Australian Maritime Safety Authority


Vessels and the National law

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

To take advantage of the arrangements for existing vessels, you should contact a marine safety agency or AMSA and tell us about your operation by 30 June 2015

Certificate of Survey

What is a Certificate of Survey?

A Certificate of Survey shows that a vessel has been surveyed and meets the standards for construction stability and safety equipment.

When do I need to get a Certificate of Survey?

New vessels

You may need a Certificate of Survey if you have a new vessel or your vessel was not operating before 30 June 2013.

You will need a certificate if your vessel will be:

  • greater than or equal to 7.5m in length
  • carrying passengers
  • operating beyond sheltered waters
  • otherwise high risk

If your vessel doesn’t fall into any of the above categories, it may be classed as a non-survey vessel and won’t need a certificate.

Before starting any operations you will need to complete an Application for Approval of a New Scheme Non-Survey Vessel. You can submit the application along with supporting material, which may include your vessels’ plan, as well as any identification marks or compliance plates, to a marine safety agency who will process your application on AMSA’s behalf.

Existing vessels

If your vessel was involved in commercial activity at any time between 30 June 2011 and 30 June 2013 you can operate your vessel, along with any tenders and auxiliaries, under your existing Certificate of Survey until it expires or until 30 June 2016, whichever comes first.

How do I get a Certificate of Survey?

You will need to complete an Application for Certificate of Survey for a Domestic Commercial Vessel and submit it along with supporting material, which may include your vessels’ plan, as well as any identification marks or compliance plates, to a marine safety agency who will process your application on AMSA’s behalf. Fees are set by the marine safety agencies.

Periodic survey

Your Certificate of Survey will show when your vessel is required to have a periodic survey. To arrange a survey, you can contact either:

  • an accredited marine surveyor (in any state or territory); or
  • in Western Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and New South Wales your local marine safety agency also offers survey services.

Applicable standards and requirements for vessels

Information about the applicable standards and requirements for vessels under the National System is available here. The information available via this link is correct as at February 2017. Users should check current marine orders and standards or with the National Regulator for any changes that may have taken effect after this date.

Recreational vessels

Recreational vessels are managed by state and territory law around Australia. If you have any questions about the management and licensing of recreational vessels, please contact your local marine safety agency.

Sale, loss or disposal of a vessel or change of details

If you have sold or transferred ownership of your vessel, or it’s been lost or disposed of, you will need to complete a Notification of Change of Ownership.

If you need to notify us of a change of details on your certificate, complete a Notification of a Change to a Certificate, or Request Replacement of a Certificate.

Unique Identifier

New vessels

You will automatically receive a unique identifier when your vessel is first surveyed or if you apply as a non-surveyed vessel. You can also apply for a unique identifier through your local marine safety agency

Existing vessels

If your vessel has a name or number on the outside of the vessel, it is treated as a National System unique identifier. If you were not required to display an identifier before 1 July 2013, you are not required to have one until 1 July 2016. A unique identifier will be issued to you when you apply for a national system certificate. These rules also apply to tenders and auxiliaries also.

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)


Non-passenger vessel (up to 12 passengers)


Fishing vessel


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


Operational area Indicated by

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


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)


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)


Restricted offshore operations — specified areas C Restricted

Partially smooth water operations


Smooth water operations


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

Are you complying with the National Standards?

To help with the interpretation of standards under the National System, the National Regulator has developed tools to help you check your compliance with the National System for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) and Marine Orders (MO). The aim of these tools is to reduce surprises at survey.

These tools are based on the deemed-to-satisfy requirements of the NSCV. If your vessel does not meet these requirements, alternate solutions may be acceptable subject to the assessment methods outlined in Part B of the NSCV.

My Boat

My Boat is an online application developed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to help industry understand and comply with vessel survey requirements and has combined the following calculators into one application:

  • Propeller Shaft Calculator - checks if your proposed or existing propeller shaft complies with the NSCV’s diameter requirements.
  • National System Requirements - determines the standards and requirements that apply to your vessel and operation under the National System.
  • Navigation Lights and Shapes Requirement Generator - finds what navigation lights and shapes your vessel must display in a specific situation or across all operations.
  • Equipment List Generator - generates a tailored equipment list for your vessel.

My Boat supports people in the DCV industry including designers, builders, surveyors, owners and operators. Based on the National Standards for Commercial Vessels, Marine Orders and National Law exemptions, you only need to put in the details of your vessel and My Boat will produce results specific to you.

Accredited Surveyors

For further information on the survey of your vessel, you may wish to speak to an Accredited Surveyor.

From 1 July 2015, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (SA) will not be providing surveys or naval architecture surveys. Please read the Changes to vessel inspection services (vessel survey) from 1 July 2015 for more information.

Radio surveyors

For information about radio station surveys, you can speak to a radio surveyor.

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