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The conditions for registration on the AISR are specified in the Shipping Registration Act 1981 (SRA). In addition s.33B of the SRA states that a ship cannot maintain registration if it does not comply with the requirements of the Navigation Act or delegated legislation made under that Act.

3.1 Ships that may be registered

3.1.1 Ownership of ships

Section 15A of the SRA outlines the objects of the AISR while section 15B prescribes which ships may be registered on the AISR. Under this section ships of at least 24 metres in tonnage length may be registered on the AISR provided that they are trading ships and are either:

  • trading ships that are Australian-owned ships
  • trading ships that are wholly owned by Australian residents, or by Australian residents and Australian nationals
  • trading ships that are operated solely by Australian residents, or by Australian nationals, or by both
  • trading ships that are on demise charter to Australian based operators.

Subsection 3(1) of the SRA provides definitions of ‘Australian owned ships’ and ‘Australian residents’. Companies that have not been incorporated in Australia do not meet these definitions.

3.1.2 Trading pattern of ships seeking registration

Under section 15F of the SRA the Registrar of Ships cannot register a ship unless it is engaged predominantly in international trading. The term “predominantly used to engage in international trading” is defined in section 3 of the SRA as “if in a calendar year, the percentage of the time the ship is used to engage in international trading exceeds the percentage of the time that the ship is used to engaged in coastal trading or intra-state trading”.

Further information is given in section 61AB of the SRA.

The definitions of interstate, international and intra-state voyages under the Navigation Act 1912 or 2012 are not relevant in this matter.

Coastal trading and intra-state trading are defined in the SRA and in the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.

It should be noted that both coastal and intra-state trading require a coastal cargo to be onboard, whereas international trading requires either:

  • the international cargo to be onboard
  • for the voyage to be associated with an international cargo.

If any coastal cargo is onboard, the voyage cannot be considered as international trading.

The impact of this is that potentially ballast voyages between ports on the Australian coast may be considered in the calculation of international trading time but only if it is associated with an international cargo. This would generally occur on a ballast voyage immediately before carriage of an international cargo.

Some voyages will not be counted in the calculation of international, coastal or intra-state voyages. Examples would be voyages to dry dock, time in lay up etc.

Some further guidance on this is given in attachment 2.

“International trading” does not mean the ship cannot operate on the Australian coast. AISR ships are free to:

  • carry cargoes from overseas destinations to Australian ports
  • load cargoes for overseas destinations in Australian ports
  • transit Australian waters;

as is required by their trading pattern, and still be considered as being engaged in international trading.

In addition, AISR vessels will be able to be used by a Temporary Licence Holder to carry cargo under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. This would allow time limited access to AISR ships to the Australian domestic coastal trade when not engaged in international trading.

Further information regarding coastal trading is available on the DIT website.

Owners/operators of ships seeking registration will be required to submit a statutory declaration that the vessel will be used for “international trading” using form AMSA 328 as part of the registration process.

Note: AISR vessels that engage in coastal trading on inter-state voyages, as defined under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, or intra-state voyages may be subject to the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. Where doubts exists it is recommended the Fair work Ombudsman be consulted. Additional advice is available on the Fair work Ombudsman website

3.1.3 Survey and certification—acceptable class

Ships registered on the AISR will be required to comply with the Navigation Act at all times. Accordingly, under Marine Order 31 (Ship Surveys and Certification) all AISR ships will need to be “in class” with one of AMSA’s Recognised Organisations. All necessary certificates should be sought accordingly.

AMSA recognise nine members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and these are prescribed in Marine Order 1 (Administration) and include:

In considering certification requirements, AISR ships are also required to comply with all relevant Marine Orders. Marine Order 2 (Australian International Shipping Register) details variations to other marine orders that apply to AISR ships. As such Marine Order 2, in conjunction with all other relevant Marine Orders, should be consulted as a means to fully understand compliance requirements.

Find more information about marine orders.

3.2 Conditions of registration

Sections 15A, 15D, 15F and 33A of the SRA refer to, or outline, the conditions under which a ship may seek registration on the AISR4.

3.2.1 Senior officer positions

Under section 33A of the SRA the owner/operators must ensure that:

a) an Australian national or Australian resident is the Master or Chief Officer of the ship; and

b) an Australian national or Australian resident is the Chief Engineer or First Engineer of the ship.

In implementing this requirement the owner/operator is required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the two senior officer positions filled by Australian citizens or residents are those of the master and chief engineer.

3.2.2 Work agreements, collective agreements and compensation

Under s.15F(3)(b) of the SRA the Registrar of Ships cannot register a ship on the AISR unless a collective agreement has been made between the owner/operator of the ship and the seafarers bargaining unit specified in s.11A of the SRA.

Marine order 2 provides additional requirements for the making of collective agreements.

Collective agreements can form part of a work agreement, as permitted by the Navigation Act and must also contain provisions about wages, paid annual leave and dispute resolution procedures, as detailed in sections 61AE, 61AF and 61AG of the SRA. Wages must not be less than the amount determined by the Minister in accordance with section 61AE of the SRA.

It is an offence under the SRA (s s.61AM(1)) if the owner/operator of the ship fails to have in place compensation insurance for death or long term disability suffered by a seafarer on a ship on the AISR.

Evidence of the existence of such a policy will be required at the time the ship seeks registration in accordance s.7A(v) of Shipping Registration Regulations.

The Minister will determine the amount of insurance that is sufficient.

Read the Minister’s Determination about wages and compensation

3.2.3 Provision of information to aid assessment for acceptance

Under s.15F(2) a ship may only be registered on the AISR if it is deemed suitable. As a result it is a condition of registration that the owner/operators provide information to the Registrar of Ships to enable such an assessment to be carried out.

The matters are detailed in s.15F(2) of the SRA and in s.7(A)(ii) and (iii) of the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981. For an application for registration on the AISR the owner/operator is required to provide, as part of the documentation detailed in Part 6 of this guide:

a) The ship’s port State control (PSC) inspection records for the last 5 years. A shorter period will be accepted where the ship was delivered from builder less than 5 years prior to the date of application; and
b) The ship’s classification society records for the last 5 years. A shorter period will be accepted where the keel of the ship was laid less than 5 years prior to the date of application.


4. Including those vessels that transfer from the General Register to the AISR.