Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about boat and Personal Watercraft (PWC) licences.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

  • A personal watercraft (PWC) is a power-driven vessel that:
    • has a fully enclosed hull
    • does not retain water taken on if it capsizes
    • is designed to be operated by a person standing, lying, sitting astride or kneeling on the vessel but not seated within the vessel.

    PWC are often referred to by the brand name including Jet Ski, Sea-Doo and Waverunner.

Practical boating experience – logbooks or Recognised Training Provider

  • Before you can apply for a general boat or PWC driving licence, you have to provide evidence of your practical boating experience. You can do this by completing a boating licence practical logbook or completing practical boating training conducted by a Registered Training Provider (RTP). See practical boating experience for detailed information.
  • Yes.
  • No. You cannot use a Personal Watercraft (PWC) to gain practical boating experience.
  • No, there is no minimum time period for on-water trips.
  • There is no requirement for any trip to be taken at night although we recommend that at least one trip is taken between sunset and sunrise under supervision to help you gain experience navigating at night.
  • An experienced skipper needs to verify the trips you record in your logbook. An experienced skipper is someone over 18 years of age who holds at least, a current NSW or interstate boat driving licence and has at any stage held a boat driving licence for at least three consecutive years. For clarity, a boat driving licence includes a general boat driving licence or a PWC licence, and the three consecutive years can be made of either or a mix of both.
  • No. You can use different skippers, and any of the skippers can sign off that you have demonstrated the required competencies. Recognised Training Providers have experienced skippers.
  • Generally, no. The RTP's practical boating experience training courses will include both theory and on-water components. If both components are included in the RTP’s training courses, this satisfies the practical boating experience requirement of the licence application process and no log book is required.

    However, there may be circumstances where an RTP cannot conduct the on-water training component of its practical boating experience course eg applicants’ proximity to a waterway.

    In these cases, the RTP can complete the theory component, along with the Roads and Maritime knowledge test, but you will need to complete the on-water training component by the use of a logbook with an experienced skipper.

  • No, there is no practical test if you use the logbook option. However, during the minimum of three trips with an experienced skipper, you are required to demonstrate the competencies found in the Practical boating experience log pages of the logbook.
  • Yes. Roads and Maritime carries out random audits to verify that licence applicants have honestly completed their logbook.
  • It is an offence to provide false information, with a maximum penalty of $5,500.

    If it is found that you falsified your logbook details, your boat licence may be cancelled. You will be required to complete practical boating experience and a boat knowledge test again before a new licence is issued.

General boat and PWC driving licence knowledge tests

  • You can sit the general boat and PWC knowledge tests at:

    • A registry or service centre or Government Access Centre (GAC)
    • A registered training provider as part of a practical boating course.
  • Yes, you can take the online boating knowledge quiz as many times as you like. Questions in the quiz are taken from the pool of questions used in the real test. There is no charge for the quiz.

Boat licensing changes

  • Changes have been introduced to NSW boat driving licences as part of the new Marine Safety Regulation 2016. The changes include a new definition of who can hold a boat driving licence, removal of the previous young adult licence and changes to the requirements for getting a licence.

Young adult licence class

  • From 1 July 2016, the young adult licence class will no longer be issued. Applicants from 12 to under 16 years of age will be eligible for general boat and PWC driving licences, at concession rates. Please note: applicants must be under 16 years of age at time of payment to receive the concession rate.
  • The young adult licence class is being removed to allow applicants to obtain licences for longer durations, which will be more cost effective for the licence holder and remove red tape in the licensing process.
  • Yes. The holder of a general boat or a PWC driving licence who is from 12 to under 16 years of age must not do any of the following:

    • drive at a speed greater than 20 knots
    • drive in any race, display, regatta, exhibition or similar operation
    • drive any vessel, other than a PWC, at a speed of 10 knots or more:
      • without the holder of a general boat driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present in the vessel, or
      • between sunset and sunrise, or
      • while the vessel is towing anyone.
    • drive a PWC between sunset and sunrise (this rule applies to all PWC driving licence holders)
    • drive a PWC at a speed of 10 knots or more:
      • without the holder of a PWC driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present on the PWC
      • while the vessel is towing anyone.
    Exemptions may apply in accordance with an aquatic licence.
  • Yes. Existing young adult general boat and PWC licences will be recognised until they expire.

10-year boat driving licences

  • From 1 July 2016, holders of general boat and PWC driving licences are eligible to choose a 10-year licence.
  • The 10-year combined licence is available to eligible customers from 1 July 2016. Eligibility for the 10-year combined licence relies on whether you are eligible for a 10-year driver licence.
  • If you are aged between 21 and 45 years of age you may be eligible for a 10-year driver licence. Under 21 year olds are not eligible because of the incidence of facial changes at that age. Over 45 year old are not eligible because of the need for an eyesight test every five years.
  • Yes, but they will not be combined and will be two separate cards. You can always apply for a five-year combined licence instead and be issued the one card.

    You can only choose a combined licence at the time you are renewing your NSW driver licence. Driver licences may be renewed up to six months before the expiry date of the licence. Combined licences are only issued at service centres and registries that conduct maritime business.

  • See licence fees.

    Concessions are available for eligible pensioners and eligible customers under 16 years of age.

Boating Safety Course

  • From 1 July 2016, boat driving licence applicants are not required to complete a Boating Safety Course (BSC).

    The BSC contained useful information for operating a vessel under a general boat or PWC driving licence. The information has been fully reviewed and updated and will be available during July as a free online study guide.

Licence suspension

  • Boat driving licences may be suspended immediately by enforcement officers at the time of an offence if it involves:

    • The use of a vessel causing death or grievous bodily harm to another person
    • Reckless, dangerous or negligent navigation, or
    • Operating a vessel with a middle or high range prescribed concentration of alcohol.

    Licence suspension or cancellation may also be applied if you continually commit safety related boating offences.

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