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Online platforms promoting overnight accommodation on vessels

If you have a boat, you may be considering hiring it out for overnight accommodation via an online platform—for example, Airbnb, Beds on Board or Flotespace—whether at a marina berth, or at a mooring.

Before you list your vessel for hire on an online platform, you need to ensure you are complying with all legal requirements that apply to this kind of vessel operation under the national law.  

A vessel that is hired out through an online platform—in exchange for money or any other compensation—will likely be considered a domestic commercial vessel. This is because it is being made available for use in connection with a commercial activity.

Operational and safety requirements

Before you list your vessel you should make sure your vessel is authorised to operate as a domestic commercial vessel. 

To do this, your vessel (unless exempt) will need the following certificates:

You should also ensure that the operation of your vessel:

  • Is covered by a safety management system that ensures that the vessel and operations are safe.
  • Complies with the relevant state, territory and commonwealth pollution laws that apply—including in relation to waterways management and pollution prevention. 

Exemptions

General exemptions

We have a range of general exemptions. These recognise that some operations can occur safely without needing to comply with the full suite of national law requirements. However, these exemptions do not generally apply to vessels hired overnight.  

Specific exemptions

An option available to you is to identify the parts of the national law that you can’t comply with, and then apply for a specific exemption from those parts. 

We will consider specific exemption applications in line with our published policy. 

Contact AMSA Connect for further information on general exemptions and specific exemptions. 

Compliance action 

Compliance action may be taken against vessel owners and operators who do not comply with national law requirements. 

We conduct our compliance and enforcement activities in accordance with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Compliance Strategy

These documents identify when and how we will use the compliance and enforcement tools available to us under the national law and other legislation. 

Penalties

There are substantial penalties for operating a domestic commercial vessel in breach of the national law. 

A vessel owner commits an offence if operating a vessel commercially without:

  • displaying a unique vessel identifier  
  • a certificate of survey
  • a certificate of operation.

Each of these offences are strict liability offences that currently carry minimum penalties of A$2560 for an individual and A$12,600 for a body corporate. 

Read more about penalties.

How to report suspected non-compliance 

We would like to ensure the safe operation of commercial vessels throughout Australia and provide a level playing field for all commercial operators.  

If you are aware of operators who appear to be operating commercially without the required certificates or exemptions, please report it to AMSA Connect

How to check compliance

You, as a customer, can ask to see certain documents before hiring a vessel.

The vessel should have:

AMSA and the share economy 

We are aware of future challenges, including the emergence of the ‘share economy’ and the growing popularity of peer-to-peer activities.

While keeping safety as our priority, we will work in a way that facilitates innovation and economic opportunity. 

We are currently working on a strategy to guide our engagement with the share economy. This strategy will provide clarity and certainty for our stakeholders. Once complete, our strategy will be published on this website. 

Last updated: 

Monday 2 December 2019