How to get your Boating Safety Certificate (Mich DNR)

If you live in Michigan and want to operate a boat, you will need to have a Boating Safety Certificate (aka: Boater Safety Card).

Michigan requires that children be at least 14 years old to operate personal watercraft or other vessels.

How to get your Boating Safety Certificate (Mich DNR)

Typically, if you’re near the Lake St. Clair area, you would go to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Marine Division (aka: the Boathouse) and take a boater’s safety class there. However, they are not currently doing in-person classes.

How to get your Boating Safety Certificate (Mich DNR)

So, your other option is to take the Boat-Ed virtual class, which is offered via the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The class is online, takes several hours, and costs $30.00.

Get your Boating Safety Certificate


Michigan Boating Laws & Responsibilities Handbook (this 29-page long PDF is also offered as a free, small book. You will want to familiarize yourself with everything here)

How to get your Boating Safety Certificate (Mich DNR)

What is the Boater Education Card?

The Boating Safety Certificate is proof that you have successfully completed all of the components of an approved boater safety course. This card allows boating in Michigan.

You Must Carry the Card

Vessel operators who are required to have the Michigan Boater Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer. Not carrying your Michigan Boater Card when it is required can result in a fine.


For visiting boaters, all states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)

I do not have a driver’s license. Can I still get the Michigan Boater Education Certificate?

Yes. You are not required to have a state driver’s license in order to obtain a Boater Education Card.



The Hull Identification Number is a serial number used to track a boat’s history, make, and model.

Never deface the HIN and ensure that the lettering follows the standards for color, placement, and size.

The capacity plate is significant because it details the maximum number of people, maximum gross load, and often the maximum horsepower. We also introduced the equation needed to calculate the maximum horsepower if it is absent from the capacity plate.

Remember that the maximum gross load is a combination of all the people, equipment, tools and fuel. Take all of these factors into account when trying to determine whether one is within the maximum gross load. One may need to adjust the number of people, on a vessel, if occupants weigh over 150 pounds, as this is the weight used to calculate the maximum person capacity. Therefore, it’s possible to go over the maximum gross load, even without exceeding the maximum person capacity.

Overloading or overpowering a boat can result in damaged property and personal injury. So, when in doubt, always be cautious with the maximum gross load and maximum person capacity.


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