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Getting your boat licence in Australia


Australia is a country of water-lovers. We have one of the highest rates of boat ownership in the world, and there are thousands of kilometres of coastline, rivers and waterways to explore.

While there are options to get on the water without needing a boat licence, getting your recreational licence is a great way to expand your options and open up new ways of getting around. Whether you're going fishing, exploring one of the many rivers, lakes or creeks, or just cruising with a picnic, having your boat licence is the best way to enjoy your time on the water safely.

The rules and requirements for each state are different, so we've pulled together all you need to know about getting your boat licence in Australia.

What boat licence do I need?

All states in Australia require a recreational boating licence to operate a vessel over a certain power threshold. In some states this is based on the capacity of the motor (eg. for boats with a motor over 4.5kw), while in other states it is based on the speed of the vessel (eg. when travelling faster than 10 knots).

If you want to drive a personal watercraft (PWC, also known as a jetski), you'll need an additional licence or authorisation added to your boat licence. In most states you can get these at the same time, but you can't get a PWC licence on its own.

How do I get a boat licence?

The process for getting your licence varies from state to state. Most states require some form of written test to make sure you understand the 'rules of the road'. Some states also require you to undertake a practical training course, or demonstrate practical boating experience.

Check your state below to find a step by step guide and links to relevant authorities.


How do I choose a boat licence course?

Many states require or recommend that you undertake a training course with an authorised training provider.

There are lots of benefits to taking a course, even if it is not required where you live. These courses help prepare you for getting out on the water, including in emergency situations. They can also help you understand factors that influence your boating experience, like tides and weather.

When choosing a course, first check your state or territory website to see if they have a list of authorised providers. There may be lots to choose from, but don't be overwhelmed!

Next, check what is included in the courses on offer. Some bundle a theory course with practical training sessions, others are separated so you can set your own pace. Some theory courses are also delivered in person, and others offer online e-learning.

Remember to check if there is any expiry on the course completion, some will require you to complete the process of applying for you licence with the state or territory authority within 3-6 months.

DISCLAIMER: All information on this page is correct at the time of publication. Always check with the relevant state or territory authorities for up-to-date information.

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