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Registration for recreational boats

In Queensland all recreational boats, including personal watercraft (PWC), with a motor or auxiliary of 3kW or more (over 4hp) must be registered if they are on the water. If you operate an unregistered boat, you can get a fine.

All recreational boat or PWC registration enquiries are managed through Transport and Main Roads customer service centres or by contacting the call centre on 13 23 80.

How to register your boat

Register your ship at a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre. Bring with you a completed recreational ship registration application form and the documents listed at the top of the form.

Once registered, you will receive a renewal notice in the mail about 5 weeks before the registration expires. If you don't pay your registration within a short period after the due date, your registration will be automatically cancelled. When the registration is cancelled it will not be reinstated and you need to apply for new registration and new registration numbers will be issued.

For information about how to register your boat trailer contact a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre (trailer registration is separate to ship registration).

Interstate and overseas registration

Recreational ships with valid interstate or overseas registration can operate in Queensland:

  • up to 1 year if the boat has current registration from a foreign country
  • while on interstate voyages if the boat has current registration from another state.

If you are just visiting Queensland you still need to comply with marine laws like speed limits and marine zones and so on. Check this website for details on what laws you have to follow when operating in Queensland. If your boat is over 15m in length, make sure you have ship insurance.

If you move to Queensland from another state or territory, or your interstate or foreign registration expires, you must register the boat in Queensland.

Registration fees and third party insurance

Registration fees are calculated on the length of your ship. Exemptions from registration fees are given to totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioners.

In addition, a recreational use fee is collected when paying registration fees on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for a range of functions to enhance recreational fisheries. More information is available from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Third party insurance is not included in the cost of registering your vessel. You should seek independent advice about insurance coverage.

Registration symbols and labels

Your ship will be allocated registration symbols. These must be clearly visible in plain characters in a contrasting colour to the hull of your ship. The size of the characters depends on the type of ship and must be able to be read from a distance of 30m away:

  • ships not capable of planing must have characters a minimum of 75mm high on both sides or on the stern
  • ships capable of planing must have characters a minimum of 200mm high on both sides
  • personal watercraft registration symbols must be:

    • displayed on both sides
    • at least 100mm high
    • easily seen while the craft is underway.

When you register your ship or personal watercraft a registration label will be issued.

  • For a ship the registration label must be placed on the exterior of the ship in a clear place above the waterline on the port (left) side.
  • For a personal watercraft the registration label must be displayed on the port (left) side of the craft adjacent to the registration symbols.

Recreational ships 15m and over

Recreational ships 15m and over present additional risks to marine safety and the marine environment because of their size, their potential to be operated over greater distances and capacity to carry more passengers on board.

If you own a recreational boat that is 15m or over in length, applications for new registration, transfer of ownership or any change of ship details must be endorsed by Maritime Safety Queensland before they can be processed by a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre. Take the application for new or transfer of ownership or change of particulars of recreational ships 15m in length and over form to a Maritime Safety Queensland office to be endorsed before going to a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre.

Read more information about registering ships 15m and over.

For more information about requirements for recreational ships 15m and over contact Maritime Safety Queensland.

Tenders

Tenders to registered recreational ships are exempt from registration if they are only used within 2 nautical miles of the parent ship and the tender is being used to transport people or provisions between the ship and the shore. This does not include fishing or sightseeing activities.

The tender must be marked on the exterior with the word 'tender' and the parent ship registration numbers, at least 75mm high. If this is not possible, markings should be on the inside of the boat in the largest characters possible.

If the tender is used for more than 1 ship, it may be marked with the owner's name.

Read more information about safety equipment and registration requirements for recreational tenders.

Selling a ship

When a registered ship is sold, it is the responsibility of the new owner to lodge an application to transfer the registration within 14 days at a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre. Bring a completed recreational ship registration transfer form and follow the requirements of the 'acquirer' and 'disposer' of the ship outlined at the top of the form.

Note: Registration may be cancelled if the ship is no longer used in Queensland, is withdrawn from service or no longer meets registration requirements.

Changing your ship details

If any of your ship details change, take a change of recreational ship particulars notification form to a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre.

Related information

Capacity labels

All registrable recreational boats, with the exception of sailing ships, must have either a compliant Australian Builders Plate (ABP) or the required capacity labels attached. Capacity labels and ABPs should be placed near the boat's control area/s where they can be seen by the operator at all times.

You can get a fine if you operate without a capacity label or it is located in the wrong position.

When you are preparing for a trip, the skipper is responsible for assessing the load on board—both people and objects. Keep in mind that the label indicates the number of people the boat can safely carry in good conditions and smooth waters. If you're using a boat in partially smooth waters, open waters or in rough conditions, consider reducing the number of people taken on the trip.

Capacity labels can be purchased through a number of suppliers such as marine chandleries. Businesses or individuals interested in producing capacity labels should contact Maritime Safety Queensland for assistance with details of printing specifications.

Ride Smart stickers

All PWCs must also have a Ride Smart sticker visible to the operator at all times (along with a capacity label).

Ride Smart stickers can be purchased through a number of suppliers such as marine chandleries. Businesses or individuals interested in producing capacity labels should contact Maritime Safety Queensland for assistance with details of printing specifications.

Last updated
05 June 2014