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Home > Maritime safety > Recreational maritime > Safety equipment > Personal flotation devices

Personal flotation devices

Victoria has requirements for wearing PFDs at certain times on recreational vessels. All occupants of the following vessels are required to wear a specified personal flotation device (PFD) when in an open area of the vessel that is underway:

  • powerboat up to and including 4.8 metres in length
  • off-the-beach sailing yachts
  • personal watercraft
  • canoes, kayaks, rowing boats and rafts
  • pedal boats, fun boats and stand up paddle boards
  • kite boards and sail boards
  • recreational tenders.

All occupants of the following vessels are required to wear a specified PFD at times of heightened risk when in an open area of the vessel that is underway:

  • yachts (including monohull, trailerable and multihull yachts, excluding off-the-beach sailing yachts)
  • powerboats greater than 4.8 m up to and including 12 m in length.

When you are alone on a vessel, regardless of its type, you must wear a PFD at all times.

For more information visit our page Frequently asked questions – personal floatation devices.

PFDs on children

Children under the age of 10 must wear a specified PFD at all times on any vessel, regardless of size, when they are in an open area of the vessel that is underway.

When choosing a PFD for a child, care should be taken to ensure that small children do not slip out of the PFD when placed in the water. This can be done by making sure that the garment fits the child and has a crotch strap. Also note that there is no current Australian standard for the manufacture of a PFD to fit a child that weighs less than 10 kilograms.

Are there different types of PFDs?

There are several different types of PFD, with varying levels of buoyancy. PFD types 1, 2 and 3 are personal flotation devices that comply with the requirements of the Marine Regulations 2012 (Vic).

  • A PFD type 1 is a recognised lifejacket and will provide a high level of buoyancy and should keep the wearer in a safe floating position. They are made in high visibility colours with retro-reflective patches.
  • A PFD type 2 is a buoyancy vest – not a lifejacket. It will provide less buoyancy than a PFD type 1 but is designed to keep your head above water. Like a PFD Type 1 they are manufactured in high visibility colours.
  • A PFD type 3 is a buoyancy garment – not a lifejacket. They have similar buoyancy to a PFD type 2 and are manufactured in a wide variety of colours.

More information

TSV Video - Play it safe this Father's Day

Our Father's Day campaign urges families who enjoy recreational boating activities to think safety and give Dad the gift of a lifejacket. We have created a video that promotes the message that any time of year is a good opportunity to think of your Dad's safety out on the water. Watch this short video below.

Personal flotation device

This video shows the video about Personal flotation devices.