Welcome to the Lifejacket Safety Rules Victoria article by FishingMad. Lifejackets are an essential safety item that one day might save your life. There are different rules and categories of lifejackets which can be quite confusing. The purpose of this article is to walk you through the different types of lifejackets, and the various rules around usage requirements. Please feel free to download this Victoria Recreational Boating Safety Handbook 2020 edition to familiarise yourself with current rules and regulations.



Even experienced boaters can be confused by lifejacket requirements

On my last fishing outing on my 4.2-meter runabout boat, I was greeted by the marine police who polity came on board and inspected my boat. As expected my licenses and registration were in check, all catches were within size limits, I had a working marine radio, New packet of flares with 12 months before their expiry, onboard was a floating bucket, rope, working paddles, multiple working torches that float and an accessible fire extinguisher. I did however come up short in one area that really surprised me.

There were 2 of us fishing, and we had 4 lifejackets on board. However, to my surprise 3 of these life jackets were not Type 1 ( level 100 ) certified which is a mandatory requirement for boats under 4.8 meters. The 2 life jackets not certified were very expensive a non-inflatable Hobie rock series 3 life jacket cost $169, the other was a jet pilot matrix pro life jacket which cost $229. Both of these life jackets were very expensive and marketed to have superior safety features to many of the standard PFDs sold at most retail chains. But these lifejackets were classified as a Type 2 ( level 50 ) which isn’t certified on boats under 4.8 meters.

Hobie lifejacket

I’m an angler with years of boating experience and was surprised to learn that the $40 self-inflating lifejacket from BCF was certified but the expensive life jackets I had already invested in were uncertified. Our day was cut short and we ventured back to the boat ramp and down to the local tackle store to buy a couple of type 1 life jackets. Many of my angling friends too were very surprised by this. How manufacturers like Hobie and Jet Pilot who make outstanding fishing equipment can sell lifejackets that are not certified for use on boats under 4.8 meters is quite misleading. They’re OK to be used on a jet ski or kayak offshore but not on a boat in inland waters. The logic is type 1 life jackets have support behind your neck which will keep your head raised if floating on the water. With kayak and jetski fishing booming there may need to be more awareness about this and more discussion around standardisation.

Different types and classifications of lifejackets

Did you know that there are multiple different types of lifejackets and they all have different certification levels depending on whether you fishing from a boat, kayak or jetski either inshore, offshore or on lakes. Yep, it can be quite confusing. So let’s use this opportunity to run you through the different types of life jackets and their certified usage. Maritime safety Victoria has a helpful tool to help you choose the correct website. You can find that here at the Lifejacket selector tool.

lifejacket classification

Type 1 – level 100 lifejacket

A lifejacket Type 1 provides a high level of buoyancy and keeps the wearer in a safe floating position. They are made in high visibility colours with reflective patches

Type 1 - Level 100 Lifejacket

Type 2 – level 50 lifejacket

A lifejacket Type 2 is a buoyancy vest. It provides less buoyancy than a lifejacket Type 1 but sufficient to keep you afloat.

Type 2 - Level 50 lifejacket

Type 3 – level 50S lifejacket

A lifejacket Type 3 is a buoyancy garment. It has similar buoyancy to a lifejacket Type 2 but is manufactured in a wide variety of colours and is shaped or equipped for particular activities.

Type 3 - Level 50S lifejacket

Lifejacket Safety Rules Victoria requirements table

Children and lifejackets

LIFEJACKETS ON CHILDREN The master of a recreational vessel or a hire and drive vessel that is underway must ensure that every person aged less than 10 years old who is on an open area of the vessel wears a lifejacket at all times. Penalties apply when lifejackets are not worn. When choosing a lifejacket for a child, care must be taken to ensure that the garment fits the child and that small children do not slip out when they are in the water. Where possible, a child’s lifejacket that features a crotch strap is strongly recommended, as it assists to hold the child in the jacket.

How to choose the right life jacket

Go into a certified boating and safety shop and to be properly fitted by an experienced lifejacket maintainer. They can run you through the different options and ensure you pick one that’s suitable and comfertable.

Use the Maritime Lifejacket selector tool

Follow helpful media like the video below from

Additions and corrections

Thanks for reading this Lifejacket Safety Rules Victoria. If you have any questions, corrections or additions then please direct them to enquiries@fishingmad.com.au and we will get back to you as soon as we can.