The Handbook of Illinois: Boating Laws and Responsibilities

The Handbook of Illinois: Boating Laws and Responsibilities


The Handbook of Illinois: Boating Laws and Responsibilities is the official boating handbook developed for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The handbook introduces you to Illinois laws governing boating and provides general information about safe vessel operation on Illinois waterways.

Whether you decide to go canoeing and exploring at Starved Rock State Park, boating on the 273-mile long Illinois River, or skiing on the serene waters of Lake Sara, Illinois offers diverse boating opportunities for boaters of all types.

Use this handbook to familiarize yourself with steps to make all your boating outings safe and enjoyable. Remember, safety on Illinois waterways is the responsibility of all boaters. 

Topics include:

  • Vessel Basics
  • Navigation Rules
  • Nighttime Navigation
  • Emergencies
  • Personal Watercraft (PWCs)
  • Illinois Boating Laws and Regulations
  • Required Equipment
  • Skiing
  • And much more…

Boater Education

You may have heard that you need a boating license to operate your boat, but what you really need is a boaters safety course. Whether or not your state requires education, it can reduce boating accidents and injuries on the water. Boaters can keep themselves and their passengers safe by learning about responsible boat operation, etiquette, and the rules of the waterways.

All persons between 12 and 17 years of age who operate a powered boat or PWC must successfully complete an Illinois-approved boat education course.