It's the Law

Who May Operate a Vessel


Those born after January 1, 1989

  • Tennessee residents must successfully complete the TWRA Boating Safety Exam and carry on board the Boating Safety Education Certificate issued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) when operating a vessel on Tennessee waters. Only the TWRA–issued certificate will be accepted as meeting the requirements of Tennessee law. This does not apply to non-residents or persons who rent a vessel.
  • Non-residents within this age category must show proof of successful completion of a NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course.
  • Operators of vessels powered by engines of 8.5 horsepower or less and operators of sailboats under sail alone are not required to possess the Boating Safety Education Certificate.

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

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