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Register a recreational boat

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All recreational boats—including personal watercraft (PWC)—with an engine of 3 kilowatts or more must be registered when they are on the water in Queensland.

If your boat is not used entirely for private recreation, you will need to get commercial registration.

Special rules apply for tenders to recreational boats and boats with interstate or overseas registration.

How to register your boat or PWC

Register your boat at a transport and motoring customer service centre or, if you live in a rural area, you can visit a QGAP office, Magistrates Court or local police station that provides registration services.

To register your boat, you must have the following:

You may also need these extra documents:

Registration numbers and labels

Once registered, you will get registration numbers allocated to your boat and a registration label.

You must display registration numbers so they can be read from 30m away and in a contrasting colour to the hull of the boat. The size of the registration numbers depends on the type of boat:

  • Ships capable of planing—at least 150mm high on both sides.
  • Ships not capable of planing—at least 75mm high on both sides or the stern.
  • PWCs— must be at least l00mm high and on both sides.

The registration label must be displayed:

  • on the outside of the boat
  • above the waterline
  • near the registration numbers.

If the registration numbers are displayed on the side of the boat or PWC the registration label should be displayed on the left (port) side.

Renew your registration

You will receive a renewal notice about 5 weeks before your registration expires. Make sure you renew your registration before the due date or you cannot operate the boat or PWC.

After we receive your payment, we will send you a new registration label and certificate in the mail. It may take at least 10 working days to receive your label and certificate—depending on how you paid and if you live in a remote area.

Once you have received your new registration label in the mail, remove your expired label and attach your new registration label to your boat.

If you do not remove your expired label, you can be fined. Remove the old label as soon as the new label is attached—or within 21 days of the date that your registration would have expired. If you pay your registration after the due date, attach your new label within 21 days of the date that you paid. If you do not attach your new registration label, you can be fined.

When registration has expired

Your registration expires if you don’t pay the registration fee by the expiry date.

If your registration has expired, your boat or PWC is unregistered—and possibly uninsured—until the fee is paid. If you operate an unregistered boat you can be fined.

You have 3 months to renew your registration after the expiry date. After this date, you will need to apply for a new registration.

Change or transfer your registration details

You can change your boat registration details at a transport and motoring customer service centre or, if you live in a rural area, you can visit a QGAP office, Magistrates Court or local police station that provides registration services. Take with you a completed change of recreational ship particulars notification form (F3527).

If you have sold your boat, you may be eligible to transfer the registration online as the seller.

If you have bought a recreational boat, you need to change the ownership details into your name within 14 days of the purchase. Take with you:

Alternatively you may be eligible to transfer the registration online as the buyer. Note: The seller needs to complete their part of transfer online or in person before you can transfer the registration into your name online.

Tender registration

If your boat or PWC is a tender to a registered recreational ship, it is exempt from registration if:

  • it is only used within 2 nautical miles of the parent ship
  • it 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’s registration numbers, in characters 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 about safety equipment and registration requirements for recreational tenders (PDF, 109 KB).

Interstate and overseas registration

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

  • for 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 or territory.
If you move to Queensland from another state or territory, or your interstate or foreign registration expires, you must get Queensland registration.


Know your capacity

Make sure you don’t overload your boat or personal watercraft (PWC).

All registrable boats (except sailing ships) must have a capacity label or Australian Builders Plate attached near all of the boat’s steering positions so it’s visible to the operator at all times.

Ride Smart labels for PWC

Ride Smart labels are a good reminder of the rules you must follow when you use a PWC.

You must attach a Ride Smart label, along with a capacity label, near the steering position so you can see it while you’re operating your PWC.

Know your safety responsibilities

When you operate a boat on Queensland waters you must make sure the boat is safe, has the correct safety equipment, appropriate crew and is operated safely—this is your general safety obligation.

Make sure you carry the right safety equipment—and you know how to use it.

Last updated
1 August 2016

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