Texas Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

Operators must meet the age and boater education requirements shown below in order to operate any of the following vessels legally in Texas:

  • A powerboat powered by a motor of more than 15 hp or…
  • A PWC or…
  • A windblown vessel over 14 feet in length.

A person less than 13 years of age may operate only if he or she is supervised by a person who:

  • Is 18 years of age or older and…
  • Can lawfully operate the watercraft and…
  • Is on board when the vessel is underway.

A person at least 13 years of age and born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, may operate without supervision only if he or she has passed a boater education course that is accepted by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Enforcement

Texas 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.

Reciprocity

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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Frequently Asked Questions