Practical boating experience
To apply for an initial general boat driving licence or personal watercraft (PWC) licence, you’ll need to provide evidence of your practical boating experience.
Who has to provide evidence of practical boating experience?
If you’re applying for a general boat driving licence, you’ll need to provide evidence of practical boating experience, unless you are:
- Applying for the re-issue of a NSW general or PWC driving licence that has been expired for less than five years
- Upgrading from a general boat driving to a PWC driving licence
- Transferring an interstate licence to a NSW equivalent
- The holder of commercial qualifications.
How to gain practical boating experience
You have two options for gaining practical boating experience:
- Complete practical boating training conducted by a Registered Training Provider (RTP)
- Download and complete a Boating Licence Practical Logbook (PDF).
Practical boating course
You can complete practical boating training with an RTP, including:
- ABC Licence Training
- All Hands on Deck Maritime Training
- Boating Licence Course
- Maritime and Safety Training (NSW Fishing Industry Training Committee (NSW FITC))
- Maritime Training School
- National Maritime College
- Seas School International.
Contact a provider for more information.
This list is provided for applicant convenience only. RTPs operate independently from Roads and Maritime.
If you pass the course, the provider will complete the relevant section/s of the Application for Boat Driving Licence form. You will need to bring this form with you when you apply for your licence.
Note that RTP's practical boating experience training includes 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 of its practical boating experience training, 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.
You’ll need to complete, in the company of an experienced skipper, a minimum of three trips in a powered vessel (excluding a PWC) operating under power. You must enter the trip details in the logbook and have them verified by the experienced skipper. You can use different skippers, and any of the skippers can sign-off that you have demonstrated the required competencies. RTP’s have experienced skippers.
The skipper must have at least a current and valid NSW or interstate boat driving licence, and must have held a boat driving licence for at least three consecutive years.
Only trips taken within 12 months of the date you apply for a licence will be recognised as practical boating experience.
Requirements for trips
There are no set requirements for the trips you take but you must be able to demonstrate the required competencies as outlined in the logbook.
You are not required to include a night trip, although we recommend that at least one trip takes place between sunset and sunrise to help you gain experience in navigating at night.
You can make your trips in any powered vessel (including a sailing vessel operating under power) except a PWC.
There is no requirement for the vessel to be registered, so you may gain experience in a small powered runabout.
Important: You must not exceed a speed of 10 knots when making these trips.
Getting a logbook
The Boating Licence Practical Logbook is free to download. You can also pick up a copy free of charge from any registry or service centre. In addition to the log of your trips, it also includes guidelines and checklists to help you gain experience on the water.
See the logbook frequently asked questions for more information.
Some applicants are exempt from the requirement to provide evidence of practical boating experience.
If you already hold a General boat driving licence and are applying to upgrade to a PWC driving licence you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience. You do however need to pass the PWC knowledge test.
If you wish to transfer an interstate boat or PWC driving licence to a NSW equivalent, you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience provided your interstate licence is current or has been expired less than five years.
If you wish to transfer a commercial qualification to a recreational boat or PWC driving licence you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience provided your commercial qualification is current, or has been expired less than five years.
Successful completion of certain Yachting Australia (YA) courses is recognised as satisfying the full requirements, including the practical component, for the issue of a general boat driving licence.
Other qualifications may be recognised. For more information call 13 77 88.