Party Boat Program
The Texas Party Boat Operator Licensing Program is a program to provide a combination of on water experience as well as a course of study and examination process that complies with the Texas House Bill 12, Section 19A, passed in 2007 by the Texas Legislature. For more details on the law and how it pertains to you, please see the following links with full text of legislation.
- Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 55, Subchapter H
- Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 31, Subchapter G
Applicant should download Party Boat Operator License Application (PWD 1207 (Word 115.5 KB)) or obtain an application from a TPWD field office. The completed application can either be mailed to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Party Boat Operator Program, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, or taken in to a TPWD field office.
License and Inspection Expiration: The dates of expiration for either the license or the inspection is the last day they are valid. Both license and inspection can be renewed starting within 90 days of the expiration date and will add on the appropriate time period to the date of expiration in order to provide full time credit. The party boat operators license may be renewed up to 60 days after expiration. On the 61st day, they must apply as a "new" license and meet all the requirements.
Basic Applicant Requirements
Party Boat Operator License is required of operators of charter vessels carrying more than six passengers and with a length exceeding 30 feet, operating on inland waters. The only exemption from this requirement is if the operator holds a USCG Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) License, often referred to as a "6-pack license," or higher level of Captain's license issued by the USCG.
- Age 21
- Complete Boater Education Course (Part A - applies to all applicants) and separate Party Boat Operator License Exam (Part B).
- Applicant must contact TPWD Boater Education staff to arrange for a proctored exam for Part B (Advanced Materials): 512-389-4999 or contact email TPWD Boater Education.
- Provide copy of completed Party Boat Operator License Application
- Applicant must meet minimum requirements below to qualify for a Party Boat Operator License:
- 4 hours of observation and 4 hours of operation of a Party Boat
- No current license suspension/revocation
- Submit the required fee
- Specific boating violations may disqualify applicant from submitting 25 hours of experience operating a party boat, and require qualification based instead on 4 hours of observation and 4 hours of documented operation (see application form). Please see Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 55, Subchapter H for more details on disqualifying boating violations. See relevant boating violations, with violations disqualifying applicant from receiving party boat operator license regardless of documented hours highlighted in red.
- Applicant must be currently employed by owner of party boat or party boat's agent, and accompanied by currently licensed party boat operator or USCG Captain, while operating party boat during training for 'Experience' section of application. If qualifying based on at least 25 documented hours of experience operating a party boat, then applicant does not need to be a current employee of a party boat owner or owner's agent.
- The Department will not issue a party boat operator license to any person who has, within the five-year period preceding an application for a party boat operator license, been convicted of:
- A violation of Penal Code, Chapter 49 involving the operation of a motorboat; or
- A violation of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 31, involving reckless or negligent behavior, or behavior that placed passengers in peril.
- Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 55, Subchapter H for full details of party boat operator license requirements
- Applicant submits above items with completed application package and fee of $132.00 for original license to a TPWD field office or mails to:
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Party Boat Operator Program
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
The three major components to the exam procedure are:
- Completion of the formal course of instruction providing the knowledge required to successfully complete the Texas Boater Education Certification (Part A – obtain Texas Boater Education Certificate as prerequisite to take PBO license exam).
- Study Guide Outline (Word 190.5 KB) with associated reference materials to provide knowledge required to pass the required licensing examinations (Part B – Advanced Study).
- The PBO License Exam – Exams are proctored and may be given by designated TPWD Examiners ONLY. Applicant should contact TPWD Boater Education Office to arrange the proctored exam before submitting full application packet. Call 512-389-4999 or contact by email TPWD Boater Education for more information or to set up an exam.
Exams may be taken up to 4 times in one month, and passing exam must be sent by TPWD Examiner directly to: Texas Parks Wildlife Department, Boater Education Program, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, fax number 512-389-8042 or send scanned completed exam by email TPWD Boater Education. For more information, please see detailed list of exam procedures linked below.
To prepare for the PBO license exam (Part B), applicants should study the materials referenced in the Study Guide Outline (Word 190.5 KB). It is recommended that each Boat Owner obtain a reference copy of these materials for operator study purposes and quick future reference by all vessel operators and crew.Texas Party Boat Operator License Exam Procedure (PDF 85.5 KB)
- Call a phone number in the schedule below for the location and to confirm attendance.
- Day exam dates – arrive no later than one hour before end time stated, to allow time to complete exam
- Evening exam dates – arrive no later than 30 minutes after start time stated to complete exam
- Additional exam dates may be available in your area. Call 512-389-4999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to arrange additional exam dates.
|Updated 5:03 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 2014|
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|Updated 5:03 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 2014|
Review the PWD 1208 (PDF 243.8 KB) to ensure that your vessel can pass inspection on all categories. Submit the completed application and required $132.00 fee to apply for an inspection. Once the application is processed, you will be provided with a receipt and a Texas Game Warden, or authorized inspector will contact you to schedule the vessel inspection and complete the Inspection Certificate.
What Boats Need This Inspection?
A party boat operated on the inland waters of Texas is subject to an annual safety inspection; requires the operator to be licensed and complete the required boat safety courses; imposes capacity limits on the number of passengers; and requires a minimum amount of liability insurance to be carried on the vessel.
A "party boat" is defined as a vessel operated by the owner or an employee of the owner, and rented or leased for a group recreational event for more than six passengers.
This does not apply to:
- a boat that is less than 30 feet in length;
- a sailboat;
- a livery vessel; or
- any vessel used for training or instructional purposes while it is not being used as a party boat.
The annual water safety inspection is not required for a vessel carrying passengers for hire that has a Certificate of Inspection (COI) issued by the US Coast Guard. The COI is required for those vessels that operate on navigable (federal) waters by definition. If a vessel has such a document (required annually by the USCG), then a State COI is not required.
A complete listing of categories and items to be inspected can be found on the Annual Safety Inspection for Party Boats (PDF 336.4 KB). You are strongly recommended to review these items prior to requesting and paying for an inspection.
Please use the following links to reference materials noted in the Party Boat Operators Study Guide Outline. Review of these materials is essential to gain adequate knowledge in preparation to take the Party Boat Operator License Exam.
- Chapter 55, Subchapter H of the Texas Administrative Code (full text of Party Boat Rules)
- Chapter 31, Subchapter G of the Parks and Wildlife Code – see Chapter 31 for water safety requirements/party boat text begins with 31.171 and ends at 31.180
- Code of Federal Regulations 46, Chapter I – Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security
- Texas Party Boat Operator License Exam Procedure (PWD 1207A) (PDF 85.5 KB)
- Texas Party Boat Operator Licensing Program Study Questions (PWD 1207E (Word 497.5 KB)
- Texas Party Boat Operator Licensing Program Study Questions Answers (PWD 1207F) (Word 119 KB)
- Annual Safety Inspection for Party Boats (PWD 1208B) (PDF 336.4 KB)
- Application for Party Boat Operator License (PWD 1207) (Word 115.5 KB)
- Application for Annual Party Boat Inspection (PWD 1208) (PDF 243.8 KB)
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