Recreational Boating Safety Handbook

The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook contains guidance and safety information for all recreational boaters; including power boaters, sailors, kayakers, jet skiers and kiteboarders.

The Handbook is a valuable reference if you are applying for a marine licence.


The complete Handbook is available to download below in PDF or accessible Word format.

The current issue was released in 2021, with only minor updates to the 2018 and 2020 versions.

Scroll down for options to download by chapter to ease download times.

Postal requests

To request a free hard copy of the Handbook, send your name and full postal address to

Please expect a delay of up to several weeks during times of COVID-19 restrictions impacting office functions.

Regulatory environment

  • Introduction
  • Safety duties

Download the regulatory environment section of the handbook in PDF or Word format: 

Chapter 1 - Essentials for safe boating

  • Before you go boating
  • Heightened risk
  • Safety equipment
  • Lifejacket wear
  • Trip preparation
  • Weather hazards and conditions
  • Crossing ocean bars
  • Interstate boating
  • Environment and wildlife
  • Marine national parks and marine sanctuaries
  • Environment protection

Download Chapter 1 of the handbook in PDF or Word format:

Chapter 2 - Safe operation

  • Speed and distance rules
  • Hoon laws
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Transit only zones and channels
  • Know the Collision Regulations
  • Buoyage IALA System A
  • Buoyage types
  • Boating zone buoyage (inland waterways)
  • Boating zone marks and signage
  • Navigation lights
  • Day shapes for vessels
  • Sound and light signals
  • Basic boat handling tips
  • Towed water sports

Download Chapter 2 of the handbook in PDF or Word format:

Chapter 3 - Emergency procedures

  • Coping with emergencies
  • Abandoning vessel
  • Person overboard
  • Cold water immersion
  • Fire
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • First aid
  • Reporting incidents and accidents

Download Chapter 3 of the handbook in PDF or Word format:

Chapter 4 - Licensing and registration

  • Recreational marine licensing
  • Types of marine licences
  • Operating under supervision
  • Hire and drive requirements
  • Obtaining a marine licence
  • Marine licence fees
  • Interstate marine licence holders
  • Victorians travelling interstate
  • People visiting Victoria
  • Commercial marine qualifications holders
  • Evidence of identity
  • Applicants with poor vision
  • Applicants with a disability or medical condition
  • Vessel registration requirements
  • Registration labels and identification marks
  • Hull identification number

Download Chapter 4 of the handbook in PDF or Word format:

Chapter 5 - Personal watercraft (PWC)

  • Personal watercraft
  • PWC operator conduct
  • Speed and distance rules
  • Know the Collision Regulations
  • Hoon laws
  • Noise
  • Safety equipment
  • Towed water sports
  • Carrying capacity
  • Penalties
  • Licensing and registration
  • Ride Right

Download Chapter 5 of the handbook in PDF or Word format:


Please contact us if you have trouble downloading the documents or if you have any specific accessibility requirements.

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