Rules for using NSW waterways

Being safe on the water is a responsibility we all share. Understand the rules to help keep you and others safe, and protect our waterways.

Proper lookout

Keeping a proper lookout is essential to keeping everyone safe on the water. Here's how to keep a proper lookout at all times.

Giving way, overtaking and avoiding collisions

Rules and advice to help you understand how and when to give way, overtake safely and avoid collisions on the waterway – for all vessels.

Safe distance

When you're out on the water, you must always keep a safe distance from people, other vessels, structures and the shore. Here are the rules.

Safe speed

A safe speed depends on many factors, such as visibility, your vessel's manoeuvrability and other vessels' movements. Here's how to judge safe speed.

Alcohol limits

You must not drive a vessel when you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It's also a good idea for passengers to stay under the limit.

People on board

As the skipper, you're responsible for the safety of everyone on board. This includes lifejacket wear, vessel loading and passenger behaviour.


Wash can be damaging to others and the environment. You must not create excessive wash out on the water. Here are the rules.

Using a vessel commercially

Thinking of using your vessel for commercial purposes, such as boat shares or overnight rental accommodation? Know the rules and regulations.

Rowing code of conduct

Additional light requirements for rowing vessels over 4 metres on NSW waterways between sunset and sunrise. This includes rowing craft, sculling craft, dragon boats, surf boats and outrigger canoes.

Surf boat rowing code of conduct

This code of conduct outlines additional light requirements for surf boat rowing on NSW waterways.

Offences on NSW waterways

Know the rules so you can stay safe and enjoy your day on the water.

Penalties on NSW waterways

The penalties that apply to the most common boating offences.

Contact Transport for NSW

More options to contact us
Phone:13 12 36
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 5:30pm, Saturday - Sunday: 8:30am - 4:30pm
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