Vessels owned by community groups and clubs

Vessels owned and operated by community groups or clubs may or may not be domestic commercial vessels.

A vessel owned by a community group or club is likely to be considered a domestic commercial vessel if it is: 

  • Owned by a for-profit community group or club.
  • Engaged in volunteer marine rescue activities which are captured by the national law.
  • Hired to non-members as a hire and drive vessel.
  • Chartered to non-members.
  • Used to train non-members for a fee.
  • Being used to operate a business open to members of the public, such as fishing, leisure charter or sight-seeing.

If a vessel is a domestic commercial vessel then the national law applies to the vessel, although there may be exemptions from certain requirements depending on the size, type and area of operation.  

Read more about what you need to do before you operate your domestic commercial vessel

Vessels unlikely to be a domestic commercial vessel 

A vessel owned by a community group or club is unlikely to be considered a domestic commercial vessel if: 

  • The vessels are owned by the organisation (within the definition of ‘owner’ in the national law).
  • The organisation is a bona fide not-for-profit organisation.
  • The vessels are used only by members of the organisation.
  • The members are bona fide members with rights and obligations set out in the constitution of the organisation.
  • The fees charged to members only aim to recover costs incurred by the organisation. 

Please contact the marine safety agency in the state or territory where the vessel operates for information on what rules apply. 

More information

If you are still unsure, contact us via and provide as much detail as possible about the vessel, its operations, and your organisation. 

You may also wish to seek independent legal advice that takes into account your specific circumstances.

Last updated: 4 January 2021