Frequently asked questions

Licensing services are currently impacted. See: Response to boating queries about COVID-19

Here are some of the most common questions we receive about marine licensing and safety, with quick links to the best information to answer your query

Licensing and registration

Do I need a marine licence if I already have commercial qualifications?
There are certain licence exemptions.

Do I need licence and registration for my powered kayak?
Paddlers of certain low-powered kayaks and canoes are permanently exempt from licensing and registration rules in Victoria from 1 July 2020. Read more: Exemption for low-powered kayaks and canoes now permanent

Can someone unlicensed operate my boat or jet ski?
An unlicensed person can only operate a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) under supervised operation. This means that the Master (who is responsible for supervision) should have a valid marine licence/ PWC endorsement, is over the age of 18 and is in a position to take immediate control of the vessel. Read more about PWC safety.

Are interstate marine licences valid in Victoria?
A person who holds an interstate marine licence, restricted marine licence, or personal watercraft (PWC) endorsed marine licence may operate the equivalent vessel in Victoria for a period of three months. Read more about marine licences

Are Victorian marine licences valid interstate?
Victorian licences are broadly accepted. Victorians who travel interstate should check the licensing and PWC endorsement rules of where they plan to operate, and comply with local waterway rules. The links below will take you to the maritime safety authority in each state and territory.

Can MSV update or renew my licence and registration?
No. Please refer to the ‘Licensing and registration’ section of the Maritime contact page.

Does registration include insurance?
Vessel registration in Victoria does not include any insurance cover. We recommend boat owners and operators consider taking out cover with an insurance provider.


What lifejacket do I need?
There are a variety of lifejackets depending on your activity. Try our online lifejacket selector at Wear A Lifejacket

How do I maintain an inflatable lifejacket?
View our lifejacket maintenance guide

Are infant lifejackets safe?
We do not recommend taking babies or infants on a recreational boat. Because of the varying weight distribution of babies, it is difficult to design lifejackets which have flotation in the right places to keep babies afloat. The lifejackets currently available for newborns (up to 10kg) may not provide a proper fit or perform as expected.

Can my child wear an inflatable lifejacket?
Inflatable lifejackets are generally not designed for children due to the fit and activation of them. If you do find an inflatable lifejacket designed for children ensure that your child is within the specified weight rating, that the chest measurements fit them, and that it has a crotch strap so they don’t fall out of the lifejacket if they enter the water.

Do I need to wear a lifejacket while kayaking?
Yes, it can be a Type 1, 2 or 3 lifejacket, however we do recommend a Type 2 lifejacket. The Type 2 lifejacket is fluorescent and increases an individual’s visibility on, and in the water. Kayakers must also carry some form of bailer with their kayak – manual bilge pump, bailer or sponge.


What safety equipment do I need on my boat?
The safety equipment required on your boat depends on the size and type of boat and what waterway you operate on. View our safety equipment information.

Do I need a distress beacon?
All recreational vessels heading out more than two nautical miles from the coast are required to carry an approved 406 Mhz emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). However, it is recommended that all vessels regardless of where they operate carry one. Read more about EPIRBs

How do I safely dispose of flares and distress beacons?
Contact your local police station to see if they will accept your expired flares.
Distress beacons must be disabled before disposal. Check the EPIRB or personal locater beacon (PLB) manufacturer's instructions for disablement and see if your local battery store or waste/recycling facility can take the battery.


Who do I call if my boat breaks down?
If your vessel is in grave and immediate danger call triple zero (000) immediately. If you are not in immediate danger, call the Water Police – the number is on the back of your marine licence.

What do I do if I see unsafe activity on the water?
Always call triple zero (000) if you are involved in or witness an emergency.
If you witness dangerous behaviour, please contact Water Police on (03) 9399 7500 and provide details of what you are observing.
If you wish to discuss any other matter relating to maritime safety, call MSV on 1800 223 022 or email us at


With regard to a vessel's loading capacity, are children counted?
In calculating the number of people on board a vessel a child up to and including one year of age is not counted. Each child over one year and under 12 years is counted as 0.5 a person. Read more about safe loading

I am buying a second-hand boat privately. Can I check if the person selling is the rightful owner, and there is no finance on it?
No. The registration process does not provide evidence of ownership. Nor does the register record any details about finance or insurance.


How do I find out particular waterway rules?
Visit or download the Boating Vic app for an interactive map of waterway rules. You can find more details on our waterway rules page.

What are the fines for certain offences?
Refer to the Department of Transport fines information page.

Can I contest a fine?
Refer to the Fines Victoria website.

Learn the lingo

Review our glossary of boating terms

Can't find the information you need?

Contact details of MSV teams and other agencies are available on our Contact us page.