Welcome my fellow Australian! In this guide, I’m going to show you the jet ski licensing and riding conditions on a state-by-state (and territory) basis.
For those short on time and who need to know the facts upfront…
In most states of Australia, jet ski riders must be over the age of 16 to legally ride unsupervised. To ride solo, they will require a boat and PWC licence but are granted an exemption if they hire a jet ski from a registered operator under supervision. Children under the age of 16 may ride a jet ski with their licenced parents sitting behind, or if riding solo, it is ridden on private property.
Previously, the AAOK Lakes Resort on Lake Bennett (private property) in Darwin offered jet ski rental to children but this has ceased in recent years due to liability concerns. Northern Territory itself doesn’t provide marine licences nor a requirement to register a jet ski or boat for private use, so you can ride as young as you would like to.
This is a state-by-state breakdown for jet ski licence requirements in Australia, paying close attention to minimum age. Current information is effective as of November 2021.
New South Wales
According to Service NSW, you’ll be eligible for a PWC licence if you are at least 12 years of age and already hold a general boat licence. There is no separate on-water test for this, but you’ll need to pass the PWC licence knowledge test.
In Victoria, the rules are more conservative. You can get a marine licence if you are at least 12 years of age, however, you’ll need to be 16 to get a PWC endorsement. This is a test featuring 15 multiple-choice questions, with 13 needing to be correct to qualify for passing marks. You can find some practice tests here.
Queensland residents must be at least 16 years of age to apply for both a boat and jet ski licence. You’ll need to do a course with a practical component for both boating and jet ski riding, and then apply for your QLD jet ski licence within 6 months of receiving your statement of competency.
There is no formal jet ski licence in Western Australia, nor is there a marine licence. Instead, it’s called a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket and the course also covers jet ski usage briefly. Better yet, there are no ongoing fees to pay to the government! You’ll need to be at least 14 years of age to ride a jet ski on your own in Western Australia, but only to a maximum of 8 knots and during daylight hours. Once you turn 16, both restrictions immediately cease.
South Australia has very stringent rules for jet ski use. For instance, you can’t use them before 8am any day (it’s 9am for Sundays) and certainly not past 8pm on any day. Riders need to be at least 16 years old and have a boat operator’s licence. There is no separate licence for jet skis in South Australia.
In Tasmania, you’ll need to have a boat licence then apply for a PWC endorsement after completing the PWWC Practical Course. Only two companies provide these – Surf Life Saving Tasmania and BoatBiz. In addition, you’ll need to be at least 12 years old to ride with a parent on the back, or 17 if you would like to ride solo.
Appreciate complete freedom? The Northern Territory does NOT have any boat or jet ski licences or requirements for any age. A 7-year-old kid can take a jet ski out anytime he or she wants without an adult on the back. There is also no need to register any privately owned marine vessel.
Australian Capital Territory
We are currently awaiting feedback from the ACT Government as to minimum age requirements for jet ski use in their state. That said – you can’t use a jet ski on Lake Burley Griffin anyway, and given the land-locked nature of the ACT, we believe that most people would fall under NSW jurisdiction.