Unique identifiers

Domestic commercial vessels must have a unique identifier unless they are exempt. A unique identifier is like a number plate for your vessel.

You will receive a unique identifier when you apply for a certificate of survey or other vessel permission, or you can make a standalone application for a unique vessel identifier form 568

Anyone can apply for a unique identifier for the vessel. It is not necessary to be the vessel owner, builder or surveyor.

The rules about unique identifiers are in Marine Order 502 (Vessel identifiers—national law) 2017.

Apply for a unique identifier

  1. Complete an application for a unique vessel identifier form 568.
  2. Pay the required fees.

About unique identifiers

All domestic commercial vessels (DCVs) are required to have a unique identifier unless exempt. 

The unique identifier stays with the vessel over its life, even if the vessel changes ownership.

The identification of vessels is important:

  • identification by the National Regulator when the vessel is being operated
  • identification by marine safety inspectors, other vessel operators and the general public where a vessel may be operated in a dangerous manner
  • to assist with search and rescue purposes
  • to assist with recovery if a vessel is lost or stolen.

A unique identifier may not have to be obtained, or displayed. Read Marine Safety (Vessel identifiers) Exemption 2017 (Exemption 01) to understand these circumstances.

Read Issue and display a unique vessel identifier guidance notice 527 for more information about unique identifiers.

Related information

Last Updated: 

11 July 2018