Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Operations

Commercial vessels

If you own a vessel in Australia and use it for any commercial activity, you are required to obtain a Certificate of Operation.

Who needs a Certificate of Operation?

All domestic commercial vessels are required to have a certificate of operation unless they are exempt.

You are required to obtain a certificate of operation before starting any operations.

Vessels used for certain kinds of operations may be exempt from the requirement to have a certificate of operation. Details about the types of operations that may be exempt, are contained in:

  • Exemption 03Marine Safety (Certificates of operation) Exemption 2017
  • Exemption 04Marine Safety (Recreational use) Exemption 2013
  • Exemption 07 — Marine Safety (Temporary operations) Exemption 2016.

Certificate of Operation

A Certificate of Operation describes the conditions under which a vessel (or fleet of vessels) must operate, and details:

  • the vessels used in the operation
  • how and where the vessels can operate, and
  • crew required to operate a vessel safely.

The Certificate of Operation also sets out the need for a Safety Management System and is valid for up to five years.

How to apply for, or renew a certificate of operation

Applications and payments must be made to your local marine safety agency.

How to notify of a change of operation or vessel owner

Changed operation

Applications and payments must be made to your local marine safety agency.
Change of vessel owner

Applications and payments must be made to your local marine safety agency.

You must also notify your local marine safety agency within 14 days after your vessel is modified, sunk or scrapped.

Safety Management System

A Safety Management System (SMS) is a systematic approach to managing safety.

Your SMS should be based on a risk assessment of your operation and explain how you manage safety on your vessel.

The SMS requirements are contained in:

The owner, operator, master and crew of each vessel should all be involved in carrying out the risk assessment and in developing, reviewing and updating the SMS.

While not all vessels are required to have an SMS under the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV), we encourage you to develop and maintain an SMS for your vessel and operation. An SMS allows you to demonstrate you are meeting your general safety duties and your workplace health and safety responsibilities.

Resources to help you develop an SMS

Below are some sample Safety Management Systems for different types of operations:

How can I assess my SMS?

Use the SMS Verification Tool to assess the health of your SMS.

You may also contact AMSA or your local Marine Safety Agency to help you review and assess your SMS or to get information about meeting your general safety duties.

Service categories

Use the following table to work out your vessel service category. For example, a passenger vessel carrying 30 people and operating out to 15nm has a service category of 1C.

Vessel use Indicated by

Passenger vessel (13 or more passengers)

1

Non-passenger vessel (up to 12 passengers)

2

Fishing vessel

3

Hire and drive vessel used by the hirer only for recreational purposes

4

Unlimited domestic operations (no longer available to domestic commercial vessels)

A

Extended offshore operations (beyond 200nm from the baseline of the Australian mainland, Tasmania, a recognised island but within the EEZ)

B Extended

Offshore operations (within 200nm from the baseline of the Australian mainland, Tasmania, a recognised island but within the EEZ)

B

Restricted offshore operations (within 30nm from the baseline of the Australian mainland, Tasmania, a recognised island; within 50nm of the baseline of Qld, within the Great Barrier Reef Region or the Torres Strait Zone; whilst remaining within the EEZ)

C

Restricted offshore operations — specified areas

C Restricted

Partially smooth water operations

D

Smooth water operations

E

For information on sheltered waters boundaries (D or E operational areas) in any state or territory, contact your local marine safety agency.

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