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Swimming pools

We want you to enjoy your pool or spa and keep your family safe. Find out the safety requirements for all swimming pools and barriers in Port Stephens, including residential pools, tourist and visitor accommodation pools, or multi-dwelling complex/strata pools.

  • Approvals. Find out the development or approval requirements for all swimming pools and spas
  • Swimming pool or spa registration requirements. Find out how to register a pool or spa
  • Barrier requirements. Find out the basic safety requirements for swimming pool and spa barriers.
  • Swimming pool or spa barrier certificates of compliance. Find out whether you are required by law to have a Certificate of compliance.

To find out more about water quality testing at our public pools, click here.

Swimming pool barrier certificate of compliance

Complete our online form to apply for your swimming pool barrier certificate of compliance.

Swimming pools

Approval requirements

To build or install a swimming pool containing over 2000L of water on your property, you need an approval. This includes any in-ground, above ground, portable or temporary type swimming pool.

If you are installing a swimming pool through a pool company, check with them whether they are organising the approval. Some companies may do this on your behalf, however, others leave it up to the property owner.

You may like to contact our Duty Planner for clarification around approvals.

Registration requirements

Since 2013, all swimming pools in NSW, regardless of when they were installed, must be registered on Fair Trading’s NSW Swimming Pools Register. Penalties may apply if your pool is not registered.

Barrier (fencing) requirements

Swimming pools that can be filled to a depth of 30cm are required by law to be surrounded by a compliant barrier. The barrier must be well maintained. It must not lean, have broken parts or be in poor condition.

When installing a swimming pool barrier in NSW, the basic requirements are:

Barrier

  • It must be a minimum of 1.2m high measured from ground level
  • If it forms part of your boundary fence, the boundary fence must be a minimum of 1.8m high
  • It must not contain any gaps underneath that are greater than 10cm
  • It must not have any gaps within the actual fence greater than 10cm

Gate

  • Be self closing and self latching from any position
  • Be kept closed at all times
  • The latch release mechanism must be minimum 1.5m above ground level unless the latch is shielded (in which it must be shielded in accordance with the Australian Standard)

Signage

  • A CPR chart must be visible inside the pool area. It must be in good condition. The chart must adhere to the ANZCOR Guideline 8

Buildings

  • When installing a new swimming pool and barrier, there must not be any entry from a house or garage directly into the pool yard
  • When installing a new swimming pool and barrier, there must not be any structures or buildings inside the pool area that are not directly related to the swimming pool. These can include but are not limited to BBQs, outdoor entertaining areas and cabanas/living spaces. A structure that covers a pool filter is permitted inside a pool area

These are only a few of the requirements of a swimming pool barrier. Our officers assess swimming pool barriers in much more detail based on the relevant legislation and standards.

If you want to know more about barrier requirements for pool owners, check Fair Trading’s website.

Swimming pool barrier certificates of compliance

The following swimming pools must have a valid swimming pool barrier Compliance Certificate:

  • Tourist and Visitor Accommodation (including Air B&B and Bed & Breakfast type accommodation)
  • Multi-dwelling complexes where there is more than 2 dwellings on the property
  • Any property for sale
  • Any property that is currently being leased

You can get a Swimming Pool Barrier Certificate of Compliance through us or via a Swimming Pool Certifier/Inspector and it is valid for 3 years (an occupation certificate for a pool can be used for the first 3 years).

To get a swimming pool barrier Certificate of Compliance through us, you can apply and pay online here or contact us on 4988 0115. Once completed and submitted, we will contact you within a few days, to arrange a date for the inspection, which will usually be within 1 to 2 weeks.

We will attend your property and conduct a full barrier inspection. We do not require the owner to be there on most occasions, however access must be provided.

Once the inspection has been completed, if your pool barrier is compliant with the standards, we will provide you with a Swimming Pool Barrier Certificate of Compliance and add this information to the NSW State Swimming Pool Register. If your barrier is found non-compliant, we will issue you with a Certificate of Non-Compliance (except for strata properties) and provide you a detailed Inspection report outlining any areas of non-compliance and a time frame to rectify the issues. In some cases, we may issue a direction under the Swimming Pools Act.

A property owner can choose to sell the property with a valid swimming pool barrier Certificate of Non-Compliance. The new owner who purchases a property with a Certificate of Non-Compliance, has 90 days to rectify the issues after the date of settlement and they must contact us to arrange a barrier inspection prior to the expiry date. Penalties may apply if the works are not completed within this time frame.

Spas

Approval requirements

To build or install a spa or swim spa containing over 2000L of water on your property, you need an approval. A spa used for bathing in your bathroom does not require approval.

If you are installing a spa through a spa company, check with them whether they are organising an approval. Some companies may do this on your behalf however others leave it up to the property owner.

You may like to contact our Duty Planner for clarification around approvals.

Registration requirements

Since 2013, all spas in NSW that hold more than 2000L, regardless of when they were installed, must be registered on Fair Trading’s NSW Swimming Pools Register. Spa owners are required to do this.

Fencing (barrier) requirements

All spas and swim spas are required by law to be covered or surrounded by a compliant barrier. This can be a lockable lid or a swimming pool type fence. If using a lockable lid, the lid must be closed and locked at all times when not in use. The lid/barrier must be well maintained at all times.

A CPR chart must also be on display within the vicinity of the spa.

If you want to know more about barrier requirements for spa owners, check Fair Trading’s website.

Spa barrier certificates of compliance

The following spas must have a valid swimming pool barrier Compliance Certificate:

  • Tourist and Visitor Accommodation (including Air B&B and Bed & Breakfast type accommodation)
  • Multi-dwelling complexes where there is more than 2 dwellings on the property and the spa is on common property
  • Any property for sale
  • Any property that is currently being leased

A Spa Barrier Certificate of Compliance is valid for 3 years.

To get a Spa Barrier Certificate of Compliance through us, you can apply and pay online here or, if you need assistance, you can contact us on 4988 0115. Once completed and submitted, we will contact you to arrange a date for the inspection, usually within 1 to 2 weeks.

We will attend your property and conduct spa barrier inspection. We do not require the owner to be there for most inspections, however access must be provided.

Once the inspection has been completed, if your spa barrier is compliant with the standards, we will provide you with a Spa Barrier Certificate of Compliance and add this information to the NSW State Swimming Pool Register. If your spa barrier is found non-compliant, we will issue you with a Certificate of Non-Compliance (except for strata properties) and provide you a detailed Inspection Report outlining any areas of non-compliance and a time frame to rectify the issues.

Port Stephens Council swimming pool barrier inspection program

Following amendments to the Swimming Pools Act, we have developed a Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program in conjunction with consultation with our community members. This program was adopted by Council in October 2013 and implemented in 2014.

The legislative requirements of this program are outlined in the Swimming Pools Act and Regulations:

  • To inspect, at least once every three years, any swimming pool barrier situated on a premises that is tourist and visitor accommodation or has more than two dwellings
  • To inspect any pool at request of owner
  • Ensure all swimming pool barriers inspected are compliant with the relevant Australian Standard
  • Investigate any reports of non-compliance with the Swimming Pools Act 1992
  • Record in Council's Annual Report, the number of Inspections carried out under Division 5 Part 2 of the Swimming Pools Act that were on tourist and visitor accommodation, on multi-dwelling premises, or resulted in certificate of compliance and certificates of non-compliance.

FAQs

Yes! (in most cases)

Under Section 7 of the NSW Swimming Pools Act 1992 the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool safety barrier (a pool fence).

Some older pools may have an exemption to the above. However, there are separate requirements for these pools to ensure they are compliant with the Australian Standards.

Any swimming pool (in-ground, above ground, portable, or inflatable) that is capable of holding more than 30cm of water must have a compliant pool fence.

Remember though, a swimming pool fence does not replace the need for supervision.

Yes! (in most cases)

If your swimming pool, portable spa or swim spa can hold more than 2000 litres of water, you must have approval for the construction and installation of it. This can be gained from Council.

If you have a smaller spa, you may not require approval for the installation but it will still require a Certificate of Compliance if you are selling your property or the property is being rented.

Yes and No.

You must have a barrier between a portable spa or swim spa. These spas are commonly placed on a rear decks, verandas or within a sunroom.

A portable spa or swim spa must be either appropriately fenced like a swimming pool or must be covered and secured by a lockable child-safe structure (such as a spa lid) at all times when the spa is not in use.

You do not have to fence a spa bath which is located in your bathroom and used for bathing purposes.

Yes! (in some cases)

Any pool that is capable of holding more than 30cm of water must have a compliant fence. These pools can include blow up children’s pools, and the above ground pools you can purchase from department stores and construct at home.

It does not matter if the pool is empty. If the pool is capable of holding more than 30cms of water, it must be appropriately fenced.

If you do not fence your pool with a compliance pool fence, Council will require you to dismantle it immediately.

Council encourages parents of young children to always empty the very small plastic pools used for babies and to ensure there are no large buckets, toys or other items in your yard that can hold any amount of water.

Remember, it’s not just about the safety of your own family, but also the safety of your friends and neighbours.

A CPR sign.

All pools need a resuscitation chart/warning notice (CPR chart) to be displayed in a prominent position within in the immediate vicinity of the pool. If it’s faded or not legible, you will have to replace it. You can purchase these charts at your local swimming pool or hardware store.

Council encourages all swimming pool owners to learn how to perform CPR, especially if you have young children.

Sometimes.

If you selling your property – yes.  You will need to get a Certificate of Compliance for your swimming pool barrier. In most cases, if an Inspector carries out an inspection and finds your swimming pool fence does not comply, you may choose to sell your property with the Certificate of Non-Compliance; however, the new owner will need to carry out the required works once they move in.

If you are a landlord and you’re renting out your property – yes. You must have a valid Certificate of Compliance at all times. You cannot lease a property without one.

If your property is considered tourist and visitor accommodation (hotels, motels, caravan parks, AirBNB’s, Stayz etc) – yes. You must a valid Certificate of Compliance at all times. This includes any short term accommodation even if it’s only rented out once a year.

If your property has more than two dwellings (multi-unit complexes often managed by a strata corporation) – yes. You must have a valid Certificate of Compliance at all time.

If you live in your own property within the Port Stephens Local Governement Area – no. Not at this stage. However, there may be legislative changes in the future which might change this, but we will let you know if that happens. You can still request an inspection at anytime to see if your pool barrier it compliant.

Some private organisations, such as home based childcare, may have their own policy requiring you to have a valid Certificate of Compliance.

If you own a pool in another Council area, please contact the relevant Council to find out their swimming pool barrier inspection requirements.

Yes!

In NSW, all pool owners are required to register their pool online in a state wide Swimming Pool Register. You can do this yourself online for free or Council can register your pool on your behalf for a fee.

To register your swimming pool or spa, click here.

The first inspection will cost $150 and any re-inspection will cost $100. Usually, we will be able to inspect your swimming pool barrier within one to two weeks and an inspection usually takes between 15 minutes to 1 hour.

If you have a separate spa and a swimming pool on your property, you may be required to pay for two inspections. Contact us on 4988 0115 for more details.

As a pool owner, you are required to ensure your swimming pool is surrounded by a compliant swimming pool fence at all times. A compliant swimming pool fence will reduce the risk of a young child from gaining access to the pool but will never replace the need for proper supervision.

When you are entertaining guests and using the pool, always remember to have an adult dedicated to watching the children in the pool at all times. Do not presume someone else is watching them.

Remember:

  • Always supervise children when they are using the swimming pool
  • Ensure your children participate in learn to swim classes from a young age
  • Always ensure you have a compliant swimming pool fence that separates your swimming pool from your house and other adjoining properties
  • Ensure all sections of your pool fence are maintained and operating correctly (Eg. make sure there are no broken panels or large gaps and regularly check gates are self-closing and self-latching)
  • Make sure pool gates are kept closed at all times
  • Keep articles, objects and structures at least 900mm clear of the pool fence at all times, (eg chairs, pot plants)
  • Display a CPR sign and ensure you and your family members know how to perform CPR.

For more recommendations and requirements to ensure your pool safety, take a look at the Royal Life Saving Australia webpage.