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Australian legislative framework for VTS

We are responsible for leading national policy on vessel traffic services (VTS).

VTS are internationally recognised navigational safety measures under the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 74/78 (SOLAS).

Regulation V/12 of SOLAS states:

  • VTS contribute to safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic.
  • Contracting governments may establish VTS when, in their opinion, the volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such services.
  • Contracting governments planning and implementing VTS shall, wherever possible, follow the guidelines developed by the IMO.

The IMO Assembly Resolution A.1158(32) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services recommends that contracting governments take into account the guidelines when planning and implementing VTS in accordance with regulation V/12 of SOLAS. This includes:

  • The purpose of VTS.
  • The regulatory and legal framework for the establishment of VTS.
  • The responsibilities of contracting governments, competent authorities, VTS providers and participating ships.
  • Standards and associated recommendations, guidelines and model courses specifically related to the establishment and operation of VTS published by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA).

SOLAS is implemented in Australia by the Navigation Act 2012 which establishes, AMSA as the competent authority for VTS in Australia and allows regulations to be made in relation to VTS. 

Section 213 of the Act allows regulations to be made in relation to VTS.

Marine Order 64 (Vessel traffic services) is the regulation that provides for VTS in Australia, setting out the arrangements for AMSA to regulate:

  • VTS providers, including authorisation, certification and auditing.
  • VTS training organisations, including accreditation, approval of model courses and auditing
  • Masters of vessels to provide reports required by VTS providers and to comply with their instructions.


As the competent authority for VTS we are responsible for:

  • Ensuring VTS are established and operated in accordance with relevant international conventions and IMO instruments, IALA standards and national law.
  • Ensuring VTS training is approved, and VTS personnel are certified
  • Leading on national policy for VTS in Australia.
  • Ensuring Australia’s interests with regards to VTS are considered in international forums such as IMO and IALA.

VTS providers are responsible for:

  • Operating VTS within national and international guidelines and legislation, including AMSA policies, such as:
    • VTS compliance and enforcement framework.
    • Qualifications and training for VTS operators.
    • VTS duty of care and liability.
  • Setting operational objectives for VTS that are consistent with improving the safety and efficiency of ship traffic and the protection of the environment and that the objectives set are routinely evaluated to demonstrate that they are being achieved.
  • Ensuring appropriate equipment, systems and facilities for the delivery of VTS are used.
  • Ensuring VTS are adequately staffed and that VTS personnel:
    • Have satisfactorily completed generic VTS training approved by AMSA.
    • Have satisfactorily completed on-the-job training at the VTS where they are employed.
    • Undergo periodic assessments and revalidation training to ensure competence is maintained.
    • Are in possession of appropriate certification.
  • Ensuring that information regarding requirements and procedures of VTS and the categories of ships required to participate in VTS are promulgated in appropriate nautical publications.
Last updated: 26 October 2022