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How to Get a Boat License in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Boating is a beloved pastime in Australia, but it’s crucial to understand the importance of obtaining a boat license before hitting the water. These licenses aren’t just pieces of paper – they signify that you’re equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate safely.

Each state in Australia has its own set of regulations, so it’s vital to comply with these to ensure everyone’s safety on the water.

Eligibility and Requirements

To obtain a boat license in Australia, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. Age requirements vary from state to state, but generally, individuals need to be over a certain age – usually around 12 to 16 years old.

Specific requirements also depend on the type of vessel you plan to operate and its engine power. For example, in some states, a license is needed for vessels with an engine power over a certain threshold.

It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the specific regulations of your state, as they can differ significantly. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in fines or, worse, accidents on the water.

Step-by-Step Process in Different States

Let’s break down the process of obtaining a boat license in some key Australian states:

  • New South Wales: Applicants must prove experience or complete a Boating Licence Practical Logbook. A knowledge test is required, along with proof of identity and payment of fees.
  • Victoria: Evidence of identity documents, application forms, eyesight tests, and fee payments are required. Trainers conduct licensing tests after completing a course.
  • Queensland: Completion of a BoatSafe course with a medical fitness disclosure statement is mandatory. The license is valid for life once obtained.
  • Western Australia: Boaters 14 years and older need a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket (RST). Assessment by an authorised assessor covering theory and practical skills is required.
  • South Australia: Proof of age and identity, medical and eyesight certificates, exam fees, and boat operator’s license fees are needed. Pass the theory exam at SA Customer Service Centres and apply for the license on the spot.
  • Tasmania: Individuals aged 17 and above can apply for a full boat license. Additional courses and tests are required for driving a PWC.

Obtaining the Recreational Skipper’s Ticket (RST) in Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Recreational Skipper’s Ticket (RST) is essential for operating a recreational vessel with a motor greater than 6hp. The minimum age to obtain this license is 14 years old.

To qualify for an RST, applicants must pass a test assessing their knowledge of boating rules and regulations. Additionally, they may need to attend a practical boating safety course.

Remember, the RST allows you to drive any registered recreational boat but does not include a photo ID.

Interstate Recognition and Additional Considerations

If you hold an interstate license, it is recognised in WA for three months; beyond that period, you must apply for an RST. It’s important to understand any additional considerations or exemptions in your state, such as age restrictions and licensing for specific vessel types.


Obtaining a boat license in Australia is a necessary step for safe and legal boating. By familiarising yourself with your state’s specific requirements and processes, you can ensure that you’re prepared to enjoy your time on the water responsibly.

Remember, safety always comes first! Consider getting your skippers ticket Perth with Sea Safe Boat School, ensuring you’re equipped with the skills and knowledge for a safe boating experience.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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