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Texas Kayaking Laws

Kayak Rules And Regulations In Texas

Published August 16, 2022

Texas is a very popular destination for kayakers and other boaters. It has many lakes, rivers, and other waterways that offer excellent opportunities for recreational activities like kayaking. If you are also planning to kayak in Texas? Before going kayaking, you need to know about Kayaking Laws in Texas. In this article, we will discuss all the Texas Kayaking Laws. You will also find useful information about special rules, regulations, and restrictions applicable to this state’s kayakers.

This will help you to avoid any legal trouble while kayaking.

Texas Kayaking Laws: Summary

Texas Kayak Registration Laws

Texas kayaking laws rules and regulations

There is no need to register a non-motor kayak in Texas. If you are using it on the water, you do not need a registration card. The only exception is when you use your kayak on the water, you must be able to control it and have a good experience using it.

However, if you have a motorized kayak and take it out onto a river or lake, you will have to register it with the state of Texas. This is because there are laws that require all boats to be registered when they are being used on water. After registration, you will get the title of the kayak that will be helpful for kayaking anywhere in the state of Texas.

So, if you are planning to buy a kayak in Texas, you will need to get the title and registration number. If you buy a used kayak, ensure the previous owner has registered it. Otherwise, you will have to get it registered by yourself.

In order to register a kayak or canoe powered by a motor, you must have a Texas boat registration and personal watercraft (PWC) safety certification. You can obtain them from any Texas Parks & Wildlife office or certified marine dealer. Once these documents are obtained, you need to submit them along with other documents. You will get your motorized kayak registered within a few days.

Kayak Operating Education Laws in Texas

You are not required to have any education to operate a paddle-propelled kayak. However, you need to have a Texas Boating Safety Education Card to operate a motorized kayak. You can obtain this card by taking an approved boating education course in Texas or by completing the online course offered by TPWD. If you are younger than 29 years, you must complete this training before operating a motorized PWC on public waters.

There is an exception for a person at least 13 years old who can operate a motorized boat of more than 15 horsepower. But he has completed a boating course, or he is supervised by a person who is at least 18 and has legal permission to operate the motorboat.

So, remember that you will need to enroll in some training if you want to buy a motorized kayak. This will help you to understand the basic things about boating, and also, it will help you to stay safe on the water.

Besides, it will also help you learn more about the rules and regulations you must follow. It is important to remember that even though you may be a good swimmer, kayaking has many dangers.

Kayaking with Drugs and Alcohol Laws

You should not operate any type of watercraft in Texas if you have taken drugs or alcohol. You can be charged with DUI even if the BAC is below 0.08%. It is important to remember that drinking alcoholic beverages does not make you a good kayaker. You can also be arrested if you are under the influence of drugs. Operating a motorized vessel or personal watercraft while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal. If you are found guilty, you could face jail time, fines, and loss of boating privileges.

So, it is also important to remember that even if you do not feel drunk, you may have been drinking enough alcohol to be considered intoxicated. So, avoiding boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is best. Even if you are not driving your boat, having an intoxicated friend will give rise to legal issues.

Texas Laws About Having Emergency Equipment on the Kayak

In the event of an emergency, it is important to have the necessary equipment on board. The law states that every motorboat must carry some safety equipment to help the kayaker in an emergency. Let’s know which safety equipment you need on your kayak while kayaking in Texas.


  • The first and most important thing you must do is ensure that your kayak has a lifejacket for everyone on the board.
  • You should also ensure that it is PFD approved by USCG. This means that it meets all their requirements and standards for safety purposes.
  • You should have at least one throwable PFD available on your boat so as to be able to throw it if needed.

According to the Texas kayaking laws, always wear a life jacket while being on the water because it will not only protect you from fines, but it will also protect you from drowning. Besides, there are so many types of PFDs available in the market, so get a safe PFD and enjoy your kayaking trip on the Texas waters.


  • Your kayak must have at least one light on your non-motorized kayak. It’s important that you make sure your boat is easy to see from the shore so that if you get into trouble and need help, someone will be able to spot you.
  • Motor vessels must have white and green lights around them. These lights should be visible from at least two miles away in order to let other boats know that they’re approaching an occupied area.

Sounding Devices

  • It is a requirement that the horn or other loud sounds for motor canoes be attached on top of the PFD, and it should be easily reachable by a person wearing the PFD.
  • The whistle should be used if you are in an emergency situation.  You can use it to signal for help or attract attention from other people.
  • The whistle should be loud enough so that it can be heard from a mile away. You should always keep the whistle close to you and ready to use, even if you don’t plan on using it while boating.


The state of Texas also makes it mandatory for you to have some visual distress signal devices on your kayak or canoe if you are kayaking on coastal water. The devices may be Smoke Device, Flare Gun, or anything similar.

These are also reflective devices and are used to signal your location when you’re in an emergency. The visual distress signals should be visible from miles away so that people can see you even at night.

You can find these at sporting goods stores, boating supply stores, or even some grocery stores. If you plan to travel offshore in your kayak or canoe, you should consider a marine radio. You can use it to contact other boaters and people who might be able to help if something goes wrong while you’re out on the water. However, it is not required by the law.

Texas Law Enforcement Authority

Police officers, game wardens, and Texas parks & wildlife department officers are authorized to enforce these safety laws. They can issue you a citation for violating one of these laws. If you are issued a citation, you must appear in court. The judge may impose penalties, such as fines and community service hours.

According to the Texas kayaking laws, if you found guilty, you could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. The penalty for this is up to $500 in fines and/or up to 60 days in jail.


So, these are some Texas kayaking laws you need to follow to enjoy kayaking. It’s important to know and follow these laws to have a safe and enjoyable time on the water. These laws are meant to ensure the safety of both kayakers and other people who may be on the water. As a responsible kayaker, it’s important that you know these laws and follows them.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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