Powerboats

This page outlines the licensing, registration, minimum safety equipment and safe operation requirements for powered vessels.

Please note: For the purposes of this site, "powered vessels" does not include personal watercraft (PWCs). Our PWC page has specific safety information for PWC operators.

Licensing and registration

Any boat with an engine capable of being used for propulsion in Victorian waters must be registered and in a seaworthy condition. Registration must be renewed every 12 months. 

You must also hold a current recreational boat licence to operate a registered vessel on Victorian waters. There are two types:

  • General marine licence - required by anyone 16 years of age or over operating a registered vessel
  • Restricted marine licence - required by anyone over the age of 12, and under 16, who is operating a registered vessel.

The licensing and buying and registration sections of this website have more information on applying for your marine licence; what to look out for when buying vessels; and how to register a vessel in Victoria.

Lifejackets

The lifejackets you are required to carry and wear depend on the size of your vessel, the waterway you are operating on and any conditions of heightened risk.

Power-driven boat up to and including 4.8m in length

All persons must wear a:

  • Type 1 (Level 100+) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway on coastal and enclosed waters
  • Type 1, 2 or 3 (Level 100+, Level 50 or level 50S) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway on inland waters.

Power-driven boat 4.8m - 12m in length

All persons aged 10 years and over must wear a:

  • Type 1 (Level 100+) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway on coastal and enclosed waters at times of heightened risk
  • Type 1, 2 or 3 (Level 100+, Level 50 or level 50S) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway on inland waters at times of heightened risk

Children under 10 years of age must wear a:

  • Type 1 (Level 100+) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway on coastal and enclosed waters
  • Type 1, 2 or 3 (Level 100+, Level 50 or level 50S) lifejacket when in an open area of a vessel that is underway.

Our Wear A Lifejacket website has everything you need to know about: lifejacket laws in Victoria; what jacket you need to wear, when; choosing the right lifejacket for your lifestyle; and looking after your lifejacket.

Other safety equipment

In addition to wearing an approved lifejacket, operators of powered craft must also carry at least the minimum safety equipment for the waterway and conditions they are operating in.

The video below explains the minimum requirements. The trip preparation section of this website has a full list of the safety equipment for powered vessels, including more information on the individual items and how to use them. 

If operating at night, you must show the lights for a powerboat

Keeping your vessel in good working order is not only common sense; it is a legal requirement. Look after your boat so it looks after you – maintain it after each trip and have it regularly serviced.

Speed and distance

All vessels are required to travel at a safe speed at all times. The master of a powerboat must constantly monitor the speed of the vessel to ensure that a safe speed is being maintained. Follow speed signs and buoys marking waterway zones.

If you cannot maintain the minimum distances you must slow to 5 knots. PWC operators are subject to hoon legislation. Our safe operation section includes more information about speed and distance rules.

Image instructing PWC riders about the speed and distance rules

Other safe operation rules

The Marine Safety Act and the Marine Safety Regulations require that the vessel is operated in a safe condition and manner, and according to the conditions of registration

Make sure you know the boating rules applicable to the waterway you intend to use (see the Vessel Operating and Zoning Rules for particulars) and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

The safe operation section of our website has more information on vessel handling, buoyage and navigation and operating rules.

If you use a trailer

Owners and operators of trailer boats should make themselves aware of the following information on the VicRoads website, relating to towing loads on the road.

Photo of two people in a power boat