About tenders

Tenders come in a range of different shapes and sizes, you might call them dories, tinnies or auxiliary vessels and they can be used to support a larger vessel operation or on their own.

The important thing to remember is that if you use a tender as part of your commercial operation it must comply with the right standards. 

AMSA defines a tender as a domestic commercial vessel used to transport goods or people (no more than 12), or for another purpose associated with its parent vessel’s operation. A tender is limited to operating in line of sight of its parent vessel (or another approved distance), or in a marina or a mooring area. A tender is usually less than 7.5 m long and must not be longer than its parent vessel and not powered by an inboard petrol engine. 

Importantly the national law applies to all vessels used for a commercial purpose, including tenders. 

There are special arrangements for vessels which meet the definition of ‘tender’ under the national law. 

Identifying a tender 

To figure out if the vessel is a tender under the national law, the vessel must: 

  1. Be used to transport goods or up to 12 people, or for a purpose associated with the parent vessel’s operation. 
  2. Operate in line of sight of its parent vessel, or another distance approved in writing by AMSA, or in a marina or mooring area. 
  3. Measure less than 7.5 metres or another length approved in writing by AMSA. 
  4. Measure less than its parent vessel. 
  5. Not be powered by an inboard petrol engine. 

Read more about how to identify a tender

Rules that apply to tenders

Which requirements apply to your tender may depend on when it entered service. 

Read more about the rules that apply to tenders


Markings for tenders

Like all commercial vessels tenders must have appropriate markings.  

If your tender is associated with a parent vessel, it does not have to have its own unique vessel identifier (UVI) but still must be appropriately marked in one of the following ways. 

Display the words ‘tender to’ followed by the name or UVI of the parent vessel. 

Display the UVI of the parent vessel followed by ‘- T’. 

Display the name of the owner of the vessel followed by the word ‘tender’. 

If your tender does not operate with a parent vessel you must obtain and display a UVI for that tender. 

Learn more about UVIs and how to display them

General safety duties

The general safety duties apply to all commercial vessel operations—even those that are grandfathered or operating under an exemption. 

General safety duties include, but are not limited to, that you must  

Provide and maintain the vessel so that it is safe,  

Ensure the safety of the vessel, people, marine safety equipment, and the operation of the vessel.  

Implement and maintain a safety management system (SMS) that ensures that the vessel and its operations are safe. 

The general safety duties, including the requirement to implement and maintain a safety management system apply to tenders as well. 

Read more about your general safety duties

Tenders without parent vessels

When people think of a tender, it is often a small vessel attached to a larger one, but this is not always the case. AMSA’s definition of a tender does not require the tender to have a parent vessel. 

Under the national law a tender may operate without a parent vessel while in a marina or mooring area. These types of operations may include work boats that perform maintenance activities around marinas or transport passengers from a wharf to moored vessels. While these types of tenders may not be associated with a parent vessel the same rules apply to their operation. 

While the operation of a tender associated with a parent vessel may be covered in the parent vessels safety management system a tender without a parent vessel must have its own dedicated safety management system. 

Tenders without a parent vessel must also have their own unique vessel identifier. 

Read more about inshore and marina use.


Last updated: 

Thursday 5 November 2020