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Getting A Boat Licence In NSW

Each state in Australia has a different set of laws pertaining to boat licences. In New South Wales there are two types of boat licences which include a General Boat Driving Licence & A Personal Watercraft (PWC) Driving Licence.

Do I Need A Boat Licence In New South Wales?

It is actually the speed at which a boat is driven determines whether a boat licence is required.
You are required to have a general boat licence if:

  • You are the operator of a power-driven boat that you are using recreationally on NSW waters, at a speed of 10 knots (approximately 18.5km/h) or more.

You are required to have a Personal Watercraft driving licence if:

  • You drive a Personal Watercraft at any speed.

What Does A General Boat Licence Permit?

A general boat driving licence allows any person over the age of 12 years to drive any vessel (except for a Personal Watercraft) at a speed of 10 knots or over.

What Does A Personal Watercraft (PWC) Driving Licence Permit?

A PWC driving licence is required if you wish to operate a Personal Watercraft (you must be 12 years or older to operate a PWC). A PWC driving licence includes a general boat licence so if you are already holding a general boat driving licence you can upgrade to a PWC driving licence at any time.

A PWC licence holder is able to operate a vessel with a fully enclosed hull that may be driven standing up, lying down, sitting astride or kneeling, and includes jet powered surfboards.

How Do I Get My NSW General Boat Licence?

It is a requirement that you provide evidence of practical boating experience (unless you’re upgrading an existing general boat driving licence) and also pass the relevant knowledge test.

Once these requirements have been met you can apply for a licence by heading to a registry service centre and providing:

  • Proof that you meet the requirements.
  • A completed licence application form.
  • Acceptable proof of identity.
  • Payment for the licence fee.
  • Young adult applicants must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who must provide acceptable proof of identity.
  • PWC driving licence applicants must also provide two passport acceptable photos.

Licence Period

General boat & Personal Watercraft licences can be valid for a period of either 1, 3, 5 or 10 years. It is normal for your licence to be issued in paper form, followed by a plastic card.

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