Class C restricted operations approval

All domestic commercial vessels must have a certificate of survey unless exempt.

What are Class C restricted vessels?

Marine Safety (Class C restricted operations) Exemption (also known as Exemption 40 or EX40) allows some vessels under 12 metres, operating in C restricted, D and E waters, to operate without a certificate of survey. This is subject to conditions including five-yearly in and out of the water surveys. Class C restricted waters are defined in Exemption 40 (Operational area) Determination. Note that in some states, different areas have been determined for different vessel lengths.

The requirements that apply to vessels using this exemption differ from the requirements for certificate of survey vessels in several ways. A class C restricted vessel is required to undergo initial survey, but does not need to comply with ‘full survey’ requirements. Instead, elements are up to the surveyor’s discretion, providing they are satisfied the vessel is fit for the intended use and the requirements of Exemption 40 are met. This enables some vessels that are not fully built to commercial standards to be certified for commercial use.

Access the My Boat system for guidance on how to keep your vessel compliant.

If your vessel is not eligible to use this exemption, it may still be exempt from requirements related to certificates of survey.


To be eligible your vessel must:

  • be less than 12 metres long
  • be a Class 2 (non-passenger) or Class 3 (fishing) vessel
  • carry no passengers, unless the vessel is a class 2 vessel while operating only in D and E waters
  • operate only in the part of operational area C determined by us (restricted C waters), D and E waters that is approved for the vessel’s length and number of persons carried
  • carry no more than the maximum number of persons permitted to be carried on board the vessel 
  • comply with the conditions specified in Schedule 1 of the exemption—these requirements are less difficult than those required by a certificate of survey
  • undergo an initial survey by an accredited marine surveyor.

Maximum number of persons permitted on class C restricted vessels 

The following table indicates the maximum number of persons permitted on class C restricted vessels.

Operational areaMaximum number of persons permittedMaximum number of day passengers permitted
D or E12

Class 2 vessels – 4 day passengers

Class 3 vessels – 0

Within 5 nm from a shore base that is also within restricted C operational area120
Within 15 nm from the shore that is also within restricted C operational area60
Elsewhere within the restricted C operational area30

Depending on the design, construction and stability characteristics of the vessel, the National Regulator may specify that a lesser number of persons are permitted on board the vessel.

Ongoing responsibilities

You must make sure your vessel continues to:

  • meet the eligibility requirements
  • comply with the conditions of the exemption
  • comply with any other conditions applied to your approval
  • be inspected in and out of the water by an accredited marine surveyor every five years, and provide the surveyor’s report to us.

You must notify us of any relevant change, including a transfer of vessel, change of name or address of the owner, and any alterations to the vessel or its operation that may invalidate an approval to operate under this exemption.

This exemption only relates to the requirement to have a certificate of survey. You are still required to comply with all other requirements that apply to domestic commercial vessels, unless you are exempt, including the requirement to:

How to apply

Apply for a new approval using Exemption application for Class C restricted operations form (AMSA 523) and pay the fee to:

  • apply for an Exemption 40 approval for the first time
  • add service categories
  • remove or change conditions on your current approval
  • notify us of modifications to your vessel that has a current approval.

If you are making any of the above changes, you can also use this form to make any of the changes listed below.

Apply to vary your existing approval using Applications to vary a vessel certificate or approval form (AMSA 566) and pay the fee to:

  • notify us of a transfer of certificate
  • change your name on the approval
  • update your contact details (if this is the only change you want to make you can do this without paying a fee by calling AMSA Connect).

Request a replacement copy

You can request a replacement copy of your class C restricted operations approval online. 

Notify us of an engine change

If you want to notify us of a change to engine(s) on a domestic commercial vessel, where the change does not invalidate the Exemption 40 approval, please complete the Notification of change of engine form (AMSA1847)

Last updated: 15 October 2021