings; and at the Troop A Headquarters in Buena Vista in southern New Jersey on Monday nights.

For information, call the state police at (609) 882-2000, Ext. 2612, or visit the State Police Web page at and click on the boating section icon.