Want or need a NSW boat licence? What are your Options?

We have put together a summary of the different ways to get a NSW boat licence. You can download it here:

Be sure to read about the ‘Gotchas’ in there so you don’t end up wasting money.

Read on here for a much more detailed overview of the way it all works:


The requirements for boat licensing in NSW have changed several times in the past 10 years. It can be confusing for newcomers to work out their options. In this document we summarise the different ways to get your NSW Boat Licence.

Why do you need a boat licence in NSW?

  • To drive a powerboat over 10 knots

Who can get a boat licence?

  • Adults
  • Children, aged 12 – 16 (The kids’ course is no different to the adult course – kids are just restricted in what they can do with their licence on a boat until they turn 16.)

What kinds of boat can I drive with a boat licence?

  • Any powerboat that has the capacity to go faster than 10 knots (for recreational use)

NB: To drive a PWC (Personal Water Craft), aka JetSki, you need a theory-only add-on to your boat licence.

The process for getting a boat licence can be approached a couple of ways but either way, you’ll need to complete these 3 steps:

  1. Study the required theory knowledge such that you can pass the test below
  2. Pass a boating knowledge test
  3. Get and demonstrate the required practical experience

You can complete each step separately or you can complete them as part of a single course offered by a number of recognised training organisations including MyHarbour.


Step 1. Complete a Boat Safety Theory Course

Option A. Undertake a recognised course that includes the theory course. (These courses will either offer an online self-study theory course (like ours) or they will put you in a classroom and walk you through the course using a projector and slides.)

Option B. Self study: purchase a DVD, take an online course, read a bookOption C. Attend a face-to-face theory-only course run by a training company

Step 2. Take a Knowledge Test

Option A. Undertake a recognised course that includes the Knowledge Test – some courses, like ours, include the test and some require you to do it at the Service NSW office after the course.

Option B. Book and attend a knowledge test administered by Service NSW.

Step 3. Obtain and Demonstrate Practical Experience

Option A. Undertake a recognised course that includes the Practical Experience.

Option B. Complete a NSW Maritime Logbook. This requires 3 trips out on a boat with a skipper that has held their NSW boat licence for at least 3 years. You need to complete some activities that demonstrate your skill and have that skipper sign them off on your logbook.

So How Do I Actually Get All of These Steps Completed?

There are a couple of different pathways to completing each of these steps. Which path you choose will depend on how you prefer to study (online or face-to-face), how much time you have and how much you’d like to spend on getting your licence.


Pathway 1: Take a Course (with MyHarbour!)
You can complete all 3 steps (Boat Theory, Knowledge Test and Practical Experience) in a single course. This is the kind of course we offer at MyHarbour.

Our courses cost about $250. They can cost a little more than DIYing but they take a lot less time and organisation. At the end of the course, you will have everything you need to go to the Service NSW and get your boat licence issued. No more testing at Service NSW!

Best Suited For:

  • People who want to complete their theory training online, accord to their own availability.
  • People who want to get their training on the water.
  • People who want to be confident they really know how to handle a boat on the water.


Pathway 2: DIY – get your licence by doing the following:

  1. Complete the boat theory study with a DVD, book, or face-to face theory-only course
  2. Undertake the Knowledge Test as part of the face-to-face theory-only course or at a Service NSW Centre
  3. Complete a NSW Maritime Logbook by taking three seperate trips with a qualified skipper.

This is the cheapest (in dollar terms, not time) way to get a licence. It will cost between $100 and $450 in fees plus a slab of beer for your mate that’s a qualified skipper.

While can be a cheaper pathway, it will take longer, needs more organisation, requires you to have a willing mate with a boat and an eligible current boat licence (for the three logbook sign-off sessions) and you will get less hands-on experience thus building less confidence.

Best Suited For:

  • People who want to save money,
  • People who have more spare time, and/or
  • People who have driven boats all their lives elsewhere and already feel confident handling a boat.


If you would like to get your licence completed in one session, the best pathway to take is by signing up for a Recognised Training Course.

You will get up-to-date knowledge and you will save a ton of time not running around making sure you have all the steps completed. It will also give you a chance to ask qualified instructors all of the questions you will undoubtedly have……

Check out the following information on the types of training courses that are available. They are not all the same so you will need to decide what kind of training to do so you can feel confident on the water.

3+1 Types of Recognised Training Courses
If you decide to go down the training course pathway (pathway 1), there are 3 (and a bit) different styles of powerboat licence training courses currently offered in NSW.

Type 1: “Doing” Courses – This is what we offer at MyHarbour:
These courses usually have a smaller group of people on them – typically capped at around 4 or 5 people. These courses focus on getting you comfortable & confident doing all of the manoeuvres, skills and exercises that form part of the boat licence course content laid down by NSW Maritime.

Type 2: “Demonstrating” Courses:
On these courses, the trainer demonstrates how to do the skills, exercises and manoeuvres and each student will get a few chances to take the wheel. Students don’t get to try, or practice, all activities themselves.

Type 3: “Describing” Courses:
On these courses the trainer spends most of the time describing what happens. A few demonstrations are made and the student may get to try a couple of things hands on.

Type X: The “BEWARE” Courses:
These courses only provide theory training and the theory test. They don’t provide the practical part of the required training. There are many good theory-only courses out there but these guys hide the lack of practical training or downplay the difficulty of doing it with a log book. To cap it all they charge more than the full course with us at MyHarbour! Beware…..

Next Steps
Now that you understand the course types, you will need to pick a course that suits your needs and learning style. Do you prefer to sit in a classroom and watch slides flipping over? Or are you happier learning some of the theory online (when you have the time) and some on the boat? Decide if you want to learn how to drive a boat or just watch someone else do it.

Ask yourself:

  • Is doing a course right for you, or would a separate theory, test and logbook be better?
  • Is classroom or blended “online & on-boat” theory better for you?
  • Do you want a “doing” practical course or do you prefer to just watch demonstrations?
  • Do you want to learn in a small group with personalised instruction on a boat?

To find the best course for you, ask your potential course providers the following:

  • How many people are on your courses – do you cap them at this number?
  • Do you offer classroom or online/on-boat theory?
  • Are the practical skills only described or just demonstrated on your course or do I get to try them all?
  • Does every student get to do every exercise on the boat or are there limits?
  • Do you offer a guarantee & can I talk to my instructor before I book?
  • Do I get access to free training sessions after my licence course where I can learn new skills and practice what I learned on the course?

MyHarbour offers an online theory course which continues as we take the boat out on the water. You get to drive the boat and try everything yourself. We handle the testing on board so there is no more testing after the course and, if you struggle, you can come back and retake the course absolutely free.


Our Guarantee: If you don’t pass, you can resit the course at no charge.


Once you finish the course you take your certificate and some ID to a Service NSW office and they issue your licence – no more testing!

It doesn’t end there – we offer free sessions to our customers to let your practice your skills and learn new skills.

However you choose to get out on the water, take your first step now as incredible experiences await you.

Sydney Harbour is a fantastic environment to explore. Don’t miss out on this amazing gem!

Contact us by email (training@myharbour.com.au) or by phone for a chat on 0448 146 880 if you’d like to learn more about getting your NSW boat licence.



Book online at https://training.myharbour.com.au



Some things our customers say:

Mark B:
“I couldn’t recommend MyHarbour highly enough. They are extremely patient and great teachers. They give you the confidence to get out there on the water and make the most out of your time on the water”

Michael M:
“Great course from MyHarbour, who also happen to be very nice guys. Boat in excellent shape. Beautiful day on the ocean and the harbour. Highly recommended.”

Jason K:
“Great course and top quality reliable boats. MyHarbour were awesome to deal with and made the day so much easier with their “can do” and “will do” attitude”

Julie B:
“Great time on the water with MyHarbour – I arrived knowing nothing and left feeling confident I know the rules, the regulations and most importantly, how to safely drive, dock and anchor the boat”

Kylie C:
“Do your course with MyHarbour – if you want to really learn how to drive a boat on a beautiful bit of water with a calm and relaxed tutor.”



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