​Boating safety​

This section of the Water Safety website ​has information to help you plan a safe boating trip, including boat​ing safety tips, information about lifejacket requirements and types, licenses, and more. ​

Select a link below or from the menu on the left for more information about that topic.

​Top tip​​s

If you're going boating:

  • Always wear a lifejacket – don't risk your life.
  • Check the weather and plan ahead. Weather can change very easily so always check the most up-to-date weather before you head out. Visit bom.gov.au or download the Bureau of Meteorology phone app.
  • Check all your safety gear. Make sure all lifejackets are in good condition and there are enough on board for everyone. Make sure you check your vessel and it is appropriate for the conditions and you have the necessary experience to handle the forecast conditions.
  • Stay under the 0.05 blood alcohol limit.
  • Always keep to a safe speed for the prevailing conditions.
  • Always keep a proper lookout at all times, especially for people in the water, other vessels, structures and the shoreline.
  • Tell someone when and where you are heading. Log on with your local Marine Rescue NSW unit – on marine radio VHF CH16 or via the free MarineRescue App

Go to the boating safety tips page​​​​.


Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on recreational vessels.

It is a legal requirement that most recreational vessels in NSW carry an approved, appropriately sized lifejacket for each person on board.

Lifejacket must be worn in situations of heightened risk such as:

  • Crossing a coastal bar

  • When riding a personal watercraft

  • Underway in a boat less than 4.8m in length when:

    • alone

    • offshore

    • at night

    • on alpine waters

    • a person is under 12 years of age.

If not required to be worn, they must be stored or placed to allow quick and easy access, and must be either visible to passengers or their location clearly marked.     
They must also be in good condition and have no visible signs of wear and tear.

In NSW, it's the law to service your inflatable lifejacket once a year or in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

With a wide range of styles and colours available, there's a lifejacket to suit everyone's size and shape so you are able to choose the lifejacket that suits you and your needs.

Penalties apply to the owners and skippers of vessels found not carrying lifejackets, or if there are not enough lifejackets for everyone on board. Penalties also apply if occupants are not wearing lifejackets when they are required to do so or their inflatable lifejackets aren't serviced.

Check www.lifejacketwearit.com.au for more information.​

Go to the lifejackets page.

Old4New li​​​f​​​ejacket upgrade program

The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade van visits communities throughout NSW where you can exchange your old lifejacket for a new slimline lifejacket at a discounted price.Trained staff also provide advice on choosing the right lifejacket for your height, weight, ability and water activity, and tips on lifejacket care and service.

Find out more about the Old 4 New lifejacket program and where the van is visiting next at the Centre for Maritime Safety's website http://maritimemanagement.transport.nsw.gov.au/ or at www.facebook.com/maritime 

Connect with us - Lifej​​ackets


​Boating and alcohol

0.05 is the blood alcohol limit, just like on the roads, and if you are under 18, it's zero.If you are a commercial vessel operator your blood alcohol limit is 0.02.

Alcohol affects your coordination, vision, balance and reaction time, and is involved in over 20 per cent of boating incidents. So go easy on the drink, as Police conduct random breath testing and heavy penalties apply.​

Boating lice​​nces

If you drive a recreational boat at 10 knots or more in NSW waters, you need a boat driving licence.

If you ride a personal watercraft (PWC), such as a Jet Ski, Sea-Doo or Waverunner, at any speed, you must have a PWC driving licence.​

Find out about boating licence courses.
(This link goes to the Marine Rescue NSW website.)​

Maritime ale​rts

The Maritime Services provides a free email alerts for weather  and to remind you when your safety equipment expires. 

Find out about maritime alerts.
(This link goes to the Roads & Maritime website.)​

Boating and personal watercraft handbooks​​

Roads and Maritime publish handbooks to help you understand the rules and how to plan and prepare for your boating or personal watercraft outing.​

Roads & Maritime Boating Han​​dbook​​​

The Roads and Maritime Boating Handbook includes the waterway rules and safety advice.

Get the Boating Handbook in PDF from the Roads & Maritime website.​

Roads & Maritime Personal Wat​​ercraft Handbook​

The Roads and Maritime Personal Watercraft Handbook includes the rules for riding personal watercraft (jet ski) and provides tips on safety and how to avoid conflict with other people around the waterways.

Get the Personal Watercraft Handbook in PDF​ from the Roads & Maritime website.​

photo of two men preparing to go boating by checking their lifejackets.Above: two men prepare to go boating by checking their lifejackets.​