Tennessee Boating Laws and Regulations

Do you need Tennessee Boating education?


You need education if you were born after 1/1/1989 and will be operating a motorized vessel over 8.5 hp in Tennessee.

You must have been born on or before 1/1/1989 to take this online course.

You do not have to be a resident of Tennessee to take this online course.


Boating education is currently required in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

Age and Operator Restrictions

To operate a motorized vessel of more than 8.5 hp:

  • 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 Tennessee Boater Education Certificate issued by the TWRA.
  • Those 12 years old or older operating alone must have a Tennessee Boater Education Certificate issued by the TWRA.

Those under 16 years of age may not rent a PWC.


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 are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

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

Is the Boating Card the same as the Boating License?

The Tennessee Boater Education Certificate is proof that you have successfully completed all of the components of an approved Boating safety course and allows you to go boating. Because the Boating education card or certificate does not expire and does not need to be renewed, it is not called the Tennessee Boating License.

Even if not required by law to get the Tennessee boating education card, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

Do your part to make boating in Tennessee an enjoyable pastime! Become an educated, responsible boater by completing the Boat Tennessee course, and practice what you learn.


For visiting boaters, 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.”)

Need help? Here are the answers to the questions Tennessee Boating students most frequently ask.

Frequently Asked Questions