The National Capital Authority (NCA) administers the use of power boats on Lake Burley Griffin (the Lake) in accordance to the provision of the Lakes Ordinance 1976. These provisions also cover moorings, anchoring, the restrictions on the use of power boats, lighting rules, rules of the water, and the navigation of a boat in a dangerous or careless manner or while intoxicated.

In addition to these provisions, when using a powered boat on the Lake, you may also need to comply with Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – Domestic Commercial Vessel (DCV) National System. Depending on your vessel you may require additional approval to the boat permit.

The NCA issues boat permits to powered boats used for private recreational use (e.g. fishing boats and RHIB’s). These vessels are allowable but must use auxiliary (electric) motors whilst on the Lake. Petrol motors do not have to be removed from boats but, except in the case of an emergency, they are not permitted to be used on the Lake. There is currently no charge for NCA issued boat permits.

Powered boats require a permit to go onto the Lake. Permits are issued throughout the year and are renewed on an annual basis. Temporary permits are also available for short term use such as for events.

Non-powered craft such as sailing boats and canoes do not require a permit to go onto the Lake.

How to Apply for a Power Boat Permit

  1. Read the FAQ for boats on Lake Burley Griffin.
  2. Complete the application form here.
  3. Email the form, along with supporting documents to boatpermits@nca.gov.au 
  4. Make sure you include a photo of:
  • The boat with identifying features
  • The boat number (HIN or VIN)
  • Your safety equipment (life jackets, bailing bucket, paddle, torch, fire extinguisher and anchor/rope)
  • Your motor/s.

Important note: Should you be granted a permit to operate a vessel on Lake Burley Griffin (the Lake), you must adhere to all the conditions/restrictions that are stipulated on your National Law Certificates and/or Exemption. Your NCA permit may also be subject to additional conditions specific to the Lake.

The ACT Water Police may carry out random inspections on the water for the presence of safety equipment held on boats.

Boat Licences

The NCA requires drivers of powerboats (petrol and electric), used for the following purposes, to be holders of either a current powerboat driver's licence issued in any Australian state or territory, a ‘TL3' certificate issued under the Australian Yachting Federation National Powerboat Training Scheme or a National Powerboat Handling Certificate from Australian Sailing:

  • Category 1 – Conventional powered boats used as rescue, coaching, or judging boats in support of aquatic sports.
  • Category 3 (A) – Boats used for Lake management, scientific research, or other specified non-recreational uses.
  • Category 4 – Commercial tourist use (e.g. ferries).

Drivers of powerboats (petrol and electric) used for the following purposes will be exempt from needing a boat driver's licence (boat permit is still required):

  • Category 2 (A) – Boats for general use (including fishing boats).
  • Category 2 (B) – Trailerable sailing yachts with auxiliary power.
  • Category 3 (B) – Special interest boats (such as ‘traditional boats' with maximum speeds of 10 knots).

Section 26 (Lakes Ordinance 1976) – Boat Permits

  • Category 1 – Conventional powered boats used as rescue, coaching, or judging boats in support of aquatic sports. These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors and require drivers to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 2 (A) – Recreational use powered vessels. These vessels are not permitted to use petrol motors (unless in the case of an emergency) and normally do not require drivers to be licenced with boat licences. Auxiliary (electric) motors must be used whilst on the Lake. Petrol motors do not have to be removed from boats.
  • Category 2 (B) – Trailerable sailing yachts. These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors but only to move out of embayments and in the case of an emergency. Drivers are not required to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 3 (A) – Boats used for Lake management, scientific research, or other specified non-recreational uses. These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors and require drivers to be licenced with boat licences (will be assessed against AMSA Domestic Commercial Vessel requirements)
  • Category 3 (B) – Special interest boats (such as ‘traditional boats' with maximum speeds of 10 knots). These vessels are permitted to use petrol (and alternate motor types) and do not require drivers to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 4 – Commercial tourist use (e.g. ferries). These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors (and alternate motor types) and require drivers to be licenced with commercial driver’s licences as per AMSA Domestic Commercial Vessel requirements.

Section 26 (Lakes Ordinance 1976) requires NCA Delegate approval.

Section 33 (Lakes Ordinance 1976) – Licence Agreement – Commercial Activities on Lake Burley Griffin

A Section 33 Licence Agreement application must be submitted to the NCA if you wish to conduct any of the following activities on, or on the shore of the Lake:

  • Selling, or offering for sale, food, drink or other articles or goods
  • Letting, or offering to let, on hire bicycles, boats, or other articles
  • Carrying, or offering to carry, passengers, articles, or goods in or on a boat for fee or reward
  • Carrying on the business of boat repair.

If you meet any of the criterion in this section, you are will require a Section 33 Licence Agreement in addition to your Section 26 Boat Permit.

Section 33 (Lakes Ordinance 1976) requires NCA Delegate approval.

For more information on Commercial Activities on Lake Burley Griffin, please click here.

AMSA – Domestic Commercial Vessel (DCV) – (Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012)

Do any of the below apply to you:

  • Is your vessel used in connection with a commercial activity?
  • Is your vessel used in connection with a government activity?
  • Is your vessel used in connection with a research activity?
  • Will your vessel be used at any point in the above-mentioned activities?
  • Do you receive money from the operation of your vessel?
  • Is the vessel owned by a secondary or primary school and being utilised by people who are not students at the school?
  • Is the vessel owned by a community group and being utilised by people who are not members of the community group?
  • Is your vessel used in connection with enabling trainees to obtain licences that are needed to meet legislative requirements (i.e. boat licences, diving licences)?
  • Is your vessel used as a volunteer search and rescue vessel?

If you meet any of the criterion in this section and are uncertain if you are subject to the National Law, please contact AMSA on the National System Hotline on 1300 517 246 or national.system@amsa.gov.au, for assistance in determining your obligations under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012.