Practical boating experience

Before you apply for a general boat driving licence, you'll need to provide evidence of your practical boating experience. You can upgrade from a general boat driving licence to a PWC licence at any time by passing a paper-based knowledge test.

How to gain practical boating experience

You have 2 options for gaining practical boating experience:

Taking a practical boating course

You can complete practical boating training with an Authorised Training Provider, such as:

Authorised Training Providers operate independently from Transport for NSW. Please note that not all Authorised Training Providers offer a full package of theory sessions, examinations and practical training. Some do not provide the practical component, in which case you will have to complete three trips with an experienced skipper and complete a log book. We recommend you contact a provider and check the services they offer before booking a course.

Proof of course completion

If you pass the course, the provider will complete the relevant section/s of the Application for Boat Driving Licence form (provided by the Authorised Training Provider). You will need to bring this form with you when you apply for your licence.

Theory and on-water components

Authorised Training Provider's practical boating experience training includes both theory and on-water components. If both components are included in the Authorised Training Provider's training courses, this satisfies the practical boating experience requirement of the licence application process and no log book is required.

However, there may be circumstances where an Authorised Training Provider cannot conduct the on-water training component of its course, for example, if the applicants are not close to a waterway.

In these cases, the Authorised Training Provider can complete the theory component of its practical boating experience training, along with the knowledge test, but you will need to complete the on-water training component by recording training details in a logbook with an experienced skipper.

Completing a Boating Licence Logbook

If you do not take a Practical Boating Course, you’ll need to complete a logbook. The Boating Licence Practical Logbook is free to download or you can collect a free copy from any service centre.

In addition to the log of your trips, it also includes guidelines and checklists to help you gain experience on the water.

Requirements for trips

You must take a minimum of 3 trips in a powered vessel (excluding a PWC) operating under power, in the company of an experienced skipper. You must not exceed a speed of 10 knots when making these trips.Only trips taken within 12 months of the date you apply for a licence will be recognised as practical boating experience.

There are no set requirements for the trips you take, but you must be able to demonstrate the required competencies as outlined in the logbook. We recommend you include at least one trip between sunset and sunrise to help you gain experience navigating at night.

Supervision by an experienced skipper

The skipper must have at least a current and valid NSW or interstate boat driving licence, which they've held for at least 3 consecutive years.

You must enter the trip details in the logbook and have them verified by the skipper. You can use different skippers, and any of the skippers can sign-off that you have demonstrated the required competencies. ATPs have experienced skippers.


You can make your trips in any powered vessel (including a sailing vessel operating under power) except a PWC.

There is no requirement for the vessel to be registered, so you may gain experience in a small powered runabout.

When you don't need to provide evidence of boating experience

Some applicants are exempt from the requirement to provide evidence of practical boating experience. You may be exempt if you are:

Upgrading from a general boat to a PWC licence

If you already hold a general boat driving licence and are applying to upgrade to a PWC driving licence, you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience. You do however need to pass the .

Transferring an interstate licence to a NSW licence

If you wish to transfer an interstate boat or PWC driving licence to a NSW equivalent, you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience provided your interstate licence is current or has been expired less than 5 years.

Transferring commercial qualifications to a recreational licence

If you wish to transfer a commercial qualification to a recreational boat or PWC driving licence you do not need to provide evidence of practical boating experience provided your commercial qualification is current, or has been expired less than 5 years.

Recognised qualifications

Successful completion of certain Yachting Australia courses is recognised as satisfying the full requirements, including the practical component, for the issue of a general boat driving licence.

Other qualifications may be recognised. For more information call 13 77 88.

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