The Harbors and Navigation Act 1993 (SA) prescribes that any person who operates a vessel that is fitted with an engine, or any other vessel so prescribed by regulation, must hold either:
- a boat operator's licence [47(3)(a)]; or
- an exemption from the requirement to hold a boat operator's licence [47(3)(b)]; or
- a special permit granted under the regulations [47(3)(c)]; or
- a prescribed certificate of competency [ss 47(3)(d); 47(6)].
See section 47 of the Harbors and Navigation Act 1993 (SA).
Failure to adhere to the above requirements is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $5000 or an expiation fee of $315 [Harbors and Navigation Act 1993 (SA) s 47(3)].
Additionally, recreational vessels must also be registered to be used on any South Australian waterway [Harbors and Navigation Act 1993 (SA) s 55].
A person who holds an interstate boat operator's licence may operate a registered recreational vessel in South Australia for a period of up to 90 days. Beyond that time, they must apply for a South Australian boat operator's licence [Harbors and Navigation Regulations 2009 (SA) reg 80(c)].
Specific rules apply for children aged under 16 years, for the use of kayaks and canoes fitted with electronic motors, and for houseboats or boats for hire. For more information see the Service SA website on boat licences.
To apply for a boat licence, a person must be at least 16 years of age, must disclose any medical conditions, and must pass a written exam. Exams are conducted by Service SA. For more information on applying for a boat licence, see the Service SA South Australian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook.
There are a number of offences that apply if a vessel is unsafe, is operated without due care or in a dangerous manner, or is operated by someone so under the influence of drugs and alcohol as to be capable of exercising effective control of the vessel.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.