General Boat Licence Course

The General Boat Licence is required for anyone who would like to drive a boat in NSW waters and go faster than walking pace, but we still receive lots of questions about the finer points of a getting a Licence.

We’ve crafted and refined our full-day course for over a decade to guide you effortlessly through all the RMS requirements, and we’re proud of our 99.5% average pass rate.

Who needs to have a Boat Licence?

A Boat Licence is needed for any person who wants to drive a boat in a recreational capacity faster than 10 knots, or 18.5km/h.

This speed isn’t very fast, and even a tinny can break this barrier easily. The full Licence will let you drive any boat of any length, so long as it’s not in a commercial capacity – you can’t run a business, or drive the Manly Ferry.

If you’re hoping to drive a PWC or Jet-Ski, you can get that in a single day Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence Coursewith ABC ,  or if you already have your Boat Licence, you can get a PWC Licence Upgrade.

Practical Boating Experience

As part of the course we’ll take you out on the water, aboard one of our ABC vessels, and guide you through the different boating techniques that you need to know.

We cover Low Speed Manoeuvres (you’ll drive forward and backward), Man Over-Board drills (with Bob the trained and certified safety buoy), High Speed Manoeuvres and more.

It’s a fun experience that takes a couple hours, and as we’re a RTP, or Recognised Training Provider, this removes the need for a practical logbook from the RMS.

The boating practical is typically the favourite section of the day, it’s a ton of fun!

How much does the Boat Licence Course cost?

Check the calendar on our centre’s home page for current costs, including any specials.

How long does the Full-Day Course take?

Start times will be confirmed via Email and SMS before the course.

Courses typically run from 8am until 5pm, subject to seasonal changes.

Learn the NSW Boating Rules

There is a minimum amount of knowledge required about the laws and rules that cover use of NSW waterways, and many students ask us on the phone “Where do I even start to learn?”

We might be a bit biased, but the perfect place to start is our pre-study guide that we’ve assembled through years of testing. Added to that is the free self-study quizzes on our site, so you can do a fair bit of licence studying at home.

It only takes about 45 minutes at home to read the ABC pre-study guide before your course and it primes you on all the terms you’ll need out on the water.

We’ll also use our guide as a reference in the classroom, where we teach you the rules and get them to stick through years of instructing students.

Pass the NSW Boat Licence Test

Once you’ve been primed with all the info you could need, we sit the multiple choice exam on paper in our closed-book classroom environment.

Our success rate is an incredibly high 99.5%, with two attempts included at the test on the day. If you don’t pass during the course, you can come back on any other course date and have another go – at no additional cost!

Lodge your Application at the RMS

Now you’ve completed your full-day course with ABC, just take your completed application form to any RMS or Services NSW branch, no appointments needed.

Simply enter the branch, select “Maritime” on the touchscreen for a numbered ticket, give them your form when called, pay the licence fee, and get your licence on the spot!

Get out on the water

You’re now qualified and equipped to take your vessel out on the water, congratulations!

If you want to hone your skills or learn any advanced boating techniques, please feel free to look at our personalised custom boating lessons and get expert hands-on training today.

What about the Junior Boat Licence?

The Junior Boat Licence is now included as part of the standard Boat Licence, and the requirements for it are the same as an adult licence.

Juniors are eligible to lodge their course paperwork when they are aged between 12 and 16 years of age; however they can complete their ABC course and lodge on/after their twelfth birthday.

The RMS website states that a Boat Licence holder between 12 and 16 must not:

  • Drive at a speed greater than 20 knots
  • Drive in any race, display, regatta, exhibition or similar operation
  • Drive any vessel, other than a PWC, at a speed of 10 knots or more:
    • Without the holder of a general boat driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present in the vessel, or
    • Between sunset and sunrise, or
    • While the vessel is towing anyone.

If you’d like to read more about the restrictions please refer to the RMS.

Do I need to do a Boating Safety Course?

The Boating Safety Course was a requirement for getting a boat licence, however as of 1 July 2016 this is no longer necessary.

You’ll get everything you need to qualify for your licence with our standard NSW Boat Licence Course.

Boat Theory Course

This course is intended for students who already have a valid NSW General Boating Licence – if you need the Boat Licence you can do our combined Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence Course.

It’s a short, two-hour course that will get you qualified for your Jet Ski/PWC Licence quick.

What is the Boat Theory Course needed for?

The two main components of competency for a Boat Licence are practical experience, and knowledge of the boating rules and laws that is demonstrated through the NSW Boat Licence Knowledge Test.

You must display this knowledge in 100% of Recreational Boat Licence applications, and there are no exemptions for pre-existing commercial knowledge.

Roads and Maritime Services set a high bar so that we can all be safe out on the water.

Why would I choose this over the full-day course?

There are two main scenarios that people approach us for just the Practical Boating Experience:

I’ve done my logbook but want help with the theory study

If you have a mate with a boat who meets the RMS practical logbook requirements, you’ll still need to know enough to pass the Boating Test.

We at ABC make it easy for you, with our ABC pre-study guide and a course designed to get you qualified in a single day!

I’m concerned about failing the test at the RMS

While it’s possible to do the study in your own time and take the test at the RMS, you’ll need to pay the test fee for each attempt.

With ABC you get two attempts at the test included in the course on the day, and two more attempts every other day until you pass!

What happens during the Boat Theory Course?

Once you’ve booked and paid, we’ll send you an email confirmation and an SMS/text message the day before the course with a start time and location.

You’ll meet us in the classroom of one of our venues, where our ABC Instructors will give you the following knowledge (and more):

Boating Terms, Vessel Registration, Safety Equipment

We start at the most obvious point of learning – covering basic boating terms such as port, starboard, hull, keel, plane and stern.

There are also pitfalls that most people don’t consider out on the water, that can land you with a big fine if you’re caught!

Ensuring you have the proper knowledge of safety equipment also means you’ll be prepared when in control of your own vessel.

Collision Regulations, Meaning of Vessel Lights, Anchoring

Collisions and other incidents are a real problem out on the water, and the Centre for Maritime Safety published the three most common fatal boating incident types from 2006-2016.

These fatal incidents are capsizing, falling overboard, and injuries sustained while towing.

We’ll teach you how to avoid these in full sun or at night, by observing the red, green and white vessel lights and by anchoring safely out of the way.

Trip Planning, Emergency Response, Launching and Mooring

It sounds straightforward, but ensuring you’ve got everything shipshape is important with any trip out on the water.

You’ll be better prepared to respond to emergencies, and have everything you need when leaving and returning from your trip.

Charts, Coastal Bars, Water Marks, Tides

Modern vessels carry GPS units that in most cases reduce the need for charts, but in equipment failure or on vessels without GPS, it’s essential to know how to properly read a Hydrographic Chart.

It’s also important to know what the colourful markers mean in the waterways, as it could be the difference between safety and damage to vessel or passenger.

Most people won’t ever cross a Coastal Bar, but it’s one of the riskier obstacles on the water and not the faint of heart – we’ll teach you how to approach them.

How do I book for a Boat Theory Course?

The quickest way is to browse our standard Boat Licence Course Booking System and look for a course date that suits you.

Once you’ve found one, just get in touch with us via the enquiry form or call, and we’ll book you in.

When you’re done with the course we’ll give you a form that proves you’ve completed the theory training and Boat Test required for your NSW Boat Licence.

You can use this in combination with proof of practical boating experience to get your Licence from the RMS.

How much does the theory course cost?

Check the calendar on our centre’s home page for current costs, including any specials.

Practical Boating Experience in NSW

Our Practical Boating Experience Course is endorsed by the RMS through our validation as an RTP, which means we can completely replace the need for doing a practical logbook.

It’s a major component of our standard General Boat Licence Course, but in some circumstances it’s a very flexible option that can fill in the requirements for a full NSW Boat Licence.

You’ll be with us on the water for roughly two hours, where we’ll take you through all the proficiencies in a round-robin style where you’ll get a turn at handling one of our vessels.

Our Instructors are all experienced in delivering top notch training, and you’ll be ship-shape in no time!

What is the Practical Boating Experience needed for?

The two main components of competency for a Boat Licence are Theory Knowledge (which you can do by itself as a Boating Theory and Test Course), and providing evidence of practical boating experience.

It is required in most situations, except for the exemptions listed on the RMS practical boating experience page:

  • Applying for the re-issue of a NSW general or PWC driving licence that has been expired for less than five years
  • Upgrading from a general boat driving to a PWC driving licence
  • Transferring an interstatelicence to a NSW equivalent
  • The holder of commercial qualifications.

The RMS wants evidence of past boating experience as proof that you’re qualified to be out on NSW waterways.

Why would I choose this over the full-day course?

There are two main scenarios that people approach us for just the Practical Boating Experience:

I’ve done the theory and don’t have access to a boat for my logbook

You might have done the study and test in your own time or with a competitor, but aren’t able to access a vessel for the logbook.

We make it easy and can take you aboard one of our ABC vessels during our standard courses to get your practical boating evidence from our Instructors.

How much does the practical boat course cost?

Check the calendar on our centre’s home page for current costs, including any specials.

I don’t have the time to do three separate trips

It can be a time-consuming hassle to do three separate trips with a qualified NSW Boat Licence holder.

With ABC we will get you through in a single morning!

What happens during the Practical Boating Experience?

Once you’ve booked and paid, we’ll send you an email confirmation and an SMS/text message the day before the course with a start time and location.

You’ll meet one of our ABC Instructors who will take you out aboard one of our ABC vessels, where we’ll cover the following (and more):

Before Launch: Trip preparation and planning

Our Instructors will give you a brief introduction to the vessel, including best practices for servicing and maintenance.

They’ll also talk about ensuring safety equipment is on board, and that the vessel is prepared for launch.

We’ll also cover trip planning to consider weather, passenger count, and emergency situations.

Low-Speed navigation and collision avoidance

Once we’re underway, we’ll let you start the motor and throttle up gently with some low-speed manoeuvres.

Man Over-Board Drill

In the rare situation where a passenger were to fall into the water, it’s always good to know how to safely get them out again.

For this we’ve enlisted Bob, our trained and certified safety buoy, who is thrown into the water and it’s up to you to get him back safely. We’ll cover lines of sight, safe rescue speeds, communication with other rescuers, and finally the safe return of Bob.

High-Speed navigation and vessel control

The fastest way to get somewhere is to drive at full speed, but boats handle differently when they’re up on plane. We’ll teach you how to control the vessel while going over 20 knots, as well as crossing other vessel wash and tight 180? turns.

How do I book for a Practical Boating Experience?

The quickest way is to browse our standard Boat Licence Course Booking System and look for a course date that suits you. Once you’ve found one, just get in touch with us via the enquiry form or call, and we’ll book you in.

When you’re done with the course we’ll give you a form that proves you’ve done all the Practical Boating Experience required for your NSW Boat Licence.

You can use this in combination with proof of theory completion to get your Licence from the RMS.

Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence Course

Doing this course with ABC in NSW qualifies you for a Boat & PWC Licence – which stands for Personal Water Craft, and allows you to ride a Jet Ski.

This course gets you qualified for your combined Licence in a single day, and is essential for those intending to ride, buy or rent a Jet Ski in the near future.

What are the steps to getting my Licence?

Our Course includes:

  • Demonstrate Practical Boating Experience
  • Learn all relevant Boating Rules
  • Know all relevant PWC Rules
  • Complete Two Multiple-Choice Knowledge Tests
  • Lodge your paperwork at the RMS
  • Get your combined Licence

Who needs to have a Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence?

This type of licence is needed for anyone who wants to drive any kind of boat or ride any kind of powered water craft in a recreational capacity.

It covers all the requirements that the General Boat Licence Course  does, and also adds in the extras for PWC usage.

If you already have your NSW Boat Licence and just want to add on the PWC Licence, you can do a short PWC Upgrade Course.

How do I Demonstrate Practical Experience?

It’s easy! We cover all the practical experience that you need as part of our standard Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Course.

Just come aboard one of our ABC vessels and let us take you through all the manoeuvres that the RMS need you to demonstrate.

To learn more about what it’s like on the day, check out our Practical Boating Experience page.

Practical takes about two hours out on NSW’s waterways, and replaces the need for the RMS logbook.

How do I learn the Boating Rules?

You’ll start by reading the ABC pre-study guide at home, which takes about an hour.

Then we’ll teach you the NSW Boating Rules you need to know to pass your exam as part of our hands-on training in the classroom.

We’ll use our guide and the RMS Boating Handbook as references in the classroom to make sure you know your stuff.

How do I learn the PWC Rules?

It’s very similar to the Boating Rules, in that you’ll start at home with the pre-study guide and get a good overview of the content.

Then you’ll join the other students doing the PWC course in extra theory training that will cover all the rules – knowing and obeying the rules will help you avoid a fine!

How hard are the two Knowledge Tests?

We get this question all the time, but as our 99.5% pass rate attests we’re confident that you’ll pass both the exams with us on the day.

You’ll get two attempts included at each test on the day of your course, and if you don’t pass them, you can come back on any other course date for another go – at no additional cost!

How much do the lessons cost?

Check the calendar on our centre’s home page for current costs, including any specials.

Now you’ve completed your full-day course with ABC, just take your completed application form to any RMS or Services NSW branch, no appointments needed.Lodge your Application at the RMS

Simply enter the branch, select “Maritime” on the touchscreen for a numbered ticket, give them your form when called, pay the licence fee, and get your licence on the spot!

When can I start using my Boat and Jet Ski licence?

Immediately! Just make sure you have your temporary licence with you on every trip, and replace it when your plastic card arrives in the mail.

There are heavy fines if you’re caught without your PWC Licence if you’re riding a Jet Ski, so don’t forget to take it with you!

Do I need a Marine Radio Licence?

A Marine Radio Licence is necessary if your boat is fitted with a Radio, and it’s good follow up to the Full-Day General Boat Licence Course.

Don’t wait, get you Marine Radio Licence through Australian Boating College NSW!

Can a Junior get a Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence?

So long as the junior is aged between 12-16, they can lodge their application form at the RMS and receive a combined Boat & PWC Licence.

The RMS website states that a Boat & PWC Licence holder between 12 and 16 must not:

  • Drive at a speed greater than 20 knots
  • Drive in any race, display, regatta, exhibition or similar operation
  • Drive any vessel, other than a PWC, at a speed of 10 knots or more:
    • Without the holder of a general boat driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present in the vessel, or
    • Between sunset and sunrise, or
    • While the vessel is towing anyone.
  • Drive a PWC between sunset and sunrise (this rule applies to all PWC driving licence holders)
  • Drive a PWC at a speed of 10 knots or more:
    • Without the holder of a PWC driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present on the PWC, or
    • While the vessel is towing anyone.

If you’d like to read more about the restrictions please refer to the RMS.

Do I need to do any Practical Assessment for the PWC Licence?

No, there is no need to get out on the water on a Jet Ski as part of our course, as the RMS only requires theoretical knowledge.

If you want to hone your skills or learn any advanced boating techniques, please feel free to look at our personalised custom boating lessonsand get expert hands-on training today.

How long does the Full-Day Course take?

Start times will be confirmed via Email and SMS before the course.

Courses typically run from 8am until 5pm, subject to seasonal changes.

Jet Ski/PWC Licence Upgrade Course

This course is intended for students who already have a valid NSW General Boating Licence – if you need the Boat Licence you can do our combined Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence Course.

It’s a short, two-hour course that will get you qualified for your Jet Ski/PWC Licence quick.

What’s involved in Upgrading to a PWC Licence?

All the steps to upgrading your Licence are included in our course:

  • Know all relevant PWC Rules
  • Pass the Multiple-Choice PWC Knowledge Test
  • Lodge your paperwork at the RMS

When is a Jet Ski/PWC Licence Needed?

You’ll need a Jet Ski/PWC Licence to ride any vessel that you sit or stand on, while a boat licence is required for vessels you sit inside of (such as a boat).

This Licence covers PWC vessels that seat one to four riders, in a recreational capacity, at any speeds that the vessel can attain.

If you don’t need this type of Licence you can check out our standard General Boating Licence Course.

What do I need to study for the PWC Rules?

Once you’ve booked into our course we’ll email you the ABC pre-study guide, and it only takes 20 minutes to read over the PWC knowledge section. We also have PWC study quizzes available on this site.

This gives you a head start on the PWC Rules, which we’ll reinforce once you meet us at the classroom.

We’ll make sure to point out all the important rules that can help you avoid a costly fine while jetting around NSW  waterways.

Is the PWC Knowledge Test Hard?

As you’ve already done study before your course and minutes before sitting the exam, it’s very easy to pass on the day of your course.

If you don’t pass during the first two attempts at the test, you can come back on any other course date and have another go – at no additional cost!

How much does an upgrade cost?

Check the calendar on our centre’s home page for current costs, including any specials.

Do I have to get wet for my PWC Licence?

No,there is no need to get out on the water on a Jet Ski as part of our course, as the RMS only requires theoretical knowledge.

If you want to get out on the water with ABC or practice any boating manoeuvres, please feel free to look at our personalised custom boating lessons to get expert hands-on training today.

Take your paperwork to the RMS

When you’ve finished your Jet Ski/PWC Licence Upgrade Course you can take the completed form to any RMS/Services NSW branch.

Just select “Maritime” on the touchscreen for a numbered ticket, give them your form when called, pay the licence fee, and get your newly upgraded Licence on the spot!

Can a Junior Upgrade to a Boat & Jet Ski/PWC Licence?

So long as the junior is aged between 12-16, they can lodge their application form at the RMS and receive an upgraded Boat & PWC Licence.

The RMS website states that a Boat & PWC Licence holder between 12 and 16 must not:

  • Drive a PWC between sunset and sunrise (this rule applies to all PWC driving licence holders)
  • Drive a PWC at a speed of 10 knots or more:
    • Without the holder of a PWC driving licence who is 16 years of age or older being present on the PWC, or
    • While the vessel is towing anyone.

If you’d like to read more about the restrictions please refer to the RMS.