Boat Operator Certification

With the Boat Operator's Certification Program, USPS will certify USPS members at various levels of recreational boating proficiency.  We expect that these certifications will be recognized across the boating community, both domestically and internationally.  In the United States, The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has asked congress to authorize the Transportation Secretary to establish requirements for standards of proficiency for recreational boaters.  We intend to have USPS certification accepted as the above proof and be accepted as the national certificate for the USA.

Regarding international recognition, we plan to have certain USPS certifications meet or exceed the requirements of UN Resolution 40, International Certificate for the Operation of Pleasure Craft.  Under this resolution, boaters holding national certificates will be able to obtain international certification, much like licensed drivers can obtain international drivers licenses.

USPS currently plans four levels of Boat Operator Certification:

  • Inland Navigator
  • Coastal Navigator
  • Advanced Coastal Navigator
  • Offshore Navigator

Advantages for Members

A certificate of operator proficiency will be of value to USPS members when:

  • Renting, chartering or leasing a boat, especially in another country
  • Obtaining insurance
  • Engaging in competition
  • Speaking in public
  • Testifying as an expert witness
  • Lobbying
  • Serving on an advisory panel
  • Being quoted in the media
  • Being introduced in a public setting
  • Publishing articles or books


Certification at any level requires successful completion of all prescribed elements including:

  • USPS courses - completions are tracked at USPS Headquarters
  • USPS and/or non-USPS seminars - signed off by instructor and tracked at Headquarters
  • Skill demonstrations on the water or, in some cases, ashore - signed-off by trained certifier and tracked at headquarters (some are US Sailing programs)

To be certified, a member must be at least 16 years of age, be mentally and physically capable of operating a boat, and have sufficient visual and auditory sensory ability to do so. Holding a driver's license will suffice to certify meeting these requirements.

Inland Navigator (IN) Requirements:

  • Courses
    • NASBLA approved safe boating course
    • Seamanship (or S 101 and S 102)
    • Engine Maintenance (EM)
    • Marine Electronics or Marine Electrical Systems or ME 101
  • Seminars
    • How to Use a Chart (CHT) (or Piloting, or Chart Smart or Boating)
    • Onboard Weather Forecasting (WF) or Weather course or Weather Modules
    • Using GPS (GPS) or the new P or AP course
    • VHF Radio and VHF/DSC Marine Radio (or ME 102 or Marine Communications Systems)
    • 2 additional seminars or 1 additional course
  • Skills
    • BPH - Basic Powerboat Handling skill demonstration or US Sailing Safe Powerboat Handling on-the-water program
    • FE - Use of Fire Extinguishers
  • Optional Endorsements
    • IW - Inland Waterways (Navigating Rivers, Dams and Locks seminar)
    • PAD - Paddle craft (canoes and kayaks) - Paddle Smart seminar
    • SA - Sailboating (or Sail or Sail Modules

Coastal Navigator (CN) Requirements

  • Prerequisite
    • IN Certification
  • Courses
    • Piloting
    • Marine Electronics (or ME 102 or Marine Communication Systems)
    • Cruise Planning
  • Seminars
    • Using Radar (RAD)
    • The Mariner's Compass (COMP)
    • 2 additional seminars or one course
  • Skills
    • NAV - On-Water Navigation
    • PD - Use of Pyrotechnic Distress Signals
  • Optional Endorsements
    • IN Endorsements plus:
      CAN - Canadian Regulations
      MEX - Mexican regulations

Note:  CN certification to operate a sailboat requires the SA endorsement. CN certification for paddle craft requires PAD.

Advanced Coastal Navigator and Offshore Navigator requirements will be posted when finalized.

Note: The material above is under refinement and is subject to change. For more information and any updates not reflected here refer to the Boat Operator Certification Page.




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