Domestic waterfront licences

Domestic waterfront licences are granted by the department for the use of submerged and tidal Crown land where there is direct access to Crown land. By managing built structures on our waterways through appropriate licensing, the department can ensure that waterways are not overcrowded and are balanced with the public's right to foreshore access.

Domestic waterfront licences are granted to the registered owner/s of properties adjoining Crown land with waterfront structures such as jetties, boat sheds, berthing areas, boat ramps, slipways and pontoons on foreshore Crown land adjoining waterfront properties.

Domestic waterfront facility policy

The domestic waterfront facility policy is applied by the department for the management of domestic waterfront facilities on Crown land. The policy outlines our position when:

  • Assessing applications for landowners consent (to facilitate development, or other, applications);
  • Issuing licences for the occupation of Crown land for domestic waterfront facilities; and
  • Managing these waterfront occupancies.

Applying for a domestic waterfront licence

A domestic waterfront licence is available for new domestic waterfront facilities and for transferred licences issued by the department. A domestic waterfront licence can be transferred to a new waterfront property owner where structures already exist. When the application is assessed, you may be required to provide a recent set of photos showing the whole area from offshore and onshore and at both high and low tides and a copy of a recent identification survey prepared by a registered surveyor showing the structures, freehold boundary and the mean high water mark.

The licence agreement outlines the responsibility of the licence holder over the lifecycle of the structure, from initial granting of licence, ownership, care and maintenance, rent and payments, indemnity and insurance through to the removal of a structure.

Read more about the standard terms and conditions of a domestic waterfront licence.

Who licences domestic waterfront facilities?

There are two main agencies licensing domestic waterfront facilities on our state's waterways. Roads and Maritime Services is responsible for leasing domestic waterfront facilities in Sydney Harbour and its tributaries, Botany Bay, Newcastle Harbour and Port Kembla Harbour. Further information can be found on

The department is responsible for licensing domestic waterfront facilities in the remaining waterways on the eastern seaboard of NSW. The department issues licences for approved structures on submerged Crown land below mean high water mark and up to three nautical miles off the NSW coast.

When needs a domestic waterfront licence?

If you own a waterfront property and there is an adjoining domestic waterfront facility over Crown land you must hold a current licence from the department. If you are an existing account holder and you are considering making additions to or replacing your domestic waterfront facility, you are required to obtain landowners consent and approval from relevant authorities so that your licence can be altered appropriately.

If you are interested in constructing a new domestic waterfront facility on foreshore Crown land adjoining your property, you will need to first apply for landowners consent from the department prior to seeking development consent from your local council and then apply for a domestic waterfront licence.

New domestic waterfront licences

Application forms for a new domestic waterfront licence, sublicensing, waterfront access only and shared facilities or contact the Waterfront Tenures team (refer below for details). Your application should be accompanied by the current application fee shown on the form, or refer to our fees page for details.

Further application costs may include valuation, site investigation, land assessment advertising, survey and an environmental assessment (under the provisions of Part 5, Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979).

Existing licence

If there is a domestic waterfront licence associated with a freehold property it will be identified by a notation on the Certificate of Title. This places a "flag" on the title so the licence can be easily identified in any conveyancing process of the freehold property. You will need to contact the Waterfront Tenures team to find out more information about the licence and any supporting documents you may need to provide as part of the licencing process.

Application requirements

The following supporting material/documentation is required to enable consideration of an application for a new domestic waterfront licence:

  • Relevant Development Application or Integrated Development Application form (available from your local council) for endorsement of landowner’s consent, if approved. Note that normal council requirements regarding development consent also apply to the erection of any proposed structures.
  • A recent set of photos of the site. The photos are to show the whole area from offshore and onshore and at both high and low tides. Please supply photographic prints, not slides or polaroids. **
  • A copy of a recent identification survey, not more than two years old and prepared by a registered surveyor, showing the dimensions of the structures to scale, and the relationship of the proposed structures to the boundaries of the adjoining freehold property and the mean high water mark. **
  • Detailed plans of proposed structures (preferably prepared by a structural engineer) plotted to scale and with all dimensions shown.
  • A Statement of Environmental Effects of the proposal prepared by a suitably qualified person.
  • Written consents of NSW Fisheries and Roads and Maritime Services to the proposal.

It may be necessary for the department to undertake a land assessment of any area proposed to be licensed for domestic waterfront structures. In addition, the NTSCorp will be notified of new builds and licence transfers in accordance with the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 subdivision 24KA.

** These documents may be required where an existing licence is transferred to a new waterfront property owner. Where possible the department will use current survey information.

Domestic waterfront rent

In 2012 the NSW Government accepted NSW Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal's (IPART's) 36 recommendations for changes to the rental calculations for domestic waterfront occupancies.

The changes to rental calculations resulting from these recommendations commenced on 1 July 2012 and are summarised in the fact sheet Domestic waterfront occupancies – 2012 changes in rent.

IPART Formula

All domestic waterfront occupancies have a two-part tariff, comprising an annual administration fee ($214 as at 1 July 2015) and an annual rental charge. The administration fee applies to all tenures and is increased each financial year by the NSW government annual cap on NSW public sector wages. Annual charges are subject to GST.

Total annual charge ($) = annual administration fee + annual rental charge
The annual rental charge covers the occupation and use of public land below the mean high water mark (MHWM) and is calculated using the four elements in the formula below.
Annual rental charge ($)=Precinct Statutory Land Value ($/m2) x occupancy area (m2) x discount factor (50%) x precinct specific rate of return (%)
The calculation of Precinct Statutory Land Values (PSLV) is on a 3-year rolling average to coincide with timeframes used to update the rate of return the other key variable in the rental formula.
SLV for each property within a precinct ($/m2)=3-year average SLV of waterfront property+ 3-year average SLV of its adjoining occupancy
over area of waterfront freehold property + area of its adjoining occupancy

The rate of return for each regional precinct is updated annually by IPART. The net rate of return for each precinct is calculated using:

  • Rental rate of returns for residential non-strata properties.
  • Sales and rental data from Land and Property Information and Housing NSW.
  • A three-year rolling average updated each financial year to match the period for PSLVs.
  • Outgoings calculated as a percentage of the gross rate of return using the Australian Taxation Office’s statistics. These outgoings will be subtracted from the gross rate of return to determine the net rate of return for each precinct.


For a full list of precincts, maps and descriptions visit the domestic waterfront precincts page.

Water Access Only (WAO) property

Tenants with occupancies that are only accessible by water (WAO occupancies) are exempt from the rental charge for the area of occupancy that is for the sole purpose of accessing the adjoining waterfront property. The annual administration fee applies to all tenures. If you wish to apply for a review of your occupation area please fill out and submit the domestic waterfront water access only occupation area review application form and provide supporting evidence.

In order to determine the area of occupancy that is for the sole purpose of accessing the adjoining waterfront property, the criteria for essential and discretionary structures are listed below.

  • Essential structures: jetty, wharf, platform, jetty ramp, pontoon, berthing area, slip ramp*, boat ramp*.
  • Discretionary structures: All other structures such as boat lifts, boat sheds, reclamations, swimming pools, residences are considered discretionary.

* Only applicable where there is no other essential structure


All domestic waterfront licence accounts are set up to be paid quarterly. If you prefer to pay your rent on a yearly basis, simply contact and advise Accounts branch.

Hardship provisions and pensioner concessions

Hardship provisions for rental payments continue to apply to all domestic waterfront occupancies. Once an application for hardship has been considered and determined, the tenant will be notified in writing of the department's decision in relation to the request for consideration for hardship provisions and a justification will be provided for the decision. Where a tenant is not satisfied with the department's decision on hardship provisions there is now a right of appeal for domestic waterfront occupancies. The appeal will be considered by a departmental officer not previously involved in the original hardship application.

Licence holders who are eligible pensioners may qualify for a rebate on their domestic waterfront rental. These concessions do not apply to the administration fee.

To find out more about the range of rebates available to eligible holders and for application forms go to the concessions and hardship relief page.

Licences over shared structures

The department is improving its licensing and accounting systems so that tenants who share structures receive a separate licence agreement. Typically, a licence over shared structures is granted to the registered owners of waterfront properties where existing structures straddle both properties. This allows tenants to more easily share their individual rental costs whilst better recognising each party’s interests and aligning title deeds and property details for rating and insurance purposes.

The current business arrangements allow tenants to share rental costs based on their area of occupation adjoining their freehold land, and to receive individual land accounts. Under the 2012 two-part tariff rental formula an annual administration fee applies to all licence holders. If you currently have a licence over shared structure/s and would like to find out more about our licencing arrangements please contact the Waterfront Tenures team (refer below for details).

Where waterfront structures straddle two properties and ownership changes, a recent survey (not more than two years old) is required. The department may use this survey information to licence the adjoining property to calculate the area of occupation for rental purposes. In this situation, sharing costs is a private arrangement between affected parties.

If you have no waterfront structures directly adjoining your freehold land and you would like a licence, you will need to negotiate a sharing agreement with owners/licence holders and enter into a formal or informal agreement. If a formal agreement has been decided, please complete the domestic waterfront shared facilities application and lodge it with your payment at the address shown on the front page.

Each application is assessed on its merits and it is important to note that not all licences previously granted over shared waterfront structures will be automatically transferred when properties change hands. In particular, where waterfront structures are located on Crown reserves or do not directly adjoin a property, any sharing agreement becomes a private arrangement between the licence holder and interested parties.

Termination of domestic waterfront licences

The department may terminate a licence at any time the Minister sees fit; at the request of a holder; or where the terms and conditions of a licence agreement have not been met. Depending on the circumstances, the department will only terminate the licence once the structure is removed according to local council requirements and the site is rehabilitated. Where the licensing structure is shared between a number of holders, agreement from all parties should be sought. Unpaid rent may lead to the termination of a licence and the removal of the structures. All costs associated with the removal of a structure are the responsibility of the holder.

Sublicensing approved berthing areas

The department offers eligible domestic waterfront licence holders the opportunity to sub-license their approved berthing area to a third party. This will provide more options and greater flexibility for waterfront homeowners and boaters across NSW. The initiative is designed to ease the strain on the state's waterways, particularly in Pittwater, Georges River and Port Hacking where demand for mooring spaces is increasing. The scheme aims to maximise the use of existing maritime infrastructure resulting in less demand for critical space in the state's waterways and to provide licence holders with an opportunity to generate an income to help maintain their waterfront facility.

For further information on the option to sublicense and instructions on how to apply, refer to the documents below:

For more information contact the Waterfront Tenures team on 1300 886 235 (option 3) or email