Buying a boat can be a costly outlay for most people and is no different from buying a car.

Important advice when buying a boat in Australia, starts with doing as much research as possible before you buy a boat, whether it is through a dealer or a private seller.

The Department of Transport and the Boating Industry Association of WA have some helpful advice on what to consider when choosing and buying a new or used boat. You should also look at:

  • Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check. This service tells you whether or not a boat is recorded as “encumbered” meaning there could be money owing on it or the seller may not own the boat;
  • warranties – is there one and what does it include? (Some warranties are transferable. There may be a warranty  still existing on the used boat which needs to be transferred to the new owner); and
  • aftersales service and support.

Compare the boats you’re interested in, make inquiries, and inspect as many boats as you can.  You can explore brands, size, and prices on the internet and in local newspapers.  This information will assist you in getting the best price.

If an inspection reveals repairs are required, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the price or for the repairs to be carried out at the seller’s expense.

Important advice when buying a boat from a dealer

Buying a new boat from a boating retailer guarantees the buyer a clear title.  New boats purchased from a boat retailer come with a manufacturer’s warranty for a specified period of time as determined by the manufacturer.

You will be protected by the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Important advice when buying a boat from a private seller

When you buy a second-hand boat privately there is a risk there could be money owing on it or the seller does not own the boat outright. As the new owner, you could be liable for this debt or the boat subject to repossession by a finance company, other individuals, or company.

You will be responsible for registration, change of ownership, and history checks. To protect yourself, it is advisable to do a PPSR check on the boat’s Hull Identification Number (HIN) and/or the outboard motor.

You are also protected by the ACL, however not all consumer guarantees apply. You can find out more about your rights when buying from a private seller from Consumer Protection.

The Department of Transport website has some tips on what to look out for when buying a second-hand boat.

Australian Builders Plate (ABP)

Australian Builders Plates are required for all new recreational powered vessels that are either:

  • offered for sale to the public for the first time
  • being registered in WA for the first time

*Vessels built before 2 September 2006, when the law was introduced, do not need an ABP.

An ABP provides information on a boat’s capability and capacity. It shows details such as the maximum outboard engine power and compulsory warning statement.

There are some exceptions for special categories of boats. More information about the types of vessels exempted from ABPs and what an ABP contains can be found on the Australian Builders Plate section on the Department of Transport website.

Consumer Protection is responsible for enforcing ABPs are installed on all required vessels and the information contained is correct.

If you have purchased a new boat without an ABP, contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 or email