Everglades has developed a free boater education course to orient and educate boaters to the unique features of the park's marine waters. Our overall goal is to protect marine resources while providing world-class recreational opportunities. In the park's 2015 General Management Plan, park stakeholders and managers identified boater education as a key strategy.
Get Your Boating Certificate
This course and accompanying certificate is now mandatory for nearly everyone* operating a powerboat within the marine waters of the park. Upon successful completion of the course and test, boaters can print out the certificate to carry with them while operating a vessel in the park.
*For limited exemption details, see drop down in "Boating-Specific Questions."
Frequently Asked Questions
As stated in the 2015 Final GMP, “A mandatory boater education (certificate) program would be implemented to provide all boaters with information, not only on boat safety in the park, but also on the key elements of this plan related to use of the park’s marine areas. This information would help them avoid harming shallow sea bottom, seagrass, and wildlife, and operate watercraft in a manner that respects other users. This program would encourage boaters to become partners in resource stewardship.”
Based on extensive public involvement over many years in the GMP process, there was widespread public support for instituting this program in order to better protect important park marine resources and enhance visitor use and enjoyment throughout the park’s more than 530,000 acres of marine waters. In addition, the State of Florida identified boater education as one of the best ways to increase resource protection and stewardship and avoid damage to seagrass and other resources in shallow waters.
The program consists of three parts: the education course, the course assessment, and the boating certificate. The course includes text, maps, and a few short videos and interactive demonstrations on boating and navigation. The assessment is a series of questions to test your knowledge of the course content. Once at least 80% of the questions are answered correctly you can request your certificate.
The free course will focus on resource protection, safety, visitor enjoyment, basic navigation and management zone information, and respectful boating within all marine areas, from the Ten Thousand Islands to Florida Bay.
The average time to complete the program including requesting your certificate should be 45 minutes to 1 hour.
There will be an assessment (test) at the end of the course. Once completed, those that want to use a motorboat in the park will be able to get a certificate that can be saved to a cell phone or other electronic device, or that can be printed out.
The course is available online in English and Spanish.
Starting August 1st, 2019, Everglades National Park will require all marine boaters to have completed the park’s Boater Education Program. The program has been available for several months in this informal, non-mandatory period. Approximately 4,000 individuals have already taken the course and received their certificate.
There will be a phased approach to enforcement, since this is a new park program. Leading up to the August 1, 2019 start date and in the months that follow, education about the program’s purpose and accessing it will be the primary conversation between park staff and boaters. On July 1 (thirty days in advance of the start date), outreach efforts began with a press release and social media posts, and those efforts will be ongoing to maximize program awareness. Sometime in 2020, once the program is widely known and the public is well aware of the boater education requirement, park rangers will shift their emphasis from “education” to “enforcement” to ensure program compliance.
Program Fees and Certificate Questions
Upon successfully completing the course assessment with a score of 80% or more, users should see a menu item in the navigation menu labeled as "Boating Certificate". A new screen should appear with a button that says "Get Your Certificate". Click this button to view and print your boating certificate.
No, the boater education program is free of charge. Though at one time park managers considered a fee to support administering the program and supporting on-the-water projects (e.g., channel marker maintenance, resource studies), other revenue sources have been identified to meet those needs.
The certificate will not have an expiration date. In the years to come, based on public and stakeholder feedback and changes that may affect boating in the park, there may be additional information provided to boaters through course updates or e-mail alerts to certificate holders.
No, once an individual takes the course and assessment, and receives their certificate, no further action is required. Boat operators just need to have a paper or electronic version of the certificate when boating in the park.
Boaters will be able to print out their certificate or save an electronic version of the certificate on their electronic device. They will need to have either form with them while operating a motor boat in the park.
Nearly everyone operating a motorboat must take the course and obtain a certificate. This includes recreational boaters, including those that rent boats; licensed boat captains, including fishing guides and other tour operators in the park; National Park Service staff; concessioner employees; park cooperators, researchers scientists; and individuals operating a motor boat under a special use permit. The program does not apply to those operating an airboat in the freshwater areas of the park.
A certificate is required to operate any boat, propelled by a combustion engine or electric motor that’s attached to the vessel. This includes canoes, kayaks and sail boats that include an engine. You will not need a certificate for strictly paddling, rowing, or poling a boat, canoe, or kayak but operators of non-motorized vessels are still encouraged to take the free course.
Yes, recreational users transiting directly to/from Everglades City using Indian Key Pass, Sandfly Pass, Rabbit Key Pass, Chokoloskee Pass, and across Chokoloskee Bay, using the most direct route to or from Everglades City, Chokoloskee Island, or Fakahatchee Bay. Boats must remain in transit unless disabled or if weather and sea conditions combine to make safe passage impossible. Direct route transit for safe harbor also applies between the Gulf of Mexico and Flamingo.
The certificate covers the operator and not the boat, so they both must take the course and have a certificate.
No, anyone operating the boat must have their own certificate.
An operator will only have to take the course once, no matter how many boats he/she owns and operates.
Last updated: March 22, 2021