Boater Education FAQ


Who must take boater education?
What does the course cost?
Who must be certified to operate a vessel alone?
Who can operate a PWC?
Is there a minimum operator age?
What forms of identification does a person have to carry on board?
Are there any exemptions to the mandatory education law?
Is there another way a person can get certified, other than taking an approved classroom course?
Can I be required to take a boater education course?
May I have an open container on a boat?
Where can I learn more about Boater Education?
Requirements in other States


  1. Who must take boater education?
    Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 who operates any vessel over 15 horsepower, wind-blown vessel over 14 feet and all personal watercraft.

    Some violations of the Water Safety Act also require course completion. A partial list of these violations is in the Digest of the Water Safety Act.
  2. What does the course cost?
    Fees start at $20 for a basic course.
  3. Who must be certified to operate a vessel alone?
    In Texas a person cannot operate a windblown vessel over 14 feet in length, a motorboat with more than 15 horsepower, or personal watercraft unless he/she:
    was born on or after September 1, 1993 and has passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.
    is at least 13 years of age and have successfully completed a boater education course approved by the Department.
  4. Who can operate a PWC?
    NOTE: Children under 13 are specifically prohibited from operating a PWC unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age and is legally authorized to operate a PWC.
    To operate a PWC, the operator must meet one of the following:
    1. Born on or after September 1, 1993 and passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
    2. Persons requiring boater education who have not competed it must be accompanied by a person 18 years of age (who can legally operate) or older.
  5. Is there a minimum operator age?
    To operate a vessel alone in Texas, a boater must be 13 years of age to operate a vessel of more than 15 horsepower; or windblown vessel over 14 feet in length; and meet the education requirements stated above.
  6. What forms of identification does a person have to carry on board?
    Persons subject to this law must have a picture identification card and a boater education certification card issued by the department in their possession.
  7. Are there any exemptions to the mandatory education law?
    A person may purchase a one-time 15 day exemption any place licenses are sold..
  8. Is there another way a person can get certified, other than taking an approved classroom course?
    A person may take an online certification course.  Approved courses are listed on the Boater Education web page.
  9. Can I be required to take a boater education course?
    Courts have the authority to require a boater education course for violators of certain offenses.
  10. May I have an open container on a boat?
    Open containers are legal, but operators of boats are subject to boating while intoxicated laws, similar to driving a vehicle. Operators or passengers may also be subject to public intoxication laws. Drinking and boating is DANGEROUS and a major contributing factor of most boating fatalities.
  11. Requirements in other States
    Visiting Adult Boaters may boat in others states as long as they meet the requirements of the visited state.  Always contact local authorities for local rules and laws.
    Reciprocity Requirements for Visiting Boaters