NSW Maritime

Life Jacket Rules

The 'Maritime' lifejacket reforms took effect in NSW
from 1 November 2010, with a 12 month advisory period.

Will the requirements for canoes and kayaks change?

Yes. People will be required to wear a lifejacket when in a canoe or kayak on: enclosed waters when more than 100m from shore; or ocean waters.
This will be a change from the existing requirement by which a lifejacket is required to be worn when 400m from the nearest shore.

When operating a kayak or canoe:

  • In sheltered waters, when more than 100 metres from an accessible shore.
  • In open (ocean) waters, at all times.

  • Why? Current rules require a lifejacket to be worn when more than 400 metres from shore. There have been a small number of fatalities involving these kinds of craft and their use is increasing dramatically. The risks associated with this type of boating are significantly mitigated by the wearing of a lifejacket.

    For the majority of people it would be an insurmountable challenge to swim 400 metres, especially so if the weather was rough, they were wearing clothes, and they were disorientated following a capsize. If you were operating close to shore in sheltered waters it would still be okay not to wear a lifejacket. But if more than 100 metres from an accessible shore, or in open (ocean) waters, a lifejacket would have to be worn.

    Other changes
  • When kayaking, canoeing, and kitesurfing a type 3 lifejacket can be used. This will minimise the impact on the operation of the craft.

  • Lifejacket type 3
  • A type 3 lifejacket is a buoyancy vest with the same overall buoyancy as a type 2 lifejacket. It is not required to be made in high-visibility colours. Type 3 lifejackets are mainly used for aquatic sports such as waterskiing where comfort and style are important. A type 3 lifejacket must comply with the relevant Australian or overseas standards.

  • See Maritime website for details.