Recreational boating

If you want to go boating, paddling or sailing in Victoria, make sure you know your legal requirements and how to ensure you come home safely.

To find out what you need to know, select your vessel type or a safety topic.

Vessel types


Learn about the licensing, registration, minimum safety equipment and safe operation requirements for powered vessels.

Towed sports

Towed water sports include activities such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing and kneeboarding.

Charter vessels

A charter vessel is privately hired for activities such as fishing, touring or diving and is accordingly used in connection with a business or commercial activity.

Personal watercraft (PWCs)

Personal watercraft (PWCs) includes jet skis, wave runners and similar vessels that have an engine used for propulsion, fully enclosed hull, don’t retain water and are operated by standing, kneeling or sitting astride.

Sailing boats

A sailing boat is propelled partly or entirely by sails – including dinghies, skiffs and yachts.

Paddle craft

Paddle craft are vessels such as canoes, kayaks, row boats, surf skis and stand up paddle boards.


A kiteboarder, or kitesurfer, on the water is considered a vessel operator. They need to follow the relevant rules and regulations.

Safety topics

Licensing and registration

You need a marine licence (also known as a boat licence) to be the master of a recreational powerboat in Victoria. This includes sailing boats and paddle craft fitted with a motor – though some low-powered kayaks and canoes are exempt.

Any vessel with a motor or engine must be registered, with certain exceptions. All vessels must be in a seaworthy condition when they are operated on Victorian waters.

Trip preparation

Find out when you need to wear a lifejacket and what equipment you should have on board. You'll also need to understand marine weather reports, properly maintain your vessel and take steps to ensure you can get help in an emergency.

Trip preparation

Safe operation

How to safely handle your vessel in all situations, including launching and retrieving, loading, when anchoring and when refuelling.

Safe operation

Waterway safety

There are state and local rules that aid waterway safety in Victoria.

Waterway safety

In an emergency

What to do in the event of a boat fire, man overboard or having to abandon your vessel.

In an emergency

Reporting an incident

Your legal responsibilities for reporting marine incidents.

Boaters leaving and returning

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