With our spectacular coastline and waterways, it’s no wonder boating is a popular pastime for Australians. If you’re looking to get in on the action and buy a boat of your own, we’ve put together some boat buying tips. 

Go boat shopping

It’s important to look at the costs of boat ownership and set yourself a budget. Consider the additional costs such as registration, insurance, and potential storage fees. Do you need your boat licence? What kind of extra accessories are you interested?

When looking for your boat, online could be a good place to start, with research and reviews. Are you going to be buying a new or used boat? You can find a private seller online, or you could buy a new or used boat from a dealership. Either way, it’s important to inspect the boat before you buy it. Check things like the engine, propeller, steering and electrics. If you can, bring an experience boater with you or you may even want to engage an experienced mechanic or surveyor. 

If it’s ticked all the boxes, take the boat for a sea trial – the boat version of a test drive. Just like a car, this will give you a good feel for the boat and how it performs on the water. If it’s a used boat, this can help you identify any faults or issues. Again, bring along an experienced boater to help you if you can. 

Understand the hidden costs

In addition to buying the boat itself, a trailer and things like rego and insurance, there are a few other costs to think about like on-board gear (life jackets, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), oars, ropes/mooring gear, GPS, flares), storage (for a small boat you might be able to find some space to store it at your home or maybe look at permanent mooring costs), and maintenance (keep strictly to the boat’s maintenance schedule).

Documentation and registration

It is important to see title documentation for the vessel, including the appropriate state-based registration certificate and receipt of purchase, the documents that transfer legal title in a boat. Ideally these should show a complete paper trail back to the original builder’s certificate. In reality, older boats (particularly those more than 20-30 years old) may not have a full set of documentation. An owner of an older boat can arrange a Hull Identification Number (HIN) via their state registry office to show they bought the boat, as well as other documentation such as receipts for moorings, boatyards and so on that substantiate their involvement with the vessel over a period of time.

Check for encumbrances – this is to safeguard purchasers of boats from unnecessary financial loss. If you buy a boat without knowing it’s financially encumbered (has money owing on it) you could have it legally repossessed and lose your investment. 

Vessel registration in Australia is done on a state-by-state basis by the relevant registry office:

• Transport Safety Victoria

• Maritime Safety Queensland

• Department of Premier & Cabinet (South Australia)

• Department of Transport (Western Australia)

• Marine and Safety Tasmania

• Department of Transport (Northern Territory)

• Roads and Maritime (NSW)

Getting a boat loan

To finance your boat, you may be looking at getting a boat loan. Our personal loans can be used for boats, and you can compare them to find the right one for you. You can also see what your loan repayments might be using our personal loan calculator.

Boat insurance

Whether you’re on or off the water, your boat likely needs protection. Teaming up with CGU, we offer boat insurance which can have you covered to help you get on with enjoying the moment. Get the right cover for how you use your boat and only pay for the protection you need.

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