With summer approaching, Texas lakes are starting to get crowded with all sorts of watercraft -- ski boats, pontoons, jet skis, wave runners and sailboats. Whether you own a boat or are just renting one, there are rules and regulations that govern the operation of any watercraft in Texas waters.

Texas requires that operators meet certain age and boater education requirements in order to operate any of the following watercraft:

  • Powerboat with motor of more than 15 hp
  • Personal watercraft
  • Sailboat in excess of 14 feet

Individuals under the age of 13 are not allowed to operate any vessel unless they are supervised by someone over the age of 18 who is qualified to legally operate the vessel and is on board when the vessel is underway.

Individuals over the age of 13 may operate a vessel without supervision only if he or she has completed and passed a boater education course that is recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

If you are over the age of 13 and have passed the state-approved boater education course, you must carry this information with you at all times that you are aboard a vessel:

  • A photo ID such as a driver’s license or student ID; and
  • A boater education certification card issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department OR proof of completion of the requirements to obtain a vessel operator’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Non-residents may operate a vessel in Texas if they can provide proof that they have passed another state’s boater education course that is NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators)-approved and accepted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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