Obtaining a boat licence in Australia is going to be different depending on whether you are located. Here, we are going to go through the rules and regulations for each Australian state and territory. If you are recreational fisherman that is planning on using a boat, then it is important to note that owning a boat license is not enough to allow you to go fishing. You will also need a recreational fishing licence in most states. That is going to be out of the scope of this guide, however.
Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales
The regulations for these territories are the same.
Whether you need a licence or not will be dependent on the speed that your boat travels at. If it can travel at more than 10 knots, which is about 18km/h, then you are going to require a licence.
If you are operating a personal watercraft, known as a PWC, then you will always require a PQC driving licence. It does not matter the speed that it travels at.
You are able to obtain both types of licence from the age of 12 onwards. However, if you are between the age of 12 and 16, you will not be able to do the following:
- Drive faster than 20 knots.
- Enter a competition.
- If you drive more than 10 knots, then another person with a boat driving licence also needs to be on the vessel.
It is easy to obtain a licence in these territories. You will need to provide evidence that you have boating experience. If this is going to be your first time heading out on a boat, then you will probably not be approved for a licence. In addition to this, you are going to need to pass a knowledge test.
Your licence can be issues for either one, three, five, or 10 years. You will be issued with both a paper licence and a plastic licence card.
You do not require a boat licence if you are in the Northern Territory. However, it is always wise to undergo a few lessons, just so you know that you are going to be safe operating the boat. Failing that, try to get out on the waters with somebody that knows what they are doing. You do not need to have official lessons.
In order to obtain a boat licence in Queensland, you will need to do the following:
- Be at least sixteen years old.
- You must complete the Boatsafe course. If you already have a boat licence from overseas, there is a chance that you will be able to transfer it to a licence in Queensland.
It is important to note that before you complete a Boatsafe course, you will need to complete a medical fitness disclosure form. You will be able to find out information about this on the Queensland government website. You will be able to apply for your licence at your local QGAP office.
You will need a boat licence to operate any motorised boat in Southern Australia. It does not matter what the size of the boat is, or even how fast it travels. You are going to need to have a licence. The only exception to this rule is a canoe or kayak fitted with a motor that puts out less than 150 newtons of power. You also do not require a licence if you are being supervised by somebody with a boat operator’s licence and you are not travelling at more than 10 knots.
You are able to operate in South Australia with a licence from outside of the territory for up to 90 days.
In order to obtain a licence in Australia, you will need to complete a theory exam. Once you have completed this exam, you can then apply for the licence. There are some exceptions to the rule of needing to undergo the theory exam e.g. if you have completed a seamanship course at certain institutions, but for the most part you can assume you need to complete a theory course.
You will need a licence in Tasmania if you are operating a vessel which operates at 4HP or more. You may not need to do this if you are hiring a vessel.
Tasmania is a bit more difficult to obtain a licence in. Most other areas of Australia will allow you to file for a licence without needing to finish any examination. The only way in which you are able to obtain a licence in Tasmania is if you have completed a Boatsafe Practical Course. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be able to obtain a provisional licence. They will be able to operate a boat under the supervision of an adult with a licence.
You will need a licence if you are operating any sort of powered boat on Victorian waters. It does not matter the size of the motor.
In order to obtain a licence in Victoria, you will need to be working with an accredited training provider. Once you have completed your examination, you will be awarded with a licence to operate a vessel.
The licence here is known as the ‘Recreational Skippers Ticket’. You will need to obtain a licence if you are operating a vessel which has an engine more than 6HP. Only the person in-charge of the boat needs to have the licence. Other people may be able to operate the boat while the licence holder is onboard.
In order to obtain your RST, you will need to work with an accredited training provider.
Transfer of Licence
It is worth noting that in many cases, you should be able to transfer your boat licence from one territory to another. You will normally need to hold the licence for about three months before you are able to do this. However, you are going to need to check the rules and regulations for each individual territory to find out for sure.