Register a motorboat
All vessels with an engine must be registered to travel in South Australian waters. This includes sailing and row boats fitted with an auxiliary engine and vessels fitted with an electric motor.
An exemption from the registration requirements may be granted by the Chief Executive, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure for kayaks and canoes fitted with an electric motor of not more than 150 newtons. For more information refer to kayaks and canoes fitted with an electric motor.
Since October 2014 - boats up to 7 metres long, including personal watercraft, can be registered for either 6 or 12 months. Boats more than 7 metres long can only be registered 12 months.
Vessels without an engine cannot be registered.
How to ensure your boat complies with the law
- When you buy a motorboat, you must register it in your name within 14 days.
- Registration numbers must be displayed correctly.
- The registration label must be affixed correctly.
- Most recreational boats are also required to have an Australian Builders Plate fitted by the manufacturer.
- Boat Code is compulsory for all recreational boats that are registered for the first time or when they change ownership.
- Navigation lights must be fitted if you operate your boat at night. If you have lights fitted, they must meet the legal requirements whether you use them or not.
You should receive a renewal notice in the mail about six weeks before your boat registration is due to expire. You can renew your registration online, by phone, in person or by mail.
If you have not received a renewal notice, you can still renew your registration as long as you know the boat registration number and hull type, as shown on the certificate of boat registration.
You need to pay a renewal fee. No concessions are available.
A new registration label will be posted to you - usually within 10 working days. You can continue to use your boat for up to 21 days while you are waiting for your new registration label.
Ways to renew boat registration
You can renew your registration online if you are the registered owner of the boat.
You'll need the 7-digit payment number printed on the renewal notice. If you don't have a renewal notice, enter the boat registration number and hull type, as shown on the certificate of boat registration, and your surname.
Phone 13 10 84 between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm Monday to Friday if you need help.
Phone 1300 363 805 between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.
The operator will ask you for the boat registration number, name of the registered owner and some boat details. This information is shown on the certificate of boat registration and on the renewal notice.
Go to a Service SA customer service centre with a completed application for registration renewal of a motor boat and your payment, which can be made by cash, debit card, MasterCard, Visa, money order or a travelers cheque in Australian currency. You can also pay by cheque made payable to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Send the completed application for registration renewal of a motor boat to the address printed on the front of the renewal notice or to the nearest Service SA customer service centre with your payment. You may pay by cash, debit card, MasterCard, Visa, money order, a traveller's cheque in Australian currency, or by cheque made payable to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Using a boat without a registration label
It is an offence to operate a recreational vessel without a current registration label, unless all these apply:
- the required fee for the registration has been paid
- you have not yet received the label
- no more than 21 days have passed since the fee was paid.
If your label doesn't arrive within 21 days, telephone 13 10 84 or go to a Service SA customer service centre and check that your address has been recorded correctly. If your address is correct, a replacement will be mailed to you free of charge.
How to register your boat
Follow the steps below to register a motorboat for the first time or as its new owner. If you need to renew a boat registration, go to Renew boat registration.
1. Measure the length of your boat
You'll need to know the length of your boat for your application
Measure the hull from the point of the bow to the transom, excluding bowsprits, outboard motors and other appendages. Any part of the vessel that contributes to the buoyancy of the vessel should be included in the vessel length - eg pontoons on inflatable vessels or houseboats.
Download the fact sheet determining your vessel's length for more information.
2. Estimate the registration fee and facilities levy
The length of your boat or vessel determines the registration fee and facilities levy that you need to pay.
If your motorboat was not previously registered for recreational use in South Australia or you are changing registration ownership go to new motorboat registration fees.
If you are renewing registration for a motorboat previously registered for recreational use in South Australia go to renewal fees for motorboat registration.
These fees and levies fund marine safety initiatives and infrastructure.
3. Prepare proof of ownership
The following proof of vessel ownership is acceptable:
- a completed application for transfer of registration on the current South Australian certificate of registration, signed by the current and the new registered owner
- a bill of sale, receipt or purchase contract signed by and showing the names of the current and new owners and including a description of the vessel and its registration number (if applicable)
- an interstate Australian register of ships certificate of recreational registration, in the name of the proposed new owner
- a certificate of commercial vessel registration in any Australian State, in the name of the proposed new registered owner
- a statutory declaration of ownership of the recreational vessel, signed and witnessed by a Justice of Peace (only acceptable if none of the other proof of ownership documents are available).
4. Prepare evidence of identity
See our Evidence of identity page.
5. Complete the application form
- Application for initial registration - to register a motorboat not previously registered for recreational use in South Australia.
- Application for new owner re-registration - to change registration ownership and renew registration for a motorboat previously registered for recreational use in South Australia.
Return the completed form to a Service SA customer service centre, with the following:
- registration fee and facilities levy for the period required
- proof of vessel ownership
- evidence of identity.
If your boat has already been Boat Coded and one of these applies:
- the Hull Identification Number (HIN) and certificate number are already recorded in South Australia
- you can produce the Boat Code certificate
you'll be issued with a registration label and certificate at the Service SA customer service centre. See steps six and eight for information regarding displaying your registration number and label.
If your vessel has a HIN but the certificate number has not been recorded in South Australia and you cannot provide the Boat Code certificate, you'll need to have the HIN validated by a Boat Code agent.
If your vessel needs to be Boat Coded (or your HIN needs to be validated), you'll receive a temporary registration certificate which is valid for 21 days. This allows you to use your boat while you arrange to have HIN plates fitted. Once your temporary registration certificate has expired, you cannot use your boat until you have affixed the registration label, so it is advisable to have your vessel Boat Coded as soon as possible.
6. Display your registration number on your boat
The registration number must be:
- painted on or displayed using stick-on numbers (available from most boat dealerships)
- in a contrasting colour to the surface, in figures at least 10 cm high for boats less than three metres long, or at least 15 cm high for boats three metres or longer
- displayed on both sides of the bow
- clearly readable from a distance of 50 metres (in clear weather) while the vessel is underway
- numbers must be displayed in sequence so that they can be read from left to right as recorded on the registration certificate.
It can be difficult to display registration numbers clearly on boats with excessively flared bows. In this case, you can apply to display the numbers further back along the hull or on each side of the cabin.
Boating Safety Unit
1 Wright Road
Walkley Heights SA 5098
or email dpti.RecreationalBoatingUnit@sa.gov.au and include a photo of your vessel.
7. Fit hull identification number (HIN) plates
Make an appointment with a Boat Code agent to fit HIN plates to your boat. Most agents will ask you to bring the boat to them. If your vessel is moored, you can organise for a mobile agent to meet you at your vessel. Fees for Boat Coding are set by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, but travel costs may be negotiated with the Boat Code agent.
You'll need to take the following to the appointment:
- a completed application for Boat Code
- your temporary registration certificate.
The Boat Code agent will give you a copy of a temporary Boat Code certificate and forward a copy to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Go to Boat Code identification system for more information.
8. Registration documents
The following registration documents will arrive in the mail:
- a full boat registration certificate
- a boat registration label
- a permanent Boat Code certificate.
The registration label should be securely affixed to the boat next to the steering position and clearly visible to anyone inspecting the boat from aboard.
Houseboat and traditional riverboat registration
The registration fee for River Murray houseboats and traditional riverboats is based on vessel length using the same formula applied to motorboats.
Visitors to South Australia
If you're visiting from interstate and your vessel is registered in another state or territory, your interstate registration will be recognised for a period of 90 days, after which you'll need to apply for South Australian registration.
Listing on the Australian Register of Ships does not satisfy the registration requirement (this registration is for vessels travelling overseas).
You can apply to cancel your registration if:
- you will not be using your vessel in South Australian waters for a long period of time
- you are selling the vessel
- you are moving interstate
- you are carrying out major repairs or a refit
- your vessel has been lost, stolen or destroyed.
A refund for any unexpired registration will be posted to the registered owner. A cancellation fee is deducted from the refund and no portion of the marine facilities levy is refunded.
Registration can only be cancelled by the current registered owner, so if you are selling your boat, you will need to cancel the registration while it is still registered in your name.
How to cancel boat registration
Complete an application for cancellation of motor boat registration and return it to a Service SA customer service centre with the registration label. If your vessel has been lost, stolen or destroyed and you cannot return the registration label, you must state this on the application form.
Club numbers are registration numbers issued to members of boating clubs and government departments. Club numbers are allocated by the club secretary or in the case of a government department, by an authorised officer. The registration number is approved by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
How to apply
Follow these steps to change the number on your vessel to a club number.
1. Application form
Complete sections 1, 2 and 4 of the application for a change of registration number and take it to the secretary of the club to approve.
Selling a vessel with a club registration number
If you are selling a vessel, but would like to retain the number to use on another vessel, you can apply for a change of registration number while you are still the registered owner at a Service SA customer service centre.
Boating Safety Unit, telephone: 8343 2774
For more information, or to receive any documents on this page in an alternative format to PDF - phone 13 10 84 or go to a Service SA customer service centre.