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 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 under 16 years of age may not rent a personal watercraft (PWC).
Those born after January 1, 1989, must have on board the Boating Safety Education Certificate issued by TWRA (shown above) whenever the vessel is in operation. This is the only certificate that will be recognized as meeting the requirements of the law for those born after January 1, 1989. The certificate will not expire but may be revoked in a court of law.