Transferring RAVs and DCVs

How to transfer a vessel from a regulated Australian vessel (RAV) to a domestic commercial vessel (DCV) or vice versa.

You may need to transfer your vessel to stay compliant with Australian standards and regulations.  

Instructions for:

  • ship owners and operators
  • shipping companies, shipping agents and ship builders acting on behalf of ship owners/operators.
Don’t leave it to the last minute. Transferring a domestic commercial vessel to a regulated Australian vessel, or vice versa, takes time and involves both AMSA and AMSA-appointed Recognised Organisations (ROs), also known as Classification Societies.

Reasons to change your commercial vessel’s operation 

  1. You have purchased a vessel overseas or have had a vessel built overseas, and want to bring it to Australia and operate it as either a DCV or a RAV.
  2. You want to sail a DCV overseas on occasional voyages (for example: for sale or delivery or dry docking).
  3. You intend to operate a DCV outside Australian waters (EEZ) on an ongoing basis.
  4. You no longer want to operate as a RAV on international voyages. 

These 4 scenarios are covered in more detail below.

Four common scenarios

Transferring from DCV to RAV: Key points

DCVs that intend to undertake overseas voyages must transfer to a RAV.

A DCV that is undertaking an overseas voyage is considered a RAV. It must comply with the relevant statutory, survey and certification requirements that apply to it under the Navigation Act 2012.


  • If the vessel is currently ‘in Class’ with an AMSA RO, the owner should contact the RO to obtain relevant statutory certification for the vessel to operate as a RAV.
  • If the vessel has previously been ‘in Class’ with an RO, the owner should contact the RO for re-instatement of Class.
  • If the vessel has not previously been ‘in Class’, the owner should contact an RO to understand the process of statutory survey and certification for a RAV.  
  • Depending on the reason of transfer to a RAV, the certificate holder should either suspend or revoke their National Law certification. 

Transferring from RAV or foreign-flagged vessel to DCV: Key points

A RAV or foreign-flagged vessel may want to transfer to a DCV if they are no longer carrying out commercial operations outside the Australian EEZ or they are being brought to Australia to operate as a DCV.  

If you are transferring from a foreign-flagged or regulated Australian vessel to a domestic commercial vessel, you will need to:   

  • notify your RO and of your intention - the RO will revoke any safety certificates they have issued to the vessel
  • make an application for a National Law certificate of survey and load line certificate using the AMSA521 application form and stating on the application that you:
    • wish to transfer the vessel from a RAV to a DCV, and
    • consent to the revocation of the vessel’s Navigation Act Safety certificates.

Once the application is processed, you will be provided a copy of the surveys required letter which is to be forwarded to your RO. All required surveys will need to be submitted before assessment of your application commences.

Refer to the National Law-Marine Surveyors Accreditation Guidance Manual  2014– Part 2 – Survey of vessels (PDF 984.07 KB). Chapter 8 provides information on survey requirements for RAV or foreign-flagged vessels becoming a DCV.

Contact if you or your RO have questions regarding the process. 

If the vessel has Navigation Act 2012 certificates issued by AMSA, the original certificates need to be returned to the following address: GPO Box 2181, Canberra ACT 2601.

Australian General Shipping Registration

An Australian owned ship is required to be registered on the Australian General Shipping Register if it is one of the following:

  • a commercial vessel, 24 metres or over in tonnage length, capable of navigating the high seas
  • any vessel travelling overseas.

The following vessels are exempt from the requirement to be registered (except if they are travelling overseas):

  • pleasure craft 
  • fishing vessels
  • government vessels.

These vessels are permitted to be registered and may be registered on the Australian General Shipping Register if the owner chooses to do so.

Last updated: 

Thursday 10 August 2023