Centre for Maritime Safety

Connect

Email Facebook
Print the page

Lifejacket law

The rules governing the use of lifejackets on recreational vessels on all NSW navigable waters were strengthened from 1 November 2010.

Requirements for carrying and wearing lifejackets vary depending on the type of vessel being used. All recreational vessels must carry an appropriate lifejacket for each person on board. Lifejackets must be the correct size for the wearer and must be in good condition.

Requirements for wearing lifejackets are set in the Marine Safety Regulation 2016.

The most common situations when a lifejacket must be worn on a recreational or hire and drive vessel are:

  • on vessels under 4.8m at night, in open or alpine waters, and when boating alone
  • by children under 12 years of age at all times in a vessel under 4.8m, and in an open area of a vessel 4.8m to 8m while underway
  • on any vessel crossing a coastal bar
  • on canoes and kayaks on all waters
  • on sailboards and kiteboarding (when more than 400 metres from shore on open waters, when crossing a coastal bar or at night)
  • by anyone being towed, such as waterskiing and wake boarding
  • on personal watercraft, including tow-in surfer
  • When directed by a master of a vessel.

Penalties apply for not carrying the required number of lifejackets and for not wearing a lifejacket when required.

For more information on the lifejacket laws, see our FAQs.

A guide to wear

The law requires lifejackets to be worn in circumstances of heightened risk.

View details of lifejacket law

Lifejacket standards

Your lifejacket must comply with:

  • Australian Standard for Personal Flotation Devices AS 4758 or
  • International Standard ISO 12402 or
  • one of the approved standards for types of lifejacket listed below.

Lifejacket level 100+ (formerly known as Type 1)

  • Australian Standard AS 1512—1996, Personal flotation devices—Type 1 or any previous version of that Standard, or
  • one of the following recognised standards for personal flotation devices, or types of personal flotation devices, that has been approved by a recognised appraiser:
    • European Standard EN 399-1993 Lifejackets – 275N,
    • European Standard EN 396-1993 Lifejackets – 150N,
    • European Standard EN 395-1993 Lifejackets – 100N,
    • Canadian General Standards CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88 (for adults) and CAN/CGSB-65.15-M88Personal Flotation Devices for children,
    • Underwriters Laboratories Standards UL 1180 – Fully inflatable recreational personal flotation devices,
    • New Zealand Standards NZ5823:2001 Type 401, or
  • any standard or specifications approved by RMS.
  • A recognised appraiser means:
    • a certifying body accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS–ANZ), or
    • a laboratory with National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation, or
    • a notified body in accordance with the European Union Maritime Equipment Directive, Module B (MED–B), or
    • a body approved by RMS.

Lifejacket level 50 (formerly known as Type 2)

  • Australian Standard AS 1499—1996, Personal flotation devices—Type 2 or any previous version of that Standard, or
  • European Standard EN 393-1993Lifejackets – 50N, or
  • any standard or specifications approved by RMS.

Lifejacket level 50S (formerly known as Type 3)

  • Australian Standard AS 2260—1996, Personal flotation devices—Type 3 or any previous version of that Standard, or
  • European Standard EN 393-1993 Lifejackets – 50N, or
  • any standard or specifications approved by RMS.

For more information on the lifejacket standards, see our FAQs.