Australian Builders Plates

The Australian Builder's Plate (ABP) has been developed by the National Marine Safety Committee through a joint initiative of Government and industry.

It aims to enhance recreational boat user safety by clearly stating key vessel operational capabilities in an obvious location on the vessel.

What is an ABP?

The ABP Standard requires that an information plate be affixed to most new recreational boats, including imported boats. In Victoria, recreational boats built after 21 October 2009, unless exempted from ABP requirements, must be fitted with a plate before first sold.

This plate provides information on: maximum weight and power rating of the engine, maximum persons capacity, the maximum load that the boat can carry (including people and equipment) and a buoyancy statement for boats up to six metres in length. Boats over six metres do not need to display a statement of the boat's buoyancy characteristics.

The information provided on the plate must be determined in accordance with Australian or international standards for recreational vessel design and construction. The plate itself is a statement by the manufacturer about the vessel. There are two types of builder's plate, one for boats under six metres in length and another for boats six metres in length.

Which vessels are exempt?

The following vessels are not required to have an ABP fitted:

  • Second hand vessels
  • Vessels built for export from Australia
  • Vessels built exclusively for racing in organised events
  • Aquatic toys including, but not limited to, an object designed solely to be towed behind a recreational boat
  • Amphibious vehicles
  • Canoes kayaks or surf skis or similar vessels designed to be propelled by paddle
  • Hydrofoils or hovercrafts
  • Pedal powered vessels
  • Racing boats
  • Rowing shells used for racing or rowing training
  • Sailboards
  • Sailing vessels
  • Submersibles
  • Surf row boats
  • Personal watercraft (PWCs) designed to carry no more than two persons
  • Personal watercraft (PWCs) designed to carry three or more persons if the following information is written on or attached to the personal watercraft in a clearly visible place:
    • the total weight of persons and equipment that the vessel may carry (expressed in kilograms), as recommended by the builder of the vessel
    • the maximum number of persons the vessel may carry, as recommended by the builder of the vessel
  • Inflatable boats to which ISO 6185 applies if the boat:
    • has a plate attached to it in accordance with the requirements of the European Union for inflatable boats that certifies that the boat complies with those requirements; or
    • has a plate attached to it in accordance with the requirements of the US National Marine Manufacturers Association for inflatable boats that certifies that the boat complies with those requirements
  • Vessels for which a certificate of survey has been issued, or which is to be, or has been submitted for survey for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of survey

What about PWCs and inflatable boats?

The ABP applies to personal water craft (PWC) unless the vessel already has the following information written on or attached to the vessel in a clearly visible location:

  • The total weight of persons and equipment that the vessel may carry (expressed in kilograms), as recommended by the builder of the vessel
  • The maximum number of persons the vessel may carry (as recommend by the builder of the vessel).

In most circumstances an ABP will apply to inflatable boats unless the vessel already has a plate affixed in accordance with the requirements of the European Union for inflatable boats that certifies that the boat complies with those requirements. 

Alternatively it may have a plate attached in accordance with the requirements of the United States National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Who is responsible for fitting an ABP to a boat?

The builder or importer is responsible for fixing the plate to the boat in a position where it can be seen by the operator when getting the boat underway.

Builders or importers not familiar with the standard to which the vessel is built should engage the services of a competent person to determine what information should be contained on the plate.

Boat dealers who modify boats prior to sale or supply must ensure that the information shown on the ABP remains correct. If the modifications render the ABP information incorrect then a new plate must be fixed to the boat prior to sale or supply.

Who can approve the information on an ABP?

The information on the plate must be determined by:

  • The builder of the vessel
  • A competent person, or
  • A person who imported the vessel into Australia from overseas.

For this purpose a competent person means a person who has the knowledge and skills to be able to determine the information to be included in an ABP in accordance with the ABP Standard because of one or more of the following:

  • The person's training
  • The person's qualifications
  • The person's experience.

What about imported boats?

The requirements of the National Standard for the Australian Builders Plate for Recreational Boats (the ABP standard) apply equally to both locally built and imported boats. The scope of the standard, setting out the types of boats it covers, is within the national standard itself which can be downloaded below. If in doubt, please contact us.

More information can be found on the Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group website.

Where does the ABP need to be affixed?

The plate must be permanently fixed and readily visible to the boat's operator in the cockpit or near the steering position. In addition, the plate must be permanently fixed in a way that it shall be resistant to removal without leaving some obvious sign.

Obtaining an ABP

Vessel manufacturers and importers are able to produce their own plates so long as the required information is displayed clearly or plates can be obtained from the Boating Industries Alliance Australia website.

How will the ABP be enforced?

The ABP must be fitted to new vessels, unless exempted, when they are first sold or offered for sale.