Tennessee’s Boater Safety Education Program

Tennessee joins 45 other states that have educational requirements for operating a boat or PWC on state waters.

Once you complete this Tennessee-approved online boaters safety course, you are prepared to satisfy the educational requirement for Tennessee.

It’s the Law!

Get Safe. Get Certified.

Who Needs the Card?

Anyone born after January 1, 1989, and operating a motorized vessel of more than 8.5 horsepower, must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam.

Although Tennessee residents are allowed to take the online Boat Tennessee Course, the online certificate will not be accepted as meeting the requirements of the law.

Note: Anyone born before January 1, 1989, is not required to have education, but may still complete the online course and receive the Tennessee Boater Education Certificate. Completing this Tennessee-approved course allows you to boat on other state waters that require education and can also earn you a discount on your boat and PWC insurance.

Age Restrictions

To operate a motorized vessel of more than 8.5 horsepower:

  • Those less than 12 years old must have a supervisor on board who is at least 18 years old and able to take immediate control of the vessel. The supervisor, if born after January 1, 1989, also must have a Boating Safety Education Certificate issued by the TWRA.
  • Those 12 years old or older operating alone must have a Boating Safety Education Certificate issued by the TWRA.

Those under 16 years of age may not rent a personal watercraft (PWC).


All states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)


Tennessee law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry the Card Vessel operators who obtain the Tennessee Boater Education Certificate should carry the card on board the vessel when boating in states that require proof of boat education.

Penalty Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.

For More Information

For details about the boater education law, which courses are approved, the in-person exam, and testing locations, visit http://www.tn.gov/twra/article/boating-safety-education.

Quick Links

Is the Boating Card the same as a Boating License?

The Tennessee Boater Education Certificate is proof that you have successfully completed an approved boating safety course. Since the boater education card does not expire and does not need to be renewed, it is not called a Tennessee Boating License.

How do I get my state boating license?

You may have heard that you need the Tennessee Boat License to operate your boat, but what you really need is the Tennessee Boater Education Certificate. You can get the Tennessee Boater Education Certificate by taking this Boat License Safety course at boat-ed.com. Find out if you need the card.

Did you lose your card? Replace it here.

Got the Card? Get the Handbook

The Handbook of Tennessee Boating Laws and Responsibilities, developed for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and available online only at boat-ed.com

For New and Experienced Tennessee Boaters

Approved by:

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
PO Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 781-6500