Many questions are asked about the Boaters Safety Certificate and the Boat License. They are NOT the same thing. For an explanation from the NJ State Police, please refer to Q1 and Q8 under the NJState Police FAQ:
Q1 Do I need a boat safety certificate?
A1 Yes, if you are operating a personal watercraft (Jet Ski, Wave Runner, etc.) on the waters of the State of New Jersey you are required to possess a New Jersey boat safety certificate. As of June 1, 2009, all power vessel operators, regardless of date of birth, will be required to possess a boat safety certificate.
Exemptions: A boat safety certificate is not required for non-powered vessels.
Q8 Do I need a boat license?
A8 A boat license is a separate document from a boat safety certificate and is required for operation on non-tidal water (water where the tide does not change) in the State of New Jersey. The boat license is not a replacement for a boat safety certificate, it is an additional requirement. On non tidal waters in the State of New Jersey you may need both, a boat safety certificate and a boat license. To obtain a boat license, go to your nearest NJ Division of Motor Vehicle Commission Facility. Persons must bring their NJ Boat Safety Certificate with them to apply for a boat license if they are required to possess a certificate for vessel operation.
Check out the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (AKA DMV) Website:
EXEMPTIONS: A boat license is not required for non-powered vessels.
Persons operating vessels less than 1 horse power, vessels powered by 12 volt electric trolling motors or vessels 12' or longer with less than 10 total HP are exempt from the license requirement.
Out-of-state residents with written proof of the successful completion of a boat safety course are exempt from the boat license requirement.