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Your Easy Guide to Getting a Boat License in Australia

How to Get a Boat License

Dreaming of cruising the Australian waters in your boat? Before you set sail, you’ll need to get a boat license.

Understanding the process can seem daunting, but fear not! In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how to get a boat license in Australia, making it simple for you to navigate the waters legally and safely.

General Requirements

Getting a boat license involves a few key steps that apply across all states:

  • Age Requirement
    Most states require you to be at least 16 years old to apply for a boat license. This ensures that you have the maturity and responsibility needed to operate a vessel safely.
  • Theory and Practical Assessment
    To obtain your license, you’ll typically need to pass both a theory exam and a practical assessment. The theory exam covers important topics like boating safety, navigation, weather, and emergency procedures.
    The practical assessment involves demonstrating your ability to operate a boat safely.
  • Recognition of Licenses
    Many states recognise boat licenses from other Australian states and territories, as well as some international licenses, making it easier for you to move or travel within the country.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the specific requirements in each state:

New South Wales

If you’re in New South Wales and wondering how to get a boat license, here’s what you need to know:

  1. You’ll need a license to operate a powered vessel over 10 knots.
  2. Applicants can apply from the age of 12, with some restrictions for 12-16 year olds.
  3. If you have prior boating experience, you may be exempt from the theory test.


In Victoria, getting a boat license involves:

  1. A license is required to operate a motorised recreational vessel.
  2. Completing a BoatSafe practical course with an accredited provider is necessary.


For those in Queensland, here’s what you need to do:

  1. You need a marine license to operate a boat with an engine over 4.5kW.
  2. Completing and passing a BoatSafe course, which includes a medical fitness disclosure, is mandatory.

South Australia

South Australia has the following requirements:

  1. Applicants must be at least 16 years old.
  2. You need to pass a theory exam based on the Recreational Boating Safety Handbook.
  3. Certain qualifications or a current interstate license may exempt you from the theory exam.


Tasmania’s requirements include:

  1. You need a license to operate a recreational boat with 4hp or more.
  2. Completing a BoatSafe practical course is necessary before applying for the license.

Western Australia (Recreational Skipper’s Ticket)

If you’re in Western Australia, here’s how to get a boat license:

  1. Meet the eyesight and medical requirements.
  2. Provide proof of identity, such as a valid driver’s license.
  3. Complete the RST assessment, which includes a theory exam and practical on-water test.
  4. Pay the assessment fees set by authorised training providers.

Setting Sail on Your Boating Adventure!

Obtaining a boat license is crucial if you want to enjoy boating safely and legally in Australia. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be on track to getting your license and starting your boating adventures.

Whether you’re cruising in New South Wales or exploring Western Australia’s waters, having that license gives you confidence. Don’t forget, you can get your skippers ticket in Perth by Sea Safe Boat School, ensuring you’re prepared for any maritime excursion.

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Mike Watson

Mike Watson, owner and operator of Sea Safe Boat School, has over 35 years of sea-going experience. Starting his maritime journey at 15 in Grimsby, England, he's sailed locations like Iceland and Greenland. Certified as a Master-5 Trainer, Mike is now dedicated to offering courses to those pursuing their recreational skippers ticket in Perth.