Is my boating license accepted in all states in Australia?

All states of Australia promote licensing in boating and maritime law. Foreign and Australian interstate licenses are generally accepted across the country. The licensing requirements, however, are not relatively uniform. When operating a boat, not in your license issuing state, please make sure that your license allows you to do so in this state. 

Below you will find a summary of said distinctions in licensing, but please always consult your local authority and be informed about any law changes.

New South Wales 

In NSW, you are licensed depending on the speed. Driving a motorized vessel for recreational purposes at 10 knots or more requires a boating license. The license can be issued to anyone aged 12 and above. According to Geoff, from wollongong tilers, the exam seems to be easy to pass.

The Australian Capital Territory 

In the ACT, the licensing requirements are similar to NSW. Everyone who is travelling at 10 knots or more needs a license.  

In both NSW and ACT, you need a separate license for operating a personal watercraft. 


In Queensland, the licensing depends on the power of the engine of the vessel. Everyone needs a license to operate a boat with engine power over 4,5 kW. For personal watercraft, you need both a personal watercraft license and a recreational marine license. This license is only available to individuals over 16 years old.

South Australia 

In South Australia, you need a license to operate any boat with an engine regardless of its power or your speed. You need to have a permit even if you are not using the machine. If you are visiting for up to 90 days, you can use a valid interstate license to operate a motorized boat. After 90 days, you need to take out a South Australia license. 


Tasmania requires a boating license for any boat that is powered by a 4+ horsepower engine. This requirement is in force for recreational boats but not hire and drive watercraft. You can only take out a license after completing a BoatSafe Practical Course by an Accredited Provider and paying a fee. The permit will then be valid for three years.


Victoria’s state requires a boating license for everyone who operates a recreational boat, regardless of the engine size, a canoe, kayak, and other paddle vessels. Grants are available for ages 12 onwards, but only a restricted license can be issued to an individual under 16. Your support will be valid for five years and must always be carried on you.

Western Australia 

In WA you need a license (a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket) to operate a motorized vessel with an engine power of horsepower and above. A Skipper’s Ticket does not expire but can only be issued to individuals over 14 years old.

Northern Territory 

The Northern Territory does not require a license to drive or register a boat. However, maritime law is also enforced, and violators will be prosecuted. 

Always check the requirements for the state you are visiting and make sure your license is valid, to avoid disappointment.

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