All about Texas Boating Licenses and Boater Education Courses

In August of 2017, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), announced a study finding over 142 million people participated in recreational boating during 2016 – over a 500,000 from Texas. With millions enjoying leisure boating, laws and regulations have been designed to keep us safe from the elements, mishaps and the unexpected. To help you navigate the waters safely, we have simplified the Texas boating licenses and boater education courses in layman’s terms.

Many states throughout the country require boating licenses, although Texas does not issue a boating license per se. Instead, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department requires operators of certain marine vessels to become boater education certified prior to operating a vessel in Texas waters. In addition, Northshore Marina boat rentals require boater education certification.

Boaters Education

A boater’s education course is an educational program developed by the TPWD, USCG and NASBLA to teach safe boating practices, laws and regulations to boat operators. Even if you’re an adult and don’t plan on operating the watercraft, a boater’s education course will provide valuable information which could save your life – or the life of another – in the event of an emergency.

Successfully completing boaters education certification is easy at for a small fee of $20.00. They even provide a helpful study guide to simplify things. Participating in a boater’s education course will teach you vital boating basics like;

  • Lighting and sound laws

  • Docking and getting underway

  • Navigation laws and safe operation

  • Required safety equipment and how to use it

  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Boating emergencies including:

    • Weather hazards

    • Signaling for help

    • Rescue techniques and hypothermia

    • Managing carbon monoxide and fires

    • Running aground and avoiding collisions

    • Rescue techniques and risk management

    • Capsizing, swamping and man overboard recovery

Who Needs Boaters Education Certification?

Boaters education certification is mandatory if you were born on or after September 1, 1993 and plan on operating personal watercraft, a sailboat over 14’ long, or any vessel with over 15 hp. However, you do NOT need a drivers license to take the course.

Additionally, boater education certification is required for children ages 13-17 if they wish to operate a vessel by themselves without adult supervision. Any child under 13 years of age is strictly prohibited from operating a personal watercraft unless accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old.

Be advised, you must carry a valid picture ID along with the boater’s certification card while operating the watercraft. Failure to provide these items upon inspection by state enforcement authorities or the USCG will result in a fine.


Taking a boater’s education course has its perks. Adult boaters can benefit not just for the safety knowledge, but also to lower the rising cost of boat insurance. Not only will you learn valuable life saving tips and boating laws, but it can also save you a minimum of 5% on boating insurance yearly.  Not too shabby, ey mate?

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