In Queensland it’s the engine power of a boat that determines what kind of boating licence you require. If you’re operating a watercraft with an engine power of over 4.5 kilowatts, you’ll need a licence to do so.
On top of this, you’ll need to have a personal watercraft license and a recreational marine licence. You’ll also have to be at least 16 years old and successfully pass a BoatSafe course (or have a valid marine licence from interstate or overseas).
New South Wales
In NSW, the type of boating licence you require is based on the speed you drive at. If you’re driving a powered boat for recreational purposes at 10 knots or more, you’ll need to have a boating licence.
A licence of this type allows anyone aged 12 or older to drive any kind of vessel at a speed of 10 knots plus (except for a personal watercraft (PWC)). Why? Because 10 knots is when most accelerating boats begin to plane.
In WA, you’ll need a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket if you’re operating a vessel powered by six horsepower or more. A Skipper’s Ticket is the same as a boating licence in WA, although it does not need to be renewed and there are no ongoing fees to keep the ticket current.
According to the WA Department of Transport, individuals under 14 years of age are ineligible to apply for a Skipper’s Ticket. Commercial seafarers do need one too, however they may have prior commercial training recognised as an equivalent to the ticket.
If you’re operating a boat in Tasmania that hits 4 horsepower or more, you’ll need a boating licence. Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) says this applies to recreational vessels but not hire and drive watercrafts.
Before securing a boating licence, you’ll also need to successfully finish a BoatSafe Practical Course, which you can complete at an Accredited Provider in Tasmania, for a fee. Your boating licence is then valid for three years.
Every person who wants to be the master of a recreational powerboat in Victoria, needs to have a boat licence. According to Maritime Safety Victoria, this includes canoes, kayaks and other paddle crafts, as well as motored sailing boats (no matter what the engine size).
Licences in Victoria last for a period of five years, and it is an offence to operate a powered recreational craft without having the licence in your physical possession. Restricted licences are also available for individuals between the ages of 12 and 16.
The NT is the only place in Australia where a person does not need a licence to drive a boat (or register one). So, by default, you won’t need a licence to drive a tinny there. You can of course still be charged for disobeying boating laws in the NT, and individuals who break the law may be prosecuted.
As you already know, being safe on the water – by taking care of your passengers and those around you, is so important. Stay within designated speed limits and drive cautiously at all times.
Australian Capital Territory
The Capital’s boat licence requirements are similar to those of NSW. Once again, it’s not the size of the boat that determines the licence type, but the speed you’re planning to travel at. Just like NSW, you’ll need a licence if you’re traveling at 10 knots or more.
Only those over 12 years of age can apply for a recreational boating licence in the ACT. And, if you’re looking to drive a PWC, you’ll need a separate licence for this too. You’ll also need to apply for a permit to boat on many of the lakes in the ACT, although non-powered crafts tend to be exempt.
In South Australia, anyone operating a recreational boat with an engine, regardless of its size, needs to have a licence. It doesn’t matter whether the engine is being used or not, if it has one, you need a permit.
If you’re visiting SA and have a valid interstate boating licence, you have permission to operate a motorised boat in the state for up to 90 days. After this time you are required to apply for an SA boating licence.