On this page
About the Boating Handbook
The NSW Boating Handbook has practical information on NSW boating rules, safety, registration and penalties for on-water offences. The handbook is essential reading for anyone learning to drive a vessel. It aims to prepare you for the challenges and reduce your risk.
The Handbook is also a good way for experienced boaters to keep up to date with changes to the rules. It provides plain and clear communication about boating and navigating NSW waterways.
Laws change, so make sure you have the most recent version and stay in touch with updates by visiting our website regularly.
Access or download our interactive PDF version of the Boating Handbook (PDF, 8.35 MB) .
Access or download the interactive epub version of the Boating Handbook . The eBook can also be accessed via Google Play (Android devices) and iTunes (IOS devices).
Pick up a copy
The Boating Handbook is available free from NSW service centres.
Study for your licence
Everything you need to know to pass both the general boat licence knowledge test and the personal watercraft (PWC) licence knowledge test is in the Boating Handbook.
While all care is taken in producing the Boating Handbook, no responsibility is taken or warranty made with respect to the accuracy of any information, data or representation. This work is not intended to substitute a reader's reference to relevant laws and Transport for NSW expressly disclaims all liability in respect of the consequences of reliance on the contents if this work.
For formal legal interpretation, refer to the Marine Legislation on the NSW Legislation website or seek independent legal advice.
Keeping waterways safe
You can also find all the information from the Boating Handbook on our website.
The safety and rules section includes helpful information on how to prepare for a safe day on the water, such as:
- checklists for essential safety equipment
- rules for wearing a lifejacket, and
- what to do in an emergency.
The Using waterways section includes information on staying safe on the different waterways and designated areas.
It also outlines how to:
Understand the key rules to keep you and others safe by accessing the Boating Handbook.
The NSW Government is committed to reducing fatalities and serious injuries on NSW waterways. Certain behaviours and factors are commonly linked to incidents on the water. Avoiding these behaviours and making better decisions will reduce your risk.
- Always wear a lifejacket – it can only save your life if you are wearing it.
- Check the weather before you go and when you're out, and take extra care in cold water.
- Always travel at a safe speed and keep a look out for others.
- Know your limitations, and those of your vessel. Head out with others whenever possible.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs when boating.
Your behaviour and decisions on the water are an essential part of making our waterways safer and more enjoyable for everyone. See Maritime Safety Plan.