Party Boat Program

Program Summary

The Texas Party Boat Operator Licensing Program is a program to provide a combination of on water experience as well as a course of study and examination process that complies with the Texas House Bill 12, Section 19A, passed in 2007 by the Texas Legislature. For more details on the law and how it pertains to you, please see the following links with full text of legislation.

Application Process

Applicant should download Party Boat Operator License Application (PWD 1207 media download(PDF 418.1 KB)) or obtain an application from a TPWD field office. The completed application can either be mailed to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Party Boat Operator Program, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, or taken in to a TPWD field office.

License and Inspection Expiration: The dates of expiration for either the license or the inspection is the last day they are valid. Both license and inspection can be renewed starting within 90 days of the expiration date and will add on the appropriate time period to the date of expiration in order to provide full time credit. The party boat operators license may be renewed up to 60 days after expiration. On the 61st day, they must apply as a "new" license and meet all the requirements.

Basic Applicant Requirements

Party Boat Operator License is required of operators of charter vessels (excluding sailboats) carrying more than six passengers and with a length of 30 or more feet, operating on inland waters. The only exemption from this requirement is if the operator holds a USCG Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) License, often referred to as a "6-pack license," or higher level of Captain's license issued by the USCG.


The three major components to the exam procedure are:

  1. Completion of the formal course of instruction providing the knowledge required to successfully complete the Texas Boater Education Certification (Part A – obtain Texas Boater Education Certificate as prerequisite to take PBO license exam).
  2. Study Guide Outline media download(Word 190.5 KB) with associated reference materials to provide knowledge required to pass the required licensing examinations (Part B – Advanced Study).
  3. The PBO License Exam – Exams are proctored and may be given by designated TPWD Examiners ONLY. Applicant should contact TPWD Boater Education Office to arrange the proctored exam before submitting full application packet. Call (512) 389-4846 or contact by email TPWD Boater Education for more information or to set up an exam.

Exams may be taken up to 4 times in one month, and passing exam must be sent by TPWD Examiner directly to: Texas Parks Wildlife Department, Boater Education Program, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, fax number 512-389-8042 or send scanned completed exam by email TPWD Boater Education. For more information, please see detailed list of exam procedures linked below.

To prepare for the PBO license exam (Part B), applicants should study the materials referenced in the Study Guide Outline media download(Word 190.5 KB). It is recommended that each Boat Owner obtain a reference copy of these materials for operator study purposes and quick future reference by all vessel operators and crew.

Texas Party Boat Operator License Exam Procedure media download(PDF 85.5 KB)

Exam Dates

Inspection Process

Application for Annual Party Boat Inspection (PWD 1208 media download(PDF 97.7 KB)) – $132.00

Review the PWD 1208 media download(PDF 97.7 KB) to ensure that your vessel can pass inspection on all categories. Submit the completed application and required $132.00 fee to apply for an inspection. Once the application is processed, you will be provided with a receipt and a Texas Game Warden, or authorized inspector will contact you to schedule the vessel inspection and complete the Inspection Certificate.

What Boats Need This Inspection?

A party boat operated on the inland waters of Texas is subject to an annual safety inspection; requires the operator to be licensed and complete the required boat safety courses; imposes capacity limits on the number of passengers; and requires a minimum amount of liability insurance to be carried on the vessel.

A "party boat" is defined as a vessel operated by the owner or an employee of the owner, and rented or leased for a group recreational event for more than six passengers.

This does not apply to:

  1. a boat that is less than 30 feet in length;
  2. a sailboat;
  3. a livery vessel; or
  4. any vessel used for training or instructional purposes while it is not being used as a party boat.

The annual water safety inspection is not required for a vessel carrying passengers for hire that has a Certificate of Inspection (COI) issued by the US Coast Guard. The COI is required for those vessels that operate on navigable (federal) waters by definition. If a vessel has such a document (required annually by the USCG), then a State COI is not required.

A complete listing of categories and items to be inspected can be found on the PWD 1208B – Annual Safety Inspection for Party Boats (Sample) media download(PDF 293.3 KB). You are strongly recommended to review these items prior to requesting and paying for an inspection.