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It's the Law

Who May Operate a Vessel


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 horsepower or…
  • A personal watercraft (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 September 1, 1993, may operate without supervision only if he or she has passed a boater education course that is accepted by TPWD.

All persons required to have passed a state-approved boater education course must carry with them on the vessel:

  • Photographic identification, such as a driver’s license or student I.D. and…
  • A boater education certification card issued by the TPWD upon successful completion of a boater education course or proof of completion of the requirements to obtain a vessel operator’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Non-residents may fulfill the Texas boater education requirement by supplying proof that they have passed another state’s boater education course that is accepted by TPWD and is NASBLA–approved.