Welcome to New Mexico Boating Education


Anyone born on or after January 1st, 1989 who intends to operate a motorboat must successfully complete a state certified boating education course. Register Today!


Which state parks are open to boating?

Who is required to take the boating education course?

Everyone is encouraged to take a boating education course. A person born on or after January 1, 1989 who operates a motorboat (including a sailboat) on the states waters shall possess a division issued boater education card and have it on-board the motorboat during its operation unless the person:

  • Possesses and has onboard the motorboat a valid marine operator license issued by the US Coast Guard that covers the motorboat being operated.

  • Legally operating a motorboat that is exempt from vessel registration requirements and applicable rules and is being used for Law Enforcement or official government business.

  • Is not a New Mexico resident and possesses and has onboard the motorboat a current boater education card or certificate issued by another state or country whose requirements meet NASBLA minimum standards.

  • Has purchased the motorboat within the prior 30 days and possess and has onboard the motorboat the bill of sale or motorboat registration that documents the purchase date.

  • Is renting a motorboat for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days, is an authorized operator of the rental motorboat and has reviewed and received the information listed in Subsection B of NMAC from the rental agent.

A person that has successfully completed a boating safety course or correspondence internet course may use a boating education safety certificate in lieu of a division issued boater education card for up to 45 days from the certificates date of issue if the certificate is onboard the motorboat during operation.

A person that has moved to New Mexico may use a boater education card, certificate, or other document issued by a state or country in lieu of a divison issued boater education card for up to 45 days after moving to New Mexico to operate a motorboat if the original certificate, card or document is onboard the motorboat during operation.

What does it cost to take a Boater Education Class?

There is NO FEE to take a ranger lead classroom- 8 hour Boating Safety Course offered by the New Mexico State Parks Division. Upon passing the course, you will receive a certificate of completion and a coupon for a free night of camping. You will also receive your Boater Education Card in the mail approximately 30 days after the class. New Mexico State Parks also offers 4 on-line state approved boater education courses.

Boat US Foundation is a FREE on-line service. There is a minimal fee associated with the 3 additional on-line providers. All online providers will issue, with successful completion, a certificate and Boater Education Card.

Does my Boater Education Card expire?

No, once the student passes the course, your Boater Safety card is good for a lifetime.

Does my New Mexico Boating Card work in other states?

The State Park issued Boater Education Card is honored in most states in the country unless that state that does not have an education reciprocity agreement with New Mexico. When you move to, or travel to a new state, it is your responsibility to check the law in that state.

Does my boat need a safety equipment inspection?

New Mexico State Parks Marine Enforcement Officers (MEO’s) and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary offer courtesy marine inspections. These inspections are free of charge and will alert you to any deficiencies you may have on your vessel. There are no penalties incurred should a deficiency be found. However, once you are on the water, every vessel in NM is subject to being stopped and inspected for compliance with the Boating Safety Laws. Any deficiencies on the water can result in enforcement action by the officer.

What safety equipment am I required to have on my boat?

Required safety equipment varies with how the boat is propelled and the size of the vessel. This is a general guideline with some exceptions. For a full list of safety equipment and exceptions click here.

  • Personal Floating Device (PDF) for everyone on board
  • Type IV throwable PFD (Some exceptions)
  • Fire Extinguisher(Exceptions include non-motorized vessels)
  • Rope
  • Whistle or horn
  • Paddle
  • Bailing Bucket

As needed items

  • Navigation Lights (If Applicable)
  • Registration
  • Boater Ed Card
  • Power ventilation (If applicable)
  • Backfire Flame Arrestor (If Applicable)
  • Ignition Safety Switch (Kill Switch)

How old do you have to be to operate a motorboat by yourself?

No person under the age of 13 shall operate a motorboat unless under an adult's onboard supervision. The child operating the motorboat (including sailboats) must have a Boater Education Card in order to operate a motorboat by themselves. There is no minimum age to operate a canoe, kayak or other manually propelled craft.

Click here to sign up for your FREE Boating Safety Course.

What is A.I.S (Aquatic Invasive Species?)

An Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) is any non-native plant, animal, or pathogen that can harm our economy, environment and human, animal, or plant health. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, along with state, federal and private partners, are working diligently to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species. Click here for more info.

Need more info?

Contact Chris Bolen, Boating Education Coordinator, for more information.

  • 5575 S. Valley Dr.
  • Las Cruces, NM 88007
  • 1-575-523-6015
  • chris.bolen@state.nm.us

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