Ferry licences

Find out whatís required and how to apply for a ferry licence in Western Australia.

  About ferry licences

The Transport Co-ordination Act (1966) (WA) defines a ferry as a vessel, including a hovercraft, used or intended to be used to carry passengers for hire or reward, and includes any such vessel so used, or intended to be used, by or on behalf of the Crown, or an agency of the Crown.

The following vessels are not required to be licensed as a ferry:

  • any vessel with a maximum carrying capacity not exceeding 30 passengers (excluding crew)
  • a vessel operating charter trips, where the vessel is hired for a fixed fee on a time-or-distance basis as distinct from charging or receiving individual fares;
  • a vessel operating fishing excursions where passengers are carried for the sole purpose of fishing, whether on a charter-trip basis or for the payment of individual fares;
  • a vessel operating diving excursions where passengers are carried for the sole purpose of underwater diving, whether on a charter-trip basis or for the payment of individual fares; and
  • a vessel engaged in emergency operations.

Prior to a licence being issued the following must be provided:

  • the vessel must be surveyed as a passenger vessel;
  • approvals to berth at designated jetties on the proposed route; and
  • approvals to travel to/from designated routes and conditions that apply (e.g. Rottnest Island, Swan and Canning Riverpark and DoT/private boat harbours).

The licence does not alleviate the need to obtain and comply with other licensing, planning or development approvals required under other legislation (e.g. Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006). It is an implied condition of every licence, that the provisions of any law applicable to the ferry and its operation are to be complied with.


It is a requirement to hold the relevant protection and indemnity insurance, including hull/machinery and public liability insurance (incorporating marine liability).

Transport Coordination Act (1966) (WA)

  Applying for a ferry licence

To apply for a ferry licence please submit):

  • Ferry Licence Application Form (available below)
  • Approvals/permits required for the use of jetties/wharf i.e. Rottnest Island Authority, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Port Authorities, DoT, local government etc.
  • Copy of Certificate of Survey from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Applications must provide the following information:

  • Proposed route or area the ferry is to operate
  • Proposed period of operation
  • Name and owner of vessel and survey details
  • Passenger capacity.

A licence for a ferry is granted from 1 October to 30 September of each year. Full fees apply if a licence is granted mid-way through a licence year. 

Ferry operators with a vessel capable of carrying more than 200 passengers are required to make a declaration they have a security plan in place, consistent with the National Security Guidelines for ferry operators.

Ferries operating to Rottnest Island require timetable approval from the Rottnest Island Authority and the vessel must be equipped with a lifting/crane apparatus. 

DoT may withdraw the approved licence in the event the ferry is non-compliant with conditions of the ferry licence.

National Security Guidelines - MSC.1/Circ 1283

  Contact the Property Officer

Service Type Suburb Business Name Phone number Phone number (secondary) Fax Pre-booking required Business Hours Email Street address Postal address Business Type Vehicle type Comments
Marine and Coastal contact Jetty and ferry licencing (Boating and Safety Coastal) 13 11 56 No Monday to Friday 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. (excludes public holidays) maritime.licensing@transport.wa.gov.au P.O. Box C102, Perth WA 6839 Department of Transport
Page last updated: Mon Feb 22 2021 10:19:29 AM