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Domestic crew certification reforms starting 1 January 2023

Regulatory requirements for certificates of competency, sometimes referred to as ‘tickets’, apply to thousands of Australians working across the domestic commercial vessel (DCV) industry.


The legislative framework for these certificates is called Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency).

After extensive consultation with industry in recent years, AMSA has developed a nationally consistent and simplified qualifications framework for people working on domestic commercial vessels via a revised Marine Order 505 which comes into effect on 1 January 2023. 

These reforms to domestic crew certification will provide an easier-to-navigate career pathway for people working on domestic commercial vessels by: 

  • Incorporating some existing exemptions into the revised Marine Order 505 and introducing new professional pathways for qualification. 
  • Revising some seatime requirements and removing some restrictions, which will help open more employment opportunities – without compromising on safety outcomes. 
  • Clarifying duties and definitions. 

It’s important to take the time now to understand how these changes might apply to you and your operation.

Most National System (AMSA-issued) certificate of competency (CoC) holders can continue to work as normal and will not be impacted by these changes. When it comes time to renew an expiring CoC or apply for a new CoC, your current CoC will transition to the new qualifications framework.

You do not need to take action prior to 1 January 2023.

Grandfathered (state or territory-issued) certificate holders will not be affected by these changes unless their certificate expires, or they voluntarily choose to transition to the new qualifications framework.

If you intend on applying for a new CoC, note that a certificate of medical fitness and first aid certificate will be required for all initial issue applications for new certificates from 1 January 2023. Training, and booking your seafarer medical takes time, and AMSA is encouraging crew to make these arrangements early. This will help make vessel operations safer for everyone.

There is also a new modernised standard for the assessment of medical fitness to be aware of. See more details below in ‘associated documents’.

Transitional arrangements

A number of transitional arrangements will be in place for a period of 12 months from 1 January 2023 to accommodate:

Summary of the major changes

  • National Standards for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part D – Crew competencies has been incorporated into the new Marine Order 505 (Certificate of competency), simplifying the qualifications framework. 
  • Five new CoCs have been created: 
    • Coxswain Grade 3 Near Coastal
    • Sailing Master Coastal
    • Sailing Master Offshore
    • Master <45m Near Coastal
    • Master <100m Near Coastal
  • Three old CoCs will be phased out and no longer issued from 1 January 2023: 
    • Master <35m Near Coastal – if you have this CoC, you can continue to operate as normal until it comes time to renew your CoC. When you apply to renew your CoC, your Master <35m will be replaced by the new Master <45m.
    • Mate <80m Near Coastal – replaced by existing Master <24m Near Coastal. Transitional arrangements in place, click here for more information.
    • Master <80m Near Coastal – if you have this CoC, you can continue to operate as normal until it comes time to renew, at which point your Master <80m will be replaced by the new Master <100m’.
  • At 1 Jan 2023, a number of exemptions are no longer required as they have been incorporated into the new Marine Order 505. The following exemptions will be repealed on 1 Jan 2023: 
    • Marine Safety (Temporary Service) Exemption 08 
    • Marine Safety (Inland Waters) Exemption 12
    • Marine Safety (Special Operations) Exemption 20
    • Marine Safety (Expired Certificates) Exemption 26
    • Marine Safety (Navigation Act Seafarer Qualifications) Exemption 30
    • Marine Safety (Expired Perpetual Certificates) Exemption 34
    • Marine Safety (Low Complexity Duties) Exemption 38
  • The following exemptions relating to sailing vessels will be phased out on 1 June 2025:
    • Marine Safety (Sail) Exemption 18 
    • Marine Safety (Sailing vessel with motor propulsion) Exemption 33
  • These exemptions are now replaced by two new Sailing Certificates of Competency as part of the new Marine Order 505. These Certificates are as follows:
    • Sailing Master Coastal NC
    • Sailing Master Offshore NC
  • A new modernised standard for the assessment of medical fitness has been created which allows for longer validity periods than previously (age-based consideration).

For detailed information 

Refer to the guidelines in ‘associated documents’ below, subscribe to AMSA Update and follow AMSA on social media.

Who do these changes relate to? 

  • People working on Australian DCVs. 
  • Anyone holding, or intending to obtain, a certificate of competency to work on a DCV. 
  • People and organisations with responsibility for the crewing of DCVs. 
  • People operating under an AMSA general exemption to perform duties or functions on an Australian DCV. 
  • Industry groups or bodies that represent Australian crew. 
  • Registered training organisations and service providers. 

Associated documents 

Last updated: 

Friday 26 August 2022