Boater Education / Operator
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about boater education and operator requirements. Additional frequently asked questions are found at boater laws and the water safety digest, which includes equipment requirements for your boat. If you have any further questions, please call (800) 792-1112.
Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993.
- 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.
Fees start at $20 for a basic course.
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 18 years of age and can lawfully operate the motorboat and is on board the motor boat when underway.
- is at least 13 years of age and have successfully completed a boater education course approved by the Department.
NOTE: Children under 13 are specifically prohibited from operating a PWC unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age.
To operate a PWC, the operator must meet one of the following:
- Born on or after September 1, 1993 and passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, or
- Born before September 1, 1993, or,
- 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, or
- At least 13 years of age and have passed a boater education course or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.
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 requirements as stated above.
Persons subject to this law must have a picture identification card and a boater certification card issued by the department in their possession.
A person born before September 1, 1993.
Online courses are available.
Courts have the authority to require a boater education course for violators of certain offenses.
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 the cause of most boating fatalities.