Guidelines for Boat Navigation Lights

Boat Navigation Lights

For all water vessels that are operating between sunset and sunrise or are in areas with restricted visibility, they are required by the Australian government to have navigation lights. The purpose of navigation lights is to indicate the size of the boat, the direction it is moving to, the angle where you see it, and whether or not it is anchored. To all the owners of water vessels in Australia, we listed the guidelines that you should follow about navigation lights.

Power Boats Underway

Less than 7 meters – For vessels below 7 meters long and have a maximum speed of 7 knots, which include personal watercraft (PWC), should have white lights all around. If possible, side lights should also be included.

7 to 12 Meters – Vessels below 12 meters but more than 7 meters in length should include either a mast light and stern light with separate or combined sidelights; or an all-around white light with separate or combined sidelights. The masthead and all-around white lights must be placed one meter above the sidelights.

Less than 20 Meters – Those vessels with more than 12 meters to 20 meters long should have a masthead, a stern light, and separate or combined sidelights. The masthead should be 2.5 meters above the gunwale or more, and the combined sidelines should be one meter below the masthead or more.

Sailing Boats Underway

Less than 7 meters- For vessels below 7 meters long (motor or rowed) must have at least an electric torch or lighted lantern that emits white light. However, it is recommended that they have the same navigation lights as sailing vessels of 7 to 20 meters.

7 to 20 meters – Vessels below 20 meters but more than 7 meters should have separate sidelights and stern lights; or a combined lantern at the top of the mast, plus sidelights and stern lights.

Over 20 meters – Those vessels with more than 20 meters in length should have sidelights and a stern light, but should not have a combined lantern. Optional red and green lights all-round may be included.

Note: All sailing vessels fitted with sidelights and a stern light, regardless of the length, have an option to include two all-round lights near the top of the mast. The upper light should be red and lower one should be green.

boat nsw license

Power and Sailing Boats at Anchor

Water vessels, below 50 meters in length must have an all-around white light that is visible from any direction. Additional lights like cabin lights or deck lights are recommended for vessels that are anchored in busy areas. Anchored vessels must exhibit anchor lights from sunset till sunrise.

Note: As a general rule, small power boats should maintain a good distance from vessels with additional lights.

Rowed or Paddled Vessels

These watercraft should at least have a lantern or torch that can be lighted to prevent collision with bigger boats. A vessel with length of more than four meters, like sport rowing boats, should have two all-around lights situated on both ends of it. The lights can either be continuous or combination of flashing white lights or continuous.

Commercial and Fishing Ships

Commercial and fishing ships that are trawling at anchor should show Green over white lights. For other purposes aside from trawling, these stationary ships must have Red over white lights. Ships that have restricted ability of maneuvering must exhibit red over white over red lights. However, when they are moving, they must show normal navigation lights.

For commercial ships engaged in underwater activities, they must show red over white over red to show their restricted ability to maneuver. Plus, Green over Green on their sides where it is safe to pass. Lastly, they should show red over red lights on the side where it is not safe to pass. Ships aground and ships not under command must show red over red lights.

Always Check your Navigation Lights

Before using your watercraft and vessels during night times, make sure to double check that all navigation lights are working. To ensure the safety of everyone, also ensure that your boat complies with the laws governing navigation lights in Australia and the state your boat is operating at. For purchasing of new boats with proper navigation lights, call us at and we will help you finance any type of water vessel according to your needs.