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Guidance for certificates of survey (Scheme S) for domestic commercial vessels

All domestic commercial vessels (DCVs) under the National Law are required to meet applicable design, construction, stability and equipment standards. The way that vessels demonstrate compliance with standards differs depending on whether vessels are Scheme S (in survey) or Scheme NS (non-survey).

Owners of Scheme NS vessels will generally only be required to declare compliance with the relevant standards. All DCVs are required to have a National Law certificate of survey issued by us, unless they are exempt under:

  • Marine Safety (Certificates of survey) Exemption 2017 (No.2) (also referred to as EX02) or
  • Marine Safety (Class C restricted operations) Exemption 2017 (also referred to as EX40).

A certificate of survey is evidence that a vessel has been surveyed and meets specified standards for design, construction, stability and safety equipment that apply to the vessel. These standards are set out in Marine Order 503 (Certificate of Survey - national law) 2017  and for some kinds of vessels, modified by our general exemptions.

Vessels required to undergo survey and obtain a certificate of survey are Scheme S vessels.

Generally, Scheme S consists of vessels that:

  • are more than 7.5 metres in length
  • operate in A, B or C waters
  • carry passengers, and
  • have characteristics associated with a higher level of risk.

If your vessel is a Scheme S vessel, the standards that will apply will depend on whether it is a new, transitional or existing vessel, as defined in Marine Order 503.

EX02 and EX40 exempt some kinds of DCVs from the requirement to have a certificate of survey, which are known as Scheme NS vessels.

My Boat is an online application which will help you to understand the requirements of scheme S and your vessel suitability.

Issue of a certificate of survey for Scheme S vessels

A certificate of survey will normally be issued for a period of five years for each Scheme S vessel. Periodic and renewal surveys are generally required throughout the life of the certificate and to renew the certificate of survey on expiry. The frequency of these surveys will depend on the survey regime that applies to the vessel.

The purpose of periodic and renewal surveys is to ensure that the vessel continues to meet the standards that apply to the vessel as set out in Marine Order 503.

What you need to do under the National System for your Scheme S vessel

What you need to do, and what standards apply to your vessel, depends on whether your Scheme S vessel is:

  • an existing vessel
  • a  transitional vessel
  • a new vessel
  • a heritage vessel
  • an unpowered barge
  • a vessel that is surveyed by a recognised organisation.

The below summary of standards for existing vessels, new vessels, and transitional vessels table provides an overview of standards applying to existing, transitional, and new vessels.

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 may also be surveyed by a recognised organisation.

Electrical surveys, other than surveys for plan approval, can be only be performed by an accredited marine surveyor who is accredited to perform electrical surveys or a person who holds a valid unrestricted electrical licence issued by a state or territory.

If the electrical survey is being conducted by a person holding an electrical licence, they must provide the compliance report to the accredited marine surveyor surveying the vessel as soon as practical after the electrical survey is completed.

Electrical surveys for plan approval can only be performed by an accredited marine surveyor who is accredited to perform the category or categories of survey undertaken.

We maintain a register of accredited marine surveyors detailing the categories of surveying the person is accredited for, and a list of recognised organisations.

Conditions on certificate of survey

Once your vessel has been issued a certificate of survey, it is important that you comply with the conditions of that certificate. These conditions are those in section 7 of Marine Order 503. A certificate of survey may also be subject to additional vessel-specific conditions that we impose.

These conditions include ensuring that the vessel continues to meet the standards, that the vessel continues to be surveyed in accordance with the survey requirements, and that the National Regulator is notified if the vessel or its operations will be changed.

Unless exempt, it is an offence under the National Law for a vessel to be operated where a condition of a certificate of survey is being breached.

Applying for a certificate of survey

To apply for a National System certificate of survey you need to:

  1. Complete the relevant certificate of survey application form AMSA 521 and associated documentation. This is available from us or your local marine safety agency.
  2. Provide the evidence required to support the application.
  3. Pay the required fees.

You can also contact your local marine safety agency for further information about Scheme S.

Apply to vary, suspend or revoke certificate of survey

The owner of a vessel with a certificate of survey can apply to do any of the following:

  • Vary your certificate of survey to ensure information on your certificate remains accurate (eg change of name, the vessel has been altered—other than a Schedule 1 change—sold or damaged).
  • Obtain a replacement certificate of survey when your certificate has been lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Voluntarily suspend a certificate of survey if you wish to voluntarily suspend your certificate of survey for up to 18 months.
  • Voluntarily revoke a certificate of survey if you wish to voluntarily cancel your certificate of survey permanently.

Suspension or revocation of certificates of survey on the initiative of the National Regulator

Summary of standards for existing vessels, new vessels, and transitional vessels

Area

Existing vessel

New vessel

Transitional vessel

Construction, subdivision, stability, fire safety, and machinery and associated systems 

Existing vessels surveyed before 1 July 2013—the standards that applied to the vessel when it was last surveyed before 1 July 2013

 

Existing vessels not surveyed before 1 July 2013—the standards that applied to the vessel when design approval was approved

 

New vessels that are Class 1, 2 or 3—NSCV Part C1, Part C3, Part C4, Part C5, and Part C6. Plus the following Sections of the USL Code:

  • USL Code Section 5, subsection C, clauses C.42 to C.47, C.49 to C.53, C.54.2, C.55 to C.57, C.61.1, C.61.2a, C.61.3, C.61.3a, C.61.4, C.61.5, C.67, C.68, C.69.1 to C.69.6 and C.70 to C.73
  • USL Code Section 5, subsection D, clauses D.9 to D.15 and D.18 to D.36; and
  • USL Code Section 7

New vessels that are Class 4—NSCV Part F2

New vessels that are Fast Craft—NSCV Part F1

Transitional vessels that are Class 1, 2 or 3—the standards Table 1 in schedule 2 of Marine Order 503

Transitional vessels that are Class 4—NSCV Part F2

Transitional Vessels that are Fast Craft—standards in Table 1 of schedule 2 of Marine Order 503

Alternately, these vessels can apply the standards that would apply if the vessel was a ‘new vessel’

 

Equipment standards

 

 

The standards that applied to the vessel on 30 June 2013

New vessels that are Class 1, 2 or 3—NSCV Part C7B to C7D

New vessels that are Class 4—NSCV Part F2

New vessels that are Fast Craft—NSCV Part F1

Transitional vessels that are Class 1, 2 and 3—NSCV Part C7B, C7C  C7D

Transitional vessels that are Class 4—NSCV Part F2

Transitional Vessels that are Fast Craft—NSCV Part F1

Alternately, these vessels can apply the standards that would apply if the vessel was a ‘new vessel’

Safety equipment standards

Existing vessels that are Class 1, 2 or 3—the transitional safety equipment requirements in Annex I of NSCV Part C7A

Existing vessels that are Class 4—the transitional safety equipment requirements in Part F2

Existing vessels that are Fast Craft—the transitional safety equipment requirements in Part F1

New vessels that are Class 1, 2 and 3—NSCV Part C7A

New vessels that are Class 4—NSCV Part F2

New vessels that are Fast Craft—NSCV Part F1

Transitional vessels that are Class 1, 2 and 3—NSCV Part C7A (other than Annex I)

Transitional vessels that are Cass 4—NSCV Part F2

Transitional vessels that are Fast Craft—NSCV Part F1

Alternately, these vessels can apply the standards that would apply if the vessel was a ‘new vessel’

Survey regime

Section 4 of NSAMS, Section 14 USL Code, or another survey process that applied to the vessel when last surveyed before 1 July 2013

Section 4 of NSAMS

Section 4 of NSAMS

Related forms

References

  • Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012
  • Marine Order 503 (Certificates of survey national law) 2017
  • Marine Safety (Certificates of survey) Exemption 2017 (No. 2)
  • Marine Safety (Class C restricted operations) Exemption 2017
  • Marine Safety (Unpowered barges) Exemption 2017 (No. 2)

Note: this page was previously published as guidance notice AMSA 729

Last updated: 6 February 2018
Last reviewed: 6 February 2018