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Certificates of operation (CoO)

If you own or operate a domestic commercial vessel in Australia, you are required to obtain a certificate of operation before you operate the vessel.

If you work on a domestic commercial vessel and need to renew your certificate of competency please go to our information about qualifications.

Conditions

A certificate of operation sets out the conditions under which a domestic commercial vessel—or fleet of vessels—must operate, including:

  • the vessels used in the operation
  • how and where the vessels can operate
  • other conditions AMSA considers necessary due to the nature of either a vessel or an operation.

It is a condition of the certificate of operation that the vessel must have a safety management system that complies with the requirements in marine order 504.

We may check that you are meeting the conditions of your certificate of operation at any time. If we believe that you are not meeting the conditions of your certificate of operation we may suspend or revoke your certificate.

Apply, renew, vary, suspend or revoke a certificate of operation

To apply for a new certificate of operation, renew an existing certificate, or to vary a certificate of operation you will need to submit the application for a certificate of operation for a domestic commercial vessel form 504.

If you would like to renew your current certificate of operation, can provide a copy of the current certificate, and do not want to make any changes, you can submit an application to renew a certificate of operation form 553.

To suspend or revoke a certificate of operation you will need to submit the application to suspend or revoke a certificate or approval form 600.

If you operate or intend to operate a vessel that is ≥80m or ≥3000 GT or ≥3000 kW, you must apply to AMSA for an appropriate crewing determination as part of your application for a certificate of operation. More details on how to apply for a crewing determination can be found on the appropriate crewing page.

Recent changes mean you may now be exempt from having a certificate of operation. Please check Exemption 03 Marine Safety (Certificates of operation) before applying to renew your certificate.

If you are unsure if you are eligible for this exemption, please contact AMSA Connect.

Changes to vessels

If you sell your domestic commercial vessel, you are required to notify AMSA within 14 days. Please see transferring ownership of a domestic commercial vessel for information on how to notify AMSA.

You can transfer any current certificates of survey or exemption approvals (such as Exemption 02 and Exemption 40) to yourself or an organisation by using the AMSA 1780 Application for change of certificate holder for a vessel permission. Please note if the vessel is an existing vessel as per Marine Order 504 you will still need to submit the AMSA 1780 form.

Certificates of operation cannot be transferred between operators. If you are purchasing a domestic commercial vessel, you will need to apply for a new certificate of operation using the AMSA 504 Certificate of Operation application form. You are able to use this form to apply for a new certificate of operation or to vary an existing certificate of operation. If you already hold a certificate of operation, you may add a vessel to that existing certificate of operation using the AMSA 504 Certificate of Operation application form.

Existing vessels - operational safety requirements

An existing vessel:

  • is not a new vessel
  • is not a foreign vessel
  • was entitled to be operated for a commercial, government or research activity within the two years ending on 30 June 2013
  • has previously been known as a 'grandfathered' vessel.

All existing vessels will still be required to obtain a certificate of operation, unless exempt.

Read Marine Order 504 (Certificates of operation and operation requirements - national law).

Crewing existing vessels

An existing vessel may operate with the crewing requirements that applied to the vessel on 30 June 2013, but must otherwise comply with the current operational requirements in Marine Order 504.

Modifying existing vessels

We may decide that a vessel is no longer an existing vessel if:

  • you have altered or modified the vessel
  • its operation or area of operation have changed so that there is an increased level of risk.

We may also determine a vessel is not an existing vessel upon application by the owner of a vessel. In this case, the vessel, would need to meet all the current national law requirements.

Can I request a replacement certificate?

You can request a replacement copy online.

Exemptions

Vessels used for certain kinds of operations may be exempt from the requirement to have a certificate of operation, or from certain conditions on a certificate of operation.

Details about the types of operations that may be exempt are contained in:

Rules about certificates of operation

The rules about certificates of operation are contained in:

  • Schedule 1 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessels) National Law Act 2012
  • Marine Order 504 (Certificates of operation and operation requirements – national law)

Last updated: 

Friday 8 December 2023