Recreational Boating Safety Handbook

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

The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook contains guidance and safety information for all recreational boaters, including sailors, kayakers, canoeists, rowers, wakeboarders, water-skiers, and kitesurfers.

The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook is a valuable reference if you are applying for a marine licence or a personal watercraft endorsement.

The complete handbook is available to download below in PDF or Word format.
It is also available to download by chapter to ease download times.

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

Postal requests

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are currently not able to post hardcopies of the Handbook. To preorder a copy, send your postal address to and your Handbook will be sent once office functions resume.

Regulatory environment

  • Introduction
  • Safety duties

Download 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.