Boating rules in WA

Find out about the rules and regulations that apply to recreational boaters in Western Australia.

  Your responsibilities and duty of care

To ensure the safety of all boaters, recreational skippers must be familiar with the rules and regulations that apply within Western Australian waters.

This section provides a general guide to boating regulations in Western Australia. The information is also provided in the boating rules at a glance brochure below.

Duty of care is an important part of a skipper's job. This means that you:

  • Are responsible for the safety of your vessel, crew and passengers.
  • Must not endanger any other vessel.
  • Must be ready to assist others who need help.

To find out more refer to You're the skipper.

  Age requirements and recreational skippers ticket


Children under the age of 10 cannot operate any vessel, even under supervision.

The person in charge of a recreational vessel with a motor of 6hp (4.5 kilowatts) or less is not required to hold a Recreational Skippers Ticket.

A person in charge of a recreational vessel with a motor greater than 6hp (4.5 kilowatts) is required to hold a Recreational Skippers Ticket.  However, the following age restrictions apply:

  • The minimum age to apply for an RST is 14 years old.
  • A person over 14 but under 16 years of age are restricted to operating during daylight hours at a speed less than 8 knots.
  • You are required to carry your RST card when boating.

For more information refer to Recreational Skippers Ticket (RST).

  Boat registration

Most boats must be registered with the Department of Transport and are subject to an annual registration fee. 

Refer to boat and trailer registration for information about:

  • Vessels that require registration.
  • Transfer of ownership.
  • Tender vessels.
  • Placement of registration numbers and stickers.
  • Interstate vessels.

  Safety equipment

Vessels are required to carry certain items of safety equipment. The quantity and type of equipment varies depending on how far offshore you travel.

All safety equipment must be maintained in very good condition and be accessible at all times.

Make sure you understand the minimum requirements. To find out more refer to the What safety equipment do I need? page.

  Collision rules (rules of the road)

Every skipper should have a thorough understanding of the collision rules. Refer to collision rules (rules of the road) for information on approaching head on, power driven vessels crossing, and overtaking.

  Mooring and restricted/prohibited areas

All marine safety signs must be strictly obeyed. These include those that indicate special-use areas such as mooring areas, water ski areas, and prohibited or restricted areas.

Water ski areas will also have signs with important information such as special rules for that area, hours of operation, direction of the ski circuit, etc. These can usually be found near the boat launching ramps.


There must be only one vessel at a time on a mooring, and it must be no larger than the mooring was designed and approved for.

In designated Mooring Control Areas, you must seek approval before mooring your vessel and meet the required standards.

For more information refer to moorings.

Restricted areas

Are you aware of the restricted areas? Download the brochure below for information regarding restricted areas along our coastline.

  Obstruction of navigation aids, channels and leads

You must not interfere with, remove of damage any beacon, buoy or other aid to navigation.

Navigational aids, channels and waterways must be kept clear for all vessels at all times.

This means that you must not:

  • Place buoyed objects; such as crab nets, fishing nets or markers in any channel, fairway or passage.
  • Anchor or moor a vessel in these areas, unless you are in distress.
  • Secure a vessel to a beacon or other navigation aid.

To find out more about navigation aids, please refer to the navigation markers and buoys page.

  Limits for small vessels (less than 3.75 metres)

A person in charge of a vessel less than 3.75 metres in length (including personal watercraft) may not go further than five (5) nautical miles from land.

However you can operate the vessel within 1 nautical mile of an island located more than five nautical miles from the mainland shore.

  Emergencies and incidents

Accident and incident reporting

Certain marine incidents must be reported to the Department within 7 days. These include any collisions that result in:

  • Serious injury or death of any person.
  • A vessel becoming unseaworthy or unsafe.

For more information go to boating emergencies and incidents for more information.

Assisting people in distress

All boaters have a legal obligation to assist others in distress unless:

  • They are unable to, for example: they are too far away.
  • Assistance is not required, for example: if Sea Rescue has taken over.
  • Doing so will endanger their own vessel, crew or passengers.


You must not travel at such a speed or in such a manner as to cause nuisance or damage to any person or to any other vessel whether moored or not or to cause damage or erosion to any bank or property.


Sewage from vessels are a major source of marine pollution. As a result the Department has established regulations regarding zones where sewage can be discharged.

Please go to pollution and sewage regulations to find out more.

  Surfskis and inflatables used for hire

Surfskis (including 'sit on tops' and inflatables (including those used for white water rafting) are subject to state legislation. As well as meeting certain standard requirements, hire operators of these craft are required to have a safety management system in place.

Please see the following information sheets for information on what is required for these vessels when used in hire operations.

Image of boat going through groyne

Page last updated: Wed Apr 28 2021 3:53:49 PM