Before you purchase and register a boat, it is recommended that you sign up for a boat safety course in order to earn your Iowa Watercraft Safety Certificate (often incorrectly referred to as an Iowa boating license). The Watercraft Safety Certificate is proof that you have passed a boating safety course and know the laws for boating. 

All machine-operated vessels need to be registered and issued a certificate of number in order to legally operate on Iowa waterways. Always be sure to keep your boat registration paperwork and title or proof of ownership on board.

Iowa Regulations and Laws for Boating

If you plan to operate a boat, it is important that you know and understand the boating rules of the road. Every boater who uses the waterways is responsible for safe navigation and taking action necessary to avoid accidents. Remember to practice good seamanship, be aware of what is around you and maintain a safe distance from other vessels.

In addition to offering boat safety courses, many states also provide safe boating handbooks that can help you learn the laws. These handbooks contain general information about safe boat operation and how to be a responsible boater.