This page will provide you with the information you need to know regarding marine licences and vessel registration before you head out for a safe day on the water.

Licensing

Anyone operating a powered recreational vessel on Victorian waters requires a marine licence. Licences are administered by Vic Roads – this includes sailing boats and paddle craft with a motor.

Jet ski riders require a marine licence with personal watercraft (PWC) endorsement.

Interstate licence holders

A person who holds an interstate marine licence, restricted marine licence, or PWC endorsed marine licence may operate the equivalent vessel in Victoria for a period of three months. If the visitor’s stay extends beyond three months or the visitor does not have an equivalent interstate marine licence for the vessel they wish to operate, a Victorian marine licence must be obtained.

Note: Interstate visitors are required to observe Victorian regulations including speed restrictions and the wearing of lifejackets at certain times. An exemption applies for visiting vessels for the carriage of safety equipment.

If you are an interstate marine licence holder but have resided in Victoria for more than three months, you must convert your interstate marine licence to a Victorian marine licence. If you have evidence of your equivalent interstate marine licence, you will be exempt from sitting the test run by VicRoads or an accredited training provider.

To convert your marine licence, please bring your existing interstate marine licence and appropriate evidence of identity, to a VicRoads customer service centre (fees apply).

Hire and drive vessel

A hire and drive vessel means a vessel (other than a recreational vessel) that is intended to be let for hire and includes vessels hired on a trailer and operated away from the place of hire, including those only capable of a speed less than 10 knots.

The Marine Safety Act requires all masters to hold a marine licence (and any relevant endorsement) to operate a hire and drive vessel capable of a speed greater than 10 knots (18km/h).

A PWC endorsement is required to operate a hired PWC. The hire boat owner will brief clients on the operating requirements of the vessel being hired. All operators, masters and passengers must comply with lifejacket requirements.

Our hiring a charter vessel page provides advice about what to ask before booking a charter to ensure the vessel is safe, operating legally and the crew is qualified.

Commercial exemptions

A person who holds a valid Certificate of Competency, that is not subject to any conditions relating to the person’s health or fitness, is exempt from the requirement to hold a marine licence. However, if the person wishes to operate a personal watercraft they will need to obtain a marine licence and a PWC endorsement.

The definition of a valid Certificate of Competency is as follows:

  • Coxswain Grade 2 NC
  • Coxswain Grade 1 NC
  • Master (Inland waters); Master <24m NC
  • Master <35m NC
  • Mate <80m NC
  • Master <80m NC
  • A notice in writing given to a person by the Safety Director declaring that the person’s qualification, certificate or experience is equivalent to a qualification or certificate referred to above.

Other approved qualifications

Below is a list of certificates of competency issued by Australian maritime regulatory authorities. The holders of these certificates are not required to sit the VicRoads marine licence test.

  • Coxswain
  • Master Class 5
  • Master Class 4
  • Mate Class 4
  • Master Class 3
  • 2nd Mate Class 2
  • 2nd Mate Class 1
  • Chief Mate Class 2
  • Chief Mate Class 1
  • Boatman / Motor Boatman
  • Mate – Steamship
  • Full Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate
  • Small Warfare Watchkeeping Certificate
  • Skipper Grades 1 to 3 (RAN Certificate).

Licences are only issued for a period for 12 months or five years.

Marine licence

You can either take a course or study by yourself to get your licence.

PWC endorsed licence

Riders of personal watercraft (PWCs), such as jet skis, must obtain an endorsement on their licence in order to operate this type of vessel. You must be 16 or above to apply for this endorsement.

A PWC endorsement may not be issued as a standalone licence. If an endorsement is required, a marine licence must first be obtained.

Restricted

A restricted licence is required by any person over the age of 12, but under the age of 16, who is operating a powered recreational vessel.

Holders of a restricted marine licence may act as master of a recreational vessel only if:

  1. operating during daylight hours between sunrise and sunset;
  2. operating at speeds of less than 10 knots; and
  3. not operating a vessel that is towing a person, another vessel or object.

You cannot get a PWC endorsement on a restricted licence. Once a restricted master turns 16 years old, the restricted marine licence automatically becomes a marine licence.

To help you prepare, take these practice tests here – marine licence and PWC endorsement practise tests.

Applicants can find existing accredited training providers here.

Fees

We do not regulate the fees charged by accredited training providers.

Applicants are encouraged to research the fees charged by the various providers, and to be clear about what is covered by those fees.

Applicants are also encouraged to check the provider’s cancellation and refund policy before booking a course.

Course feedback

All currently accredited training courses meet the requirements of the Marine Licence Training Standards. The standards also summarise other requirements that a training provider will need to meet to attain training course approval.

To provide feedback on an accredited training course please contact us.

 

If you need an interpreter for the marine license or PWC endorsement course, talk to your accredited training provider.

If you’re taking the tests at VicRoads and need an interpreter in any language or help with hearing impairment, call 13 11 71.

If you have poor vision, you need to get an eyesight certificate from a qualified eye doctor, medical practitioner, occupational therapist, or eye specialist to apply for a licence.

If you have a disability or medical condition that affects your ability to operate a vessel, contact VicRoads for additional information or testing requirements. Also, inform VicRoads if you develop a new medical condition that might affect your ability to operate a vessel.

For more details about getting a marine license, call VicRoads on 13 11 71.

If you have questions about competency certificate exemptions, contact ST Vic at 1800 223 022.


Registration

All powered vessels are required to be registered, and the operator of a registered vessel is required to hold a Marine Licence.

Any boat with an engine capable of being used for propulsion in Victorian waters must be in a seaworthy condition and registered with VicRoads every 12 months. The trailer used to tow your vessel will need to be registered separately.

Rescue Boats are exempt from the registration fee, but must have registration renewed annually.

Information on vessel registration fees is available from VicRoads.

The owner of a registered recreational vessel must ensure the registration label for that vessel, issued by VicRoads on behalf of Safe Transport Victoria is fixed and remains fixed in an obvious position on the outside or upper part of the vessel.

The ID Mark must be displayed on both sides fwd of midships on the hull and must be 150mm min height, with lettering of a contrasting colour.

PWC’s can be 100mm in height, but also must be in contrasting colours to the hull.

 

 

Boat registration in Victoria does not include any insurance cover. We recommend that boat owners and operators consider taking out cover with an insurance provider.

Kayaks and canoes powered by an electric motor of no more than 1 horsepower or 750 watts and which cannot operate at more than 5 knots are exempt.

The following conditions still apply to this exemption:

Speed Restriction: These vessels must not exceed a speed of 5 knots. This translates to approximately 9.26 kilometers per hour, akin to a brisk walking pace.

Mandatory Safety Equipment: The following safety equipment is mandatory when operating these vessels on specified waters:

For Inland Waters:

  • A bailer (unless the vessel has an electric or manual bilge pumping system)
  • A bilge pump for vessels with non-airtight bilge or underfloor compartments
  • An alternative means of propulsion (paddle or fitted pedal mechanism)
  • A waterproof buoyant torch
  • Either a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch or a personal locator beacon (PLB)

For Enclosed Waters and Coastal Waters within 2 Nautical Miles of Shore:

  • A bailer (unless the vessel has an electric or manual bilge pumping system)
  • A bilge pump for vessels with non-airtight bilge or underfloor compartments
  • An alternative means of propulsion (paddle or fitted pedal mechanism)
  • A waterproof buoyant torch
  • Either a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), a marine radio, two hand-held orange smoke signals, or two hand-held red distress flares

For Coastal Waters More than 2 Nautical Miles from Shore:

  • A bailer (unless the vessel has an electric or manual bilge pumping system)
  • A bilge pump for vessels with non-airtight bilge or underfloor compartments
  • An alternative means of propulsion (paddle or fitted pedal mechanism)
  • Two red flares, two orange smoke signals, and one rocket parachute flare
  • A compass
  • A marine radio
  • A registered emergency positioning indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)
  • A waterproof buoyant torch

Lifejacket Regulations: All occupants must wear the appropriate lifejackets at all times when the vessel is in motion:

  • Inland Waters: Type 1, 2, or 3 lifejackets (Level 100+, Level 50, or Level 50s)
  • Enclosed and Coastal Waters: Type 1 lifejacket (Level 100+)

Waterway Regulations: Operators must comply with state and local waterway regulations, including speed and distance rules and restricted zones, as detailed in the Vessel Operating and Zoning Rules (VOZR). Waterway safety signage must also be observed.

Registration is not proof of ownership. There is no register of encumbered vehicles for vessels in Victoria.

The Australian Builders Plate (ABP) was developed through a joint initiative between government and industry.

It aims to enhance recreational boat user safety by clearly stating key vessel operational capabilities in a plate displayed in an obvious location on the vessel.

The plate must be fitted to new vessels, unless exempted, when they are first sold or offered for sale.

It values that have been determined by a competent person, calculated to appropriate standards.

The ABP will include a statement of level of basic floatation for boats up to 6m in length. Boats with level floatation will provide a much safer platform should they become swamped or capsized.

HIN’s are not a mandatory item when registering your vessel, however you are required to supply one if it has been affixed. 

There are limited boat code agents affixing HIN’s in Victoria. Contact ST Vic for more information if you believe you would like to have HIN affixed to your vessel.