Frequently Asked Questions
Are recreational boaters in Alaska required to have a boat operator license, a state issued boat operator card, or proof of having taken a boating safety course before operating a boat?
The State of Alaska does not have such a requirement for recreational boaters, but highly encourages boaters to take courses.
Where and when can I take a boating course?
Both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Alaska Office of Boating Safety offer nationally-approved boating safety classroom courses in Alaska. Online courses are also available. For more information, visit the Alaska Office of Boating Safety.
When does the U.S. Coast Guard require a captain’s license?
The U.S. Coast Guard requires a captain’s license if people are being transported on any type of mechanically-propelled vessel on waters subject to U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction, for any amount of compensation (including sport fish guiding).
How do I find information about obtaining a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license?
Anchorage – USCG Regional Exam Center 907.271.6736
Juneau – USCG Regional Exam Center 907.463.2458
What boats must be registered in Alaska?
All undocumented powered boats, including non-powered boats with auxiliary power units and tenders of documented boats, used on any water of the state, unless otherwise exempted. “Water of the state” includes all rivers, streams, and lakes, regardless of size, and all salt water within 3 miles of land. “Boat” means a watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, except for:
- A ship’s lifeboat
- A seaplane
- An inspected passenger vessel
- A single air mattress, single inner tube, or other water toy
What boats are exempt from state registration requirements?
- A boat currently registered in another state that is operated less than 90 consecutive days in Alaska
- A boat owned by a government agency at the federal, state, or local level (except that under federal law government boats used for recreation must be registered with the state)
- A boat documented by the U.S. or a foreign government
- While exempt, non-powered boats may register.
Where can I find out if my boat is allowed on a particular lake or river?
Use restrictions on boats, if any, vary widely around the state as does the agency (or agencies) responsible for managing a waterway. For example, if a lake is within a national wildlife refuge, a state park, a national park or a national forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Division of Parks, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service should be contacted respectively. In other cases, the waterway is managed by a municipality or borough. A summary of restrictions is available at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/boating/pdf/akboatmtrrestrictions2009.pdf. However, boaters should still contact the agency directly to confirm accuracy of the information.