Unique vessel identifiers

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

You will receive a unique vessel 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 537

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

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

Apply for a unique vessel identifier

  1. Complete an application for a unique vessel identifier form 537.
  2. Pay the required fees.

About unique vessel identifiers

All domestic commercial vessels (DCVs) are required to have a unique vessel 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 vessel identifier may not have to be obtained, or displayed. Read Marine Safety (Vessel identifiers) Exemption 2017 (Exemption 01) to understand these circumstances.

Displaying your unique vessel identifier

If your vessel previously had a vessel identifier issued by a state or territory marine safety agency and it is currently displayed on the vessel—then this identifier may continue to be displayed indefinitely.  

If you have not previously had a vessel identifier, you must clearly and prominently display your AMSA issued unique vessel identifier at all times so it is visible from the outside of the vessel. 

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

Related information

Last updated: 

Friday 19 October 2018