Get practical boating experience

To apply for your boat licence, you must get practical boating experience. This includes experience using safety equipment and manoeuvring and handling a boat.

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Get evidence of practical experience

There are 2 ways you can get your practical experience when you're applying for a general boat driving licence:

You must apply for your licence within 12 months of getting this practical experience.

You don't need to show practical experience if you’re applying for a PWC licence or have certain commercial competencies. See Who is exempt.

Training and logbook with experienced skipper

You can do your practical training in your own time with an experienced skipper present.

During these practical boat trips you need to demonstrate skills from the Boating Licence Practical Logbook (PDF, 1019.39 KB). Download (PDF, 1019.39 KB) or get a free copy from a service centre.

Trip requirements

For your logbook (PDF, 1019.39 KB) to be accepted, you must take a minimum of 3 trips:

  • In a powered vessel operating under power (excluding PWC which aren't permitted).
  • In a vessel carrying the prescribed safety equipment, and lights if navigating at night time.
  • Not exceeding a speed of 10 knots when making these trips.
  • Within 12 months of the date you apply for a licence.
  • In the company of an experienced skipper.

The experienced skipper(s) must be over 18 and have a current and valid NSW or interstate boat driving licence they've held for at least 3 consecutive years. You can use different skippers, with each signing off on your skills.

We recommend at least one trip between sunset and sunrise to give you experience navigating at night.

There's no time limit to each of your on-water trips.

You can do your trips in a legally unregistered vessel such as a small-powered runabout if needed.

Logbook checks

Transport for NSW conducts random audits to check people have honestly completed their logbook. Falsifying a logbook is considered an offence with a maximum penalty of $5,500. It may lead to a boat licence being cancelled. 

Training with Authorised Training Provider

One way to get practical boating experience is through an Authorised Training Provider.  

See our video about getting your boating licence through a provider.

Before you enrol make sure the course:

  • Includes both theory and an on-water component.
  • Can provide evidence of your experience. When you pass the course, your provider will include this in your Application for Boat Driving Licence form. If you submit this evidence when applying for a licence, you won’t need to submit a logbook.

What if the course doesn’t have on-water training?

Some Authorised Training Providers provide theory but not on-water training. In that case you’ll need to:

  1. Do the theory for practical boating experience with the provider.
  2. Complete a logbook of on-water training with an experienced skipper in your own time (see Training and logbook above).

Authorised Training Providers in NSW

Authorised Training Providers (ATPs) conduct training and testing on behalf of Transport for NSW. They include:

Who is exempt from boating experience?

Some licence applicants don’t need to provide evidence of practical boating experience.

You’re exempt from providing evidence of experience if you’re:

  • Upgrading from a general boat to a PWC licence (as you already hold a general boat licence).
  • Transferring a licence from interstate to NSW - provided your interstate licence is current or expired less than 5 years ago.
  • Transferring commercial qualifications to a recreational licence – provided your commercial qualification is current or expired less than 5 years ago.
  • Carrying recognised qualifications that satisfy requirements for a general boat driving licence. For example, certain Yachting Australia courses. For details call 13 77 88.
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