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Obtain and display a unique vessel identifier

Find out how you obtain your unique vessel identifier and how to display it correctly.

A vessel will automatically be issued a unique identifier when you first: 

  • apply for a certificate of survey
  • apply for a non-survey approval
  • apply for a C Restricted approval
  • apply for a specific exemption
  • tell us of your intent to build a vessel.

If you will not be making any of these applications, or you want to obtain the identifier sooner, you can apply for it as a standalone application

Find out about the cost of applying for a unique vessel identifier as a standalone application.

How to display your unique vessel identifier 

The identifier must be displayed clearly and prominently on the vessel, unless an exemption applies. This must be done within 21 days of being issued. If the vessel is still being constructed, the UVI must be displayed before the vessel is launched. 

Generally this would mean the unique identifier is: 

  • Displayed above the waterline on both sides of the vessel
  • A colour that contrasts with the hull
  • Large enough to be read from at least 30 metres away
  • Not obscured by nets, deck machinery, or other items.

Examples of how to display your unique vessel identifier

A vessel that is 10 metres long and white in colour displays its unique identifier: 

  • Black in colour
  • Solid characters that are at least 10 centimetres high
  • Located on the vessel’s port and starboard sides. 

A barge that is 45 metres long and black in colour displays its unique identifier:

  • Yellow or white in colour
  • Solid characters that are at least 15 centimetres high
  • Located on both sides of the vessel above the waterline.

A personal watercraft (PWC) that is white in colour displays its unique identifier:

  • Black in colour
  • Solid characters that are at least 10 centimetres high
  • Located on the PWC’s hull above the waterline. 

A unpainted aluminium alloy dinghy that is 4 metres long that displays its unique identifier:

  • Red in colour
  • Solid characters that are at least 10 centimetres high
  • Located on the vessel’s transom.

Examples of what is not clear and prominent display

  • A unique identifier on the vessel’s deck
  • A unique identifier on the inside of the hull
  • A unique identifier where one or more of the characters have been removed or damaged
  • A unique identifier that is displayed in unconventional font or in stencil.

Using an existing identifier

You can continue to display your identifier if it was issued by a state or territory marine safety agency, or by AMSA.

When you next interact with us we may give you a new unique identifier. This to make sure unique identifiers are truly unique across the country as some jurisdictions had overlapping sets of numbers. 

If your vessel already has an identifier, you do not need to display the AMSA issued unique identifier on your vessel. However, if the identifier currently displayed on your vessel is not clear, or if   maintenance affects the area, you may display the AMSA issued unique identifier instead.

Talking to AMSA about your vessel

When interacting with us (when applying for certificates or other permissions related to the vessel) it will be helpful if you can refer to your AMSA issued unique identifier. You can find this on our correspondence to you.

Multiple identifiers or other numbers

Your vessel may have gathered several numbers or other distinguishing marks over time. You can display whichever number or distinguishing mark you prefer to comply with the unique identifier requirements, as long as it was issued by a state or territory marine safety agency or AMSA for the purpose of identifying a domestic commercial vessel. 

A fishing license number is generally not a unique identifier for this purpose. 

An International Maritime Organization (IMO) number is also not a unique identifier.

Alteration or removal of unique identifier 

A unique identifier must not be altered or removed from the vessel unless the vessel: 

  • Has stopped being a DCV and the owner has told us in writing of that fact.
  • Is exempt from the requirement to display a unique identifier. 

However, any damaged or peeling characters can be reapplied.

It is an offence under the National Law for a displayed unique identifier to be altered or removed unless the alteration or removal is permitted under Marine Order 502. 

Sale of your vessel

The unique identifier remains with the vessel and is transferred with the change of ownership. The seller must tell us within 14 days of the sale.

Vessel sunk or scrapped

If a vessel is sunk or scrapped, the owner of the vessel must inform us within 14 days.

Depending on the certificates associated with the vessel you may also need to contact us about the following:

Last updated: 

Wednesday 31 July 2019