Overview of the international and domestic legislation and standards that apply in Australia.

Australia's maritime safety and environment protection regulatory system is based on international and national standards, and Australian government policies. Our regulations are developed in consultation with peak bodies, and industry stakeholders.

Domestic legislation

The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (the National Law) replaces eight federal, state and territory laws with a single regulatory framework for the certification, construction, equipment, design and operation of domestic commercial vessels inside Australia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Please read our Statement of Regulatory Approach as the national regulator for domestic commercial vessels.


The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Regulation 2013 (the national law regulations) sets out:

  • the definition of domestic commercial vessel
  • the definition of vessel
  • details and requirements of the accredited marine surveyor scheme
  • fees that may be charged for things done under the National Law.

Marine orders

Marine orders made under the national law set out the specific requirements in relation to vessel and operational safety certification, vessel identification and administrative requirements.

Marine orders also set out vessel safety standards for vessel construction, equipment, design, operations and also for obtaining seafarer certificates.


The National Law allows us to grant exemption from the national law or parts of the national law in certain cases. This includes the national law itself, the national law regulation and marine orders made under the national law.

There are two types of exemption under the national law:

  • General exemptions—these exemptions may be issued on the initiative of AMSA. General exemptions typically have general application to vessels, people and operations which meet the relevant criteria and conditions in the general exemption and
  • Specific exemptions—these exemptions may be granted on application in accordance with the regulations.

Our policy on granting exemptions sets out the matters that we will consider when deciding whether or not to grant an exemption.

International standards

We work collaboratively to ensure that international maritime safety and environment protection standards are reflected in our domestic legislation.
These  standards relate to ship design and construction , ship survey and safety, crewing, seafarer qualifications and welfare, occupational health and safety, carriage and handling of cargoes, passengers and marine pollution prevention. 
The Navigation Act 2012, Protection of the Sea Acts and marine orders put into effect the following international convention requirements applicable to Australia.
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
  • International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships
  • Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)
  • International Convention for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW)
  • International Convention on Load Lines (Load Lines)
  • Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)
  • International Convention on Safe Containers (CSC)
  • International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships
  • Convention on the Limitation of Liability of Maritime Claims

Amendments to conventions and international standards are discussed at meetings convened by the international organisation responsible for the convention or standard. We attend meetings, to present Australia's views, convened by the following organisations:

How do I get involved?

It is our job to ensure our regulations and standards reflect our safety standards and meet industry's needs.

For international standards, Australia maintains a strong international presence through bilateral contact with maritime safety agencies, cooperation and engagement and multi-lateral agreements. We engage with our domestic stakeholders through advisory and working groups and direct email to assist us to develop Australia's position prior to each of these meetings.  

For our domestic standards, we convene a number of committees and technical advisory panels to inform us when making changes to marine orders and standards.

More information on our engagement forums and how you can get involved is available on our consultation page.

How can I find out when a marine order or standard has changed?

We have a number of ways to tell you when a change to a marine order or standard has been made.

Last updated: 

Tuesday 30 October 2018