How to Get a Boat Licence in NSW

favourite boat fishing spot

Much like every state in Australia, New South Wales has its own established laws regarding boat licences. Residents have a total of two options: they can get either a Personal Watercraft (PWC) Driving Licence or a General Boat Driving Licence.

When Should I Get a Boat Licence in New South Wales?

What determines if you should acquire a boat licence is the speed at which you drive your boat. A General Boat Licence is given to drivers with a power-driven boat on NSW waterways for recreation at the speed of 10 knots (18.5 km/h) and above. On the other hand, driving a Personal Watercraft requires you to get a PWC Driving Licence.

What does each type of Driving Licence permit?

PWC Driving Licence

  • It permits a person 12 years old and above to operate a Personal Watercraft. It allows that person to drive any enclosed water vessel that can be operated while sitting, standing, lying down or kneeling. The license also permits the holder to drive a jet-powered surfboard. Having a PWC driving license also gives you a General Boat Driving License.

General Boat Driving Licence

  • This licence permits anyone over 12 years old to operate a vessel at 10 knots or more, excluding a Personal Watercraft. If the holder wishes to drive a PWC, it can be upgraded to a PWC Driving Licence.

How Can I Acquire a NSW General Boat Licence?

You are required to show practical boating experience to get a General Boat Driving Licence. However, you no longer need to do so if you are applying for any of the following:

  • Re-issue of an expired (less than 5 years) General or PWC driving licence
  • Upgrade from General to PWC driving licence
  • Transfer of an interstate license to its corresponding ┬ádriving licence in NSW
  • Transfer of commercial qualification to General or PWC driving licence

For both the General and PSW driving licences, you also have to pass the Boat Licence Knowledge Test. Proceed to a Registry Service Centre after you have completed the said requirements. You will be asked to provide the following:

  • Duly accomplished application form
  • Proof of identity
  • Licence Fee Payment
  • Proof of meeting the practical boating experience and knowledge test
  • Two passport pictures for PWC driving licence applicants
  • A parent or legal guardian is required to accompany a young adult applicant. Acceptable proof of identity for the parent or guardian is also required.

NSW Boat Driving Licence Period

Validity period from 1,3,5 or 10 years are issued for both the General Boat and Personal Watercraft driving licences. Licences are normally issued in a paper form and in a plastic card afterwards.