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Tennessee Boating Laws and Regulations

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


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.”)

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Take this Tennessee–approved online boating course to complete your boaters safety education. is a delegated provider for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

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