Certificates of survey
Generally, vessels are required to have a certificate of survey to operate a commercial vessel in Australia.
Surveys check that your domestic commercial vessel is compliant with Australian laws and standards.
Apply for a new, or renew, vary, revoke or suspend a certificate of survey. Not sure? Read more below.
Do I need a certificate of survey?
Every domestic commercial vessel is required to have a certificate of survey unless it is exempt.
Circumstances where your vessel may be exempt from the requirement to have a certificate of survey include:
- small vessels operating in sheltered waters and carrying a small number of passengers
- human powered vessels (kayaks, canoes, paddle boats)
- small sailing vessels
- vessels used for recreational training
- volunteer marine rescue and fire service vessels
- existing vessels that were not required to have a certificate of survey on 30 June 2013
- vessels up to 12 metres operating in specific near shore areas of open water.
Your vessel may be required to have a load line certificate—even if it is exempt from the requirement to have a certificate of survey.
What will a certificate of survey allow me to do?
A certificate of survey will allow your vessel to be operated commercially in Australia and will identify:
- the service categories the vessel can be used in
- the number of crew, passengers, and special personnel that can be carried (note that minimum crew requirements also apply)
- any other conditions specific to the vessel.
What do I need to do once I have a certificate of survey?
Every vessel with a certificate of survey needs to be surveyed when the certificate is renewed. Some vessels also need to be surveyed periodically during the life of the certificate. You will receive a schedule of required surveys with your certificate.
You must make sure that you comply with the conditions of your certificate of survey at all times. These include the requirement for the vessel to continue to comply with the standards that apply to it and to be surveyed according to its survey schedule. It is an offence to operate a vessel in breach of a condition on its certificate of survey.
When and how do I apply for a new certificate of survey?
You need to apply for a new certificate of survey if your vessel is required to have one and:
- the vessel has never held a certificate of survey
- the vessel has not held a certificate of survey for the two years
- you want to remove or change a condition on the current certificate of survey
- you want to alter or modify the vessel or its operations
- you want to make any variation to your certificate when you renew it.
Select the ‘New’ button below for more information and instructions.
When and how do I renew my certificate of survey?
Certificates of survey are normally valid for five years. We will send you a reminder notice 90 days before your certificate expires. You will need to renew the certificate before it expires. If you have not renewed your certificate when it expires, you must stop operating until the certificate is renewed or you receive approval to operate temporarily under Exemption 7 Marine Safety (Temporary operations).
Select the ‘Renew’ button below for more information about how to renew your certificate of survey.
Select the ‘New’ button below if you are renewing your certificate and need to change anything on your certificate to avoid paying multiple application fees.;
How do I change details on an existing certificate of survey?
Select the ‘Vary’ button below if you want to:
- transfer the certificate
- remove a service category
- update certificate details.
If you only want to update the certificate holders contact details (for example if you have changed address or telephone details), you can do this without submitting an application by calling AMSA Connect. If you have changed your name (e.g. married) then select the 'Vary' button below.
Select the ‘New’ button below if you want to:
- add a service category
- remove or change a condition
- alter or modify vessel details.
What do I do if I can’t get my vessel surveyed, safety equipment serviced or compass adjusted by the due date?
You can apply to extend the time needed to complete a periodic survey, service safety equipment or have your compass adjusted.
You can also apply to extend the time needed to complete the out of water component of a renewal survey.
What if I sell my vessel?
You must notify us within 14 days if the vessel is sold. The certificate can be transferred to a new certificate holder. Select the ‘Vary’ button below.
Can I cancel my certificate of survey or put it on hold?
You can apply to suspend your certificate for up to 18 months. This will not extend the duration of the certificate. Select the ‘Suspend or revoke’ button below for more information.
You can apply to have your certificate permanently revoked. Note that if you are selling your vessel, a vary application is likely to be more appropriate. Once the certificate is revoked it cannot be reinstated and you or the subsequent owner will have to apply for a new one.
If you want to request that your certificate be revoked, select the ‘Suspend or revoke’ button below for information.
We can suspend a certificate of survey on our own initiative. We must do this if we are satisfied that the suspension is necessary for the purpose of:
- ensuring any unpaid fees are recovered
- ensuring necessary repairs are made to the vessel
- we consider it necessary in the interest of marine safety or protecting the environment.
We can revoke a certificate of survey on our own initiative. We must do this if:
- we consider it necessary in the interest of marine safety or protecting the environment or
- the certificate was issued error.
Who can survey my vessel?
Your vessel can be surveyed by an accredited marine surveyor who is accredited to perform the category of surveying being conducted. A vessel can also be surveyed by a recognised organisation (classification societies).
Electrical surveys for plan approval can only be performed by an appropriately accredited marine surveyor or recognised organisation. Other electrical surveys can only be performed by an appropriately accredited marine surveyor or a person who holds a valid unrestricted electrical licence issued by a state or territory. The electrical survey conducted by a person holding an electrical licence, must provide a certificate of compliance report to the surveyor surveying the rest of the vessel.