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Lifejacket law

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 and the table below provides useful summary:

Lifejacket wear requirements on NSW waters

What lifejacket am I required to wear on my recreational vessel?

Boating activity and/or vessel type

Lifejacket requirements for enclosed waters

Lifejacket requirements for open waters

Children under 12 years of age

Level 50S or greater:

  • At all times on a vessel less than 4.8m
  • When in an open area of a vessel less than 8m that is underway.

Level 100 or greater:

  • At all times on a vessel less than 4.8m
  • When in an open area of a vessel less than 8m that is underway.

On all boats less than 4.8m (unless specified)

Level 50S or greater at all times when:

  • Boating between sunset and sunrise
  • Boating on alpine waters
  • Boating alone (without another person 12 years of age or more on the same vessel).

Level 100 or greater at all times.

Personal watercraft (PWC) including tow-in surfer

Level 50S or greater at all times.

Level 50S or greater at all times.

Crossing coastal bars

N/A

At all times as per open waters requirement for boating activity/vessel type.

Anyone being towed, eg water-skiing wakeboarding (whether or not the person is using a rope)

Level 50S or greater at all times.

Level 50S or greater at all times.

Canoes and kayaks

Level 50S or greater at all times when:

  • Boating between sunset and sunrise
  • Boating on alpine waters
  • Boating alone (without another person 12 years of age or more on the same vessel).

Level 50S or greater at all times.

Sailboarding and kiteboarding (when more than 400m from shore)

Off the beach sailing vessel

When directed by the master of the vessel

As per applicable vessel/ situation – see above.

As per applicable vessel/ situation – see above.

* The above table is a summary only. For full details, see Marine Safety Regulations.

* 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.

Lifejacket standards

Your lifejacket must comply with:

  • Australian Standard for lifejackets 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)

  • One of the following recognised standards for lifejackets, or types of lifejackets, that has been approved by a recognised appraiser:
    • European Standard EN ISO 12402-2,3,4
    • Underwriters Laboratories Standards UL 1180 – Fully inflatable recreational personal flotation devices,
    • New Zealand Standards NZS 5823:2005, or
  • Any standard or specifications approved by RMS.

Lifejacket level 50 (formerly known as Type 2)

  • European Standard EN ISO 12402-5, or
  • Any standard or specifications approved by RMS.

Lifejacket level 50S (formerly known as Type 3)

  • European Standard EN ISO 12402-5, or
  • Any standard or specifications approved by RMS.

Note: 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.

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