Apply for a boat licence

Follow these steps to get your boat licence.


You must be at least 16 years of age to apply for a boat operator's licence.

Children aged between 12 and 16 may apply for a special permit to operate a recreational vessel.

Before you begin

Evidence of identity

You need to provide documents showing evidence of age and identity in order to apply.

Medical conditions

You must disclose any medical conditions including disability and the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. The eyesight and medical standards for a boat operator's licence are the same as for a motor vehicle driver's licence.

To disclose a medical condition, you must fill out your details and get your doctor or optometrist to complete and sign the medical and eyesight certificate (245.3 KB PDF) to operate a recreational vessel.

How to apply

1. Book a theory exam

Bookings are essential for sitting the exam at a Service SA customer service centre.

Bookings can be made by calling 13 10 84. Payment for the test must be made when booking.

You will need to provide evidence of age and identity and pay the appropriate fee before sitting the exam.

2. Prepare for the theory exam

The theory exam consists of a series of multiple-choice questions based on information in the South Australian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook.

Practice for your boat licence exam online.

3. Take the theory exam

Attend the nominated Service SA customer service centre to sit the theory exam and provide evidence of age and identity.

Successful exam results are valid for six months from the date of issue.

4. Lodge the application form

Complete and lodge the form Application for a boat operator's licence (473.2 KB PDF) at a Service SA Customer Service Centre, along with:

  • evidence of age and identity
  • evidence of one of these:
    • you have passed the theory exam within the last six months
    • you hold an appropriate qualification or current interstate boat licence
  • a completed medical and eyesight certificate for operating a recreational vessel
  • payment of your licence fee.

If you meet all the requirements, the licence will be issued to you on the spot.

Boat licence test exemptions

You don't need to sit a boat licence theory exam if you have any one of the following:

  • an interstate licence to operate a motorboat, which is current or expired less than six months ago or a Western Australian (WA) Recreational Skippers Ticket.
  • a commercial certificate of competency such as a coxswain or master certificate issued by a state or territory authority or the Australian Maritime Safety Authority current or expired less than six months ago
  • undertaken an approved course and received one of the following certificates:

Only the organisations listed above provide a government-approved training program and issue certificates that are accepted in lieu of the theory exam. The government approves the training module content only - no assessment is made of the conduct, fees and charges of training providers.

If you have any doubts about a private boating licence course, contact the provider and find out whether the training program is approved and what kind of certificate will be issued on completion.

Page last updated 1 August 2022

Provided by:
Department for Infrastructure and Transport
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