How to register a vessel

How to register a boat or personal watercraft in NSW for the first time. Steps to apply, what paperwork you need, and how to maintain your registration.

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Register a vessel in NSW for the first time

You need to be at least 16 to register a boat or other vessel in NSW.

Your registration will last 12 months. See Renew or Transfer registration if your vessel is already registered in NSW.

In some cases maritime dealers may organise your registration.

To register a vessel yourself, you'll need to complete and submit your application to a service centre.

Follow these steps to register a vessel for the first time in NSW. This includes vessels previously registered interstate or overseas.

Check it needs registering

You need to register a vessel to use on NSW waterways if it:

  • has an engine of 4kW or more
  • is 5.5m or longer (with or without an engine)
  • is a personal watercraft (PWC)
  • needs a mooring licence or marina berth.

To check if a vessel is already registered, call 13 77 88 or visit a service centre.

There are penalties for operating an unregistered vessel.

If you have interstate or overseas registration, and you’re moving to NSW, or using NSW waterways longer than 3 consecutive months, you need to register the vessel in NSW. You can do this by following the steps on this page. If unsure whether you need NSW registration, see interstate or overseas registration.

Domestic commercial vessels (certain vessels used for a commercial, governmental or research activity) do not need NSW registration when operating under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012. See Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

For other watercraft, such as engine-powered hydrofoil boards, see Emerging technologies.

Prepare application

Get an Application for Vessel Registration (PDF, 262.13 KB) online or from a service centre.

Complete the application form. You'll need to include:

You need to get a Letter of Agreement for Recreational Vessel Registration if the vessel was:

  • previously issued a Unique Vessel Identifier (UVI) by AMSA or
  • used as a commercial vessel in Australia or overseas, and is now being registered for recreational use in NSW for the first time.

For information on how to do this, call 13 12 36.

Do I need third party insurance?

It’s not compulsory to have third party insurance to register a vessel in NSW. But Transport for NSW recommends it as part of comprehensive vessel insurance. Contact your insurer for information.

Provide proof of purchase

You need to provide proof of purchase (or 'proof of vessel acquisition') as part of your application.

This could be a receipt, bill of sale or consignment note (PDF, 830.57 KB). It must include:

  • full name and signature of seller
  • full name and address of buyer
  • date of sale and the words 'received payment in full', or similar
  • HIN (Boatcode) number (if available)*
  • full description of vessel.  

If your proof of purchase doesn't have these details, you can provide them in a Statutory Declaration (PDF, 159.78 KB).

*Some pre-1996 vessels don't have a HIN. After purchase you can arrange with a Boatcode agent to have one affixed.

Submit application

Use the Step 1 checklist to make sure you’ve got what’s required.

You can lodge your application:

Get and display registration

Once your registration is approved, you’ll receive:

  • a vessel registration certificate
  • an option to view, show, update, and renew your details on the Service NSW mobile app or online through your Service NSW account
  • a registration ‘number’ (numerals and letters).

You no longer need to display a registration label on your vessel.

You must display the following on your vessel. See What to display on your vessel for how you must display these items.

Maintain registration

Renew your registration on or before the due date. Your registration lasts 12 months. If the registration expires, you must not drive the vessel until it’s renewed.

If you decide to sell or give away the vessel, see Transferring registration.

Keep your registered vessel seaworthy. A registration can be cancelled or suspended if the vessel is found to be unsafe, unseaworthy or environmentally hazardous.

Changing your name or address? See Change a vessel's details and the form Adjustment of Records - Maritime Products Only (PDF, 904.92 KB).

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