Boat Licence Requirements in Australia

Boat Licence Australia

Each State and Territory within Australia has different laws regarding commercial and recreational boat licences or boat license – (we include both forms of spelling for our international guests). 

Boat Licence Requirements Broken Down By State

You can select your Australian State or Territory and find detailed information on the boat licence requirements that a motor boat operator needs to meet in order to get out on the water and boating safely around the Australian coast below.

Boat Licence Western Australia

To obtain a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket (RST) in WA for vessels powered by a motor over 4.5kW, every skipper must be assessed by an authorized assessor. The RST Workbook, available at Department offices or online, covers theory and practical competencies. Find more information on WA Boat Licence requirements here.

Boat Licence New South Wales

To obtain a boat license in NSW for vessels traveling at least 10 knots or more, you need to follow a few steps: study the boating safety manual, take a safety course, pass the exam, and get your license at a Maritime authority. The cost varies, and practical boating experience is now legally required. Find more information about obtaining a boat licence NSW here.

Boat Licence South Australia

In South Australia, regardless of boat or engine size, a license is required for you to use a boat. Applicants must be 16 or older, while 12 to 16-year-olds may apply for a special permit at a reduced rate. The process involves passing a theory exam and submitting an application. Find more information about obtaining a boat licence SA here.

Boat Licence Tasmania

In Tasmania, a licence is required for vessels with a motor of 4hp or more, excluding hire or drive vessels. Motorboat Licences are obtained through the BoatSafe Practical Course, offered by approved Accredited Providers listed on the MAST Website. The licence is valid for three years (pro rata) with a common expiry date. Find more information about obtaining a boat licence TAS here.

Boat Licence Victoria

To obtain a boat licence in Victoria, follow a two-step process similar to obtaining a driver’s licence. Study the free “Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook” from VicRoads or Marine Safety Victoria, available at VicRoads Customer Service Centres or for download. Find more information on how to obtain a boat licence VIC here.

Boat Licence Queensland

In Queensland, operating a boat with a motor over 4.5kW (6 HP) requires a licence, while if you want to use a personal watercraft (PWC), a specific licence is needed for personal watercraft. Current licences from other states are recognized. To get a boat licence, follow a three-step process similar to a driver’s licence. Find more information on how to obtain a boat licence QLD here.

Boat Licence FAQ

Some other frequently asked questions in regard to boat licences in Australia are: 

Can I use a boat licence in another State?

Most Australian States acknowledge the boating licences of other states for a period of time (usually around three months). So if you are simply visiting under the amount of time, there is no need to have a local licence; however, if you plan to relocate here full time, you will need to change to a local licence but be sure to check with the Maritime/Boating Authority in your state beforehand for interstate boat license and boat operator requirements. 

Can I use an Australia boat licence overseas in the waters of another country?

Using an Australian boat licence overseas largely depends on the countries to which you are heading – or intend to boat in.  It is best to check directly with Maritime Authorities of each intended country of passage – well in advance so you can ensure you have all the proper documentation if needed. 

Can I use an overseas boat license in Australia?

If you have obtained a boat license in another Country but would like to go boating in Australian waters – generally speaking you will need to obtain the appropriate license locally for the Australian State waters you will be boating in.  Some States recognise international boat licenses for a period of time and others do not.   Visit the Australian State links for more detailed information.

Do I really need to get a boat licence?

While not every country or state legally requires a boat licence, it’s highly encouraged to do so. Consider this: Would you get behind the wheel of a car – for the first time in your life – in another country – and head straight out on the highway? Hopefully not! 

The ‘rules’ of boating are the opposite to the rules of driving on the road in Australia.  At the very least, it’s important to understand these boating rules – for the safety of yourself, your yacht crew, other boaters – and your boats. 

If you’re just looking to drive a small boat and/or don’t think you will need a license, it is still wise get one. By attending a course and taking the subsequent license test, you will learn lots of interesting and valuable information on safe boating, driving and navigation, which may save your life or someone else’s. 

Note: Boat licence requirements for the ACT are the same as NSW.

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