Boat & PWC: Licences & Training

So you want to skipper a boat or a personal watercraft (aka jetski)? Here's a guide to what you need to do.

NSW boat licences

To achieve your NSW Recreational Boat licence, you must complete an NSW Martime theory exam and a practical component. This licence allows you to drive a powered boat at 10 knots or over in NSW waters. You are able to drive a boat without a licence IF you stay under 10 Knots. This is why House Boats do not have a lot of power and anybody can hire one.

A personal watercraft (PWC) licence is an upgrade to your boat licence, via a written test. You need a personal watercraft (PWC) driving licence to drive a PWC at any speed.

A PWC is a vessel with a fully enclosed hull that may be driven standing up, lying down, sitting astride or kneeling, and includes jet powered surfboards and jetskis.

The exam

The exam is in two parts, requiring at least 80% correct for part 1 and at least 100% correct for part two. You need to know boating rules well and be able to apply them in different situations.

The practical component


  • complete a practical boat course conducted by an authorised training provider; or
  • complete a logbook (available from the NSW Maritime website).
  • Option 1: train with IceWater Marine Training

    boat theory course: the testOur motto is 'Safety through Learning'. We don't only aim for you to pass the exam; we want you to understand boat regulations thoroughly.

    • An intensive training course (usually 5 hours over a weekend) followed immediately by the RMS exam. You pay only ONCE, no matter how many times it takes you to pass.
    • Pay one fee for both the theory and practical elements.
    • Do the theory training, pass the test and do the practical straight away in the afternoon.
    • Proceed to a NSW Service Centre the next business day with your completed Application for Boat Driving Licence form, pay the licence fee and obtain your licence. One, three, five or ten year licences are available.

    PLUS: you can also add on the Personal Water Craft course and exam straight after the boat training. There is NO additional PWC practical needed.

    Pros: Trained by a professional trainer with a vast experience in all things to do with boats. A fast and simple process.

    Cons: NONE!

  • Option 2: the hard way!

    Exam: study hard and interpret the rules and regulations using the RMS General Boating Handbook.

    Pros: Cheap (if you pass the first time), learn at your own pace.

    Cons: Learning this way can be difficult, especially with interpreting the rules. Need to schedule your own exam time with RMS. If you fail the exam, you need to pay for each re-sit.

    Practical: Obtain a practical boating logbook. Complete 3 trips with someone who has had their boat licence for more than 3 years. Have them sign off on each element.

    Pros: Cheap (maybe). All 3 trips can be undertaken in one day.

    Cons: Need to rely on a mate, if she/he has room for you and will sign their name signifying your competence. Time sensitive: you have 12 months to obtain this experience after your exam. You are relying on someone who only has a recreational boat licence, to teach you the best way.

About our courses


IceWater Marine Training offers courses in a range of locations across South East NSW and ACT.

We are expanding to new places. If you'd like a course closer to you, gather a few likeminded mates and find a venue. Then contact Mick by email or phone 0414 506 508. (A travel fee may apply.)


We offer NSW recreational boat licence training (test included), refreshers and practical boat training:

  1. general boat licence theory with test
  2. Personal Water Craft (PWC) upgrade to the boat licence - on the same day as your boat training, or it can be done as a separate course
  3. supervised on-boat practical experience on our training vessel on the same day as your course. Practical component is only available for limited numbers at each course. Places are on a first come, first served basis, so book early.

We also provide commercial boat training (Exemption 38) which is required for marine jobs. Contact us for more details.

Courses have a maximum of 20 participants per class. Groups from schools, corporations and clubs are welcome. Private lessons are also available.

Trainer Mick has a NSW Working With Children Check.

It's important that you have good English reading comprehension and understand spoken English (Aussie English!) reasonably well. If you have any learning difficulties, please contact us before the course to discuss your needs.

IceWater Marine Training is a Covid-19 Safe business. All our training venues follow a Covid-safe plan. Numbers on board our training vessel for the practical component, comply with Covid-19 regulations.

How much?

Young adult (YA) is 12-15 years old.

Boat theory - $165, YA $145

Boat theory + practical (boat licence in one day) - $345, YA $325

Boat theory + PWC + practical (boat + PWC licence in one day) - $405, YA $385

PWC theory (standalone course) - $140, YA $120

Boat theory + PWC - $260, YA $240

A small additional travel fee per student may apply dependent on distances. 

What's needed?

Bring to your course -

  1. 100 points of ID as per NSW Martime requirements
  2. A completed covid safe form
  3. A blue or black pen
  4. A Waiver form for the practical if needed.

Lunch is not provided, but many venues have this option. Your instructor will not stop for a lunch break; however the venues allow you to eat whilst training. You will be given frequent breaks and one of these will allow you to order your lunch if you haven't brought it with you.

All participants need to be at least 12 years old. Young people need to be signed in by their guardian and guardians will need 100 points of identification also.

It's also important that you have good English reading comprehension and understand spoken English well (Aussie English!).

If you have learning difficulties: please contact us to discuss your needs before the course.

Just bought a boat?

Bring your new boat along to your course. Mick will be happy to show you its finer points and give you some tips.

You'll need to do the practical component in our registered training vessel, not in your own boat. That's a NSW Maritime requirement.

Or thinking of buying?

If you've completed an IceWater Marine course, you are welcome to ask us for advice when buying your boat.

There's no charge - we're here to help.

IceWater Marine Training is approved by NSW Maritime to provide practical Boat Training and/or Knowledge testing for the general boat licence and PWC driving licence.