Boating Laws
Boating Law and Boaters Education 

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Boat Laws

Texas Boating Laws and Safety Guides



Texas Boating Laws are administered by the Texas Department Parks and Wildlife.  Additional rules and regulations may apply in various counties. Know the law. Texas has an excellent resource guide.

Basic Texas Boating Laws

In Texas a person cannot operate a windblown vessel over 14 feet in length, a motorboat with more than 10 horsepower, or personal watercraft with more than 10 horsepower unless he/she:

  • was born after September 1, 1984 and has passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.

  • is 18 years of age or older or born before September 1, 1984, or,

  • is under 16 years of age and is accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older, or

  • is at least 13 years of age and have passed a boater education course or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.

Boating License Requirements

Anyone born on or after September 1, 1984 and under the age of 18 must complete a TPWD-approved course and be certified with TPWD to operate:

  • any vessel over 10 horsepower,

  • wind-blown vessel over 14 feet and

  • all personal watercraft.

Some violations of the Water Safety Act also require course completion.

Jet Ski Rules - Personal Watercraft

NOTE: Children under 13 are specifically prohibited from operating a PWC unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age.
Personal watercraft (PWC) is defined as a type of motorboat which is specifically designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing, or kneeling ON the vessel rather than INSIDE the vessel. The term PWC includes jet skis, wet bikes, etc. Any person being towed by a PWC is considered an occupant of the PWC, and is required to wear a life jacket.

Boat Registration - more details on: Texas Boat Registration

- Out of State - If you have a boat registered or titled in your name in another state you may operate the vessel up to 90 consecutive days with current out-of-state registration.

Effective January 1, 1994, all motorboats and all outboard motors must be titled. Also sailboats 14 feet and over in length must be titled.

  • All motorized boats, regardless of length;

  • All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s); and

  • All internal combustion (gasoline/diesel powered) outboard motors must be titled.

Exempted vessels — USCG Documented vessels, all (non-motorized) canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or rubber rafts (regardless of length) when paddled, poled, or oared and sailboats under 14 feet in length when windblown.

Vessels that are currently registered and not titled must be titled when transferred. Sailboats 14 feet and over will be registered and titled as owners become aware of these requirements. Currently owned untitled outboard motors must be titled when transferred.

It is illegal for the owner or person in control of a motorboat to allow someone who does not meet the age or boating education requirements to operate the vessel.   

Texas Boat Forms
 - Form Guide Boaters Education and Boat Safety