Iowa Boater Education

Welcome to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Program! The goals of the DNR Boater Education Program are as follows:

  • Educate Iowans about boater safety
  • Continue to promote boater education in the schools
  • Train volunteer instructors to teach boater education
  • Make Iowa's waterways safe through education

By providing boater education to the public, the DNR will help ensure the safety of recreational opportunities on Iowa's lakes and rivers. There are approximately 234,335 registered boats in Iowa and over 300,000 acres of water to navigate upon. Education is the key to making these waterways safe for everyone to enjoy.

Boater education is mandatory for any person 12 - 17 years old, who will operate a motorboat over ten horsepower or personal watercraft (PWC). Families can spend quality time together by learning to be safe on the water. Whether you choose to go fishing, sailing, pleasure boating, canoeing, or kayaking, taking a boater education course could save your life!

There are two ways that a person can earn an education certificate

Take an Iowa DNR Home-study Boating Education Course. To request materials contact

Take an online course

Boat Education (1)
Boater Exam (2)
 Boat US
BoatUS Foundation (3)
  1. Only has hundreds of real-life boating videos plus interactive animations-you'll feel like you're on the water! Master the same content Iowa DNR selected for its classroom boating safety course. is split into fast-paced, super-short segments, and you'll have fun and frequent "learning checks" along the way. A happy student wrote: "This was just plain a good experience. The course was organized well, it flowed smoothly, practice makes for a good final exam outcome, and the billing portion was right on track. In sum, I can say only good things about this boater education service." No charge until you pass, and you print a temporary boating safety course certificate. The cost is $34.95, plus $5 to Iowa DNR for your permanent card.

  2. Through's online Iowa Boating Safety Course, you'll discover an interactive environment which will result in your Watercraft Safety Certificate! This is the only online course that offers a fully narrated and animated study guide with over 40 interactive exercises and upwards of 400 detailed illustrations; these visual aids in every exam question are a must for visual learners! The Iowa Watercraft Safety Certificate (mistakenly referred to as the Iowa boating license) is proof that you've passed a boating safety course approved by the DNR. To get your certificate, simply complete the course and exam at your own pace. Once completed, you can print your Temporary Certificate immediately and go boating right away! Visit today and find out why students love our course! Cost: $29.95 + $5 state fee for the Boater Exam course.

  3. The BoatUS Foundation's Online Boating Safety Course is the only free course approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Offered through the Foundation's Online Learning Center, the new course includes videos that demonstrate important safety devices such as visual distress signals, how to prevent and extinguish fires aboard your boat, and the best way to fit a life jacket to a child so they will not slip out. Animations demonstrate important navigation rules and the course is loaded with photos of real boats and boating equipment from start to finish. This free course is available because of the generous donations of BoatUS members.

Going to Canada?  Here is important information regarding Mandatory Education you will need to know,

Canada Boater Education