Penalties for boating offences

Know the penalties that apply to the most common boating offences in NSW.

On this page

The information given on this page is a guide only and is subject to change at any time without notice.

Receiving a penalty notice

If you commit an offence such as speeding on NSW waterways, the police or Transport for NSW may issue you a penalty notice.

You must pay the penalty within the time shown on the notice.

See Offences for information on different types of offences such as drink driving, negligent behaviour and speeding.

As a vessel owner, you’re responsible for ensuring your vessel is operated safely and correctly, even when you’re not using it.

Vessel impounding or forfeiture

There are penalties if someone uses a vessel in an anti-social way. Anti-social behaviour includes operating a vessel in a way that menaces another person, is reckless or dangerous.

If someone uses a vessel in an ‘anti-social manner’:

  • Authorised officers may seize and impound it for three months.
  • The owner may have to pay the costs of seizing and storing the vessel before we can return it.
  • The vessel may be impounded regardless of who was operating it at the time of the offence.

If the vessel is used in an 'anti-social manner' for a second or subsequent time in a 5-year period, authorised officers may seize and forfeit the vessel from the owner.

This can be done even if the two offences were committed by different operators and neither was the owner.

Search for penalties and offences

The tables below list the most common offences and the penalty notice amount to be paid for these offences. Most of these penalties are the on-the-spot penalties. If a court deals with the offence, the penalties can be much higher. See Offences for more information.

Speeding, disobeying signs
OffencePenalty notice amount
Disobeying speed sign by <10 knots (vessel)$100
Disobeying speed sign by <10 knots (PWC)$250
Disobeying speed sign by >10 knots (vessel)$250
Disobeying speed sign by >10 knots (PWC)$500
Disobeying ‘no wash’ sign$500
Disobeying other Transport signs$250
Breaching part B or C of the collision regulations (eg. failure to keep proper lookout, maintain safe speed or display navigation lights)$250


How you handle and manage a vessel
OffencePenalty notice amount
Operating a vessel negligently$500 (recreational)
$1500 (commercial vessel)
Operating a vessel recklessly or in a speed or manner that is dangerousCourt attendance notice only
Operating a vessel in a manner that menaces another personCourt attendance notice only
Interference with or obstruction of a navigation aid$500
Bow riding$250
Causing excessive wash (other than in no wash zone)$250
Breaching ‘distance off’ provisions (vessel) – including towing$100
Breaching ‘distance off’ provisions (PWC) – including towing$250
Overloading a vessel (weight)$500
Overloading a vessel (number of persons)$500
Driving PWC irregularly (in restriction zone or within 200m of dwelling)$250
Obstructing a channel or fairway$25


Licence and registration
OffencePenalty notice amount
Breaching a condition of licence$100
Operate an unregistered vessel$500
Driving a vessel (not PWC)>10 knots unlicensed$250
Driving a PWC unlicensed (1st offence)$500 + disqualification of any boat licence
Drive a PWC unlicensed (2nd or subsequent offence)$750 + disqualification of any boat licence
Driving while disqualifiedCourt attendance notice only
Failure to notify Transport for NSW of vessel/PWC transfer$100
Not displaying proper registration number$100


Obligations to authority (Transport for NSW officer, Harbour master (or delegate) or NSW Police)
OffencePenalty notice amount
Failure to produce licence on demand$500
Refusal to allow officer to stop or board vessel when directed$500
Failure to stop vessel when patrol vessel lights activated$500
Refusal to identify self$500
Failure to report accident to Maritime$500
Not complying with safety direction$500


OffencePenalty notice amount
Towing a person at night$250
Towing a person without proper observer (vessel)$250
Towing more than three people at a time$250
Towing a person without a proper observer (PWC)$500


Safety equipment
OffencePenalty notice amount
Failure to carry one item of essential safety equipment (other than a lifejacket)$100
Failure to carry a lifejacket or more than one item of essential safety equipment$250
One item of safety equipment expired or in poor condition (other than a lifejacket)$100
More than one item of safety equipment or a lifejacket expired or in poor condition$250
Not wearing a lifejacket when crossing bar (or master to ensure)$250
Not wearing a lifejacket on PWC$250
Not wearing a lifejacket in other required circumstances of heightened risk (eg night, open or alpine waters, children, boating alone)$250
Letting off flares when not in distress$500


OffencePenalty notice amount
Offensive noise (improper use of siren/bell/whistle)

300 (individual)

$600 (corporation)

Offensive noise (sound system on vessel)

$300 (individual)

$600 (corporation)

Offensive noise (engine noise)

$300 (individual)

$600 (corporation)

Breach of mooring licence condition (eg not servicing apparatus)$500 + possible cancellation of licence


Marine Pollution
OffencePenalty notice amount
Pollution of waters (oil)$5000
Pollution of waters (sewage)

$1500 (individual)

$5000 (corporation)

Pollution of waters (garbage)

$1500 (individual)

$5000 (corporation)


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