Yes – depending on your age. Boat operators who were born on or after September 1st 1993 are required to obtain a Texas Boater Education Card, commonly called a boating license, to legally operate:

  • A motorized boat of 15 hp or more
  • A wind-powered sailboat greater than 14 feet in length
  • A Personal Watercraft (PWC). 

Boaters who are caught operating without their Boater Education Card can be fined up to $500. 

How do I get the card? 

You can get your Texas Boater Education Card  online at The course takes about 3 hours to complete, and is animated, narrated, and illustrated, making it perfect for boaters of all ages. 

Once you’ve completed the State-approved online course, and passed the final exam, you’ll be issued a temporary certificate, which you can use to go boating legally right away. Certified boaters will then be able to download their permanent Boater Education Card from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Once you’ve completed the course and test, your permanent card is typically available for downloading within 7-10 business days. 

How old do I need to be to get the Texas Boater Education Card?

You must be at least 13 years of age to complete your Boater Education Course and obtain your Texas Boater Education Card. 

Are there age restrictions or supervision requirements for younger boat operators in Texas?

Supervision requirements apply to boat operators who are less than 13 years of age. Children who are less than 13 years may operate a boat as long as they are supervised. The supervisor must be 18 years of age or older, on board the boat while it’s being operated and be legally allowed to take over the operation of the boat if required.

Do I need a license to rent a boat in Texas? 

Yes – operators who are renting a boat in Texas are required to obtain a Boater Education Card. By rule of the commission a person may purchase a one-time 15 day boater education deferral at any place hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Most boating accidents occur because operators didn’t have the proper knowledge and training to operate safely. It’s unlikely that a rental company is going to teach you the ins and outs of various rescue procedures, or how to respond in a boating emergency. So get certified, and stay safe on the water.

Is anyone exempt from getting the Texas Boater Education Card?

Yes – there are a few groups who may be exempt from having to obtain a Boater Education Card, however getting the card is still highly recommended to ensure you’re safe and confident on the water. 

You may be exempt from obtaining your boater education card if you are:

  • Born prior to September 1st, 1993
  • Being directly supervised by an adult while operating
  • A non-resident and have completed an approved boater education course from another state
  • You have purchased a one-time 15 day boater education deferral (available at any place hunting and fishing licenses are sold)

Can I use my Texas Boater Education Card to operate in a boat in another state?

The Texas Boater Education card is accepted in 40 states, as well as in all Canadian provinces. This is known as “reciprocity”.