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.

1. Who must take boater education?

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.

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:

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.

To operate a PWC, the operator must meet one of the following:

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 requirements as 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 certification card issued by the department in their possession.

7. Are there any exemptions to the mandatory education law?

A person born before September 1, 1993.

8. Is there another way a person can get certified, other than taking an approved classroom course?

Online courses are available.

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 the cause of most boating fatalities.

11. Where can I learn more about Boater Education?

We have information about the program, weather and buoy symbols...even a quiz on our Boater Education page. Check out our course schedule, by city or date, for a class in your area.

12.   What are the frequently asked questions about boating laws?


13. Requirements in other States

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