Guide to registering your ship on the Australian General Shipping Register

This document has been developed to provide guidance and help ship owners better understand their responsibilities under the Shipping Registration Act 1981.

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This document should be read in conjunction with the legislation and supporting regulations. This document does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for independent professional advice.

Under the Shipping Registration Act 1981 (the Act) all Australian owned or operated ships, 24 metres and over in tonnage length, and capable of navigating the high seas, must be registered.

Any ship sailing to a foreign port must also be registered, regardless of size.

All other craft, including government ships, fishing and pleasure craft need not be registered, but may be if the owners desire.

Registered ships receive legally recognisable Australian nationality, which provides advantages both at home and abroad.

An Australian registered vessel is granted Australian protection on the high seas and in foreign ports. The proof of ownership that registration provides is recognised internationally, while at home it can facilitate the arrangement of mortgages and other forms of finance, and the sale of the vessel. When registering a vessel, refer to the Shipping Registration Act 1981 and Shipping Registration Regulations 1981.


Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Last Updated: 

23 August 2018