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Instructions for brokers

These instructions for ship registration and transfer of ownership are provided for ship brokers and agents.

If you are a ship broker or agent, you need to understand Australian ship registration requirements so you can provide the correct advice to your clients.

Registration of an Australian-owned vessel

Under the Shipping Registration Act 1981, the following Australian owned vessels must be registered:

  • Commercial vessels, 24 metres and over in tonnage length and capable of navigating the high seas.
  • All vessels sailing overseas, regardless of their size.

The following vessels are exempt from the requirement to be registered providing they are not intending to leave an Australian port for an overseas port:

  • Ships less than 24 metres in tonnage length
  • Government ships
  • fishing vessels
  • pleasure craft.

These vessels are permitted to be registered, if the owner wishes to do so. 

If an Australian registered ship is operated by a non-Australian under a demise charter, then it may be granted an exemption from the requirement to be registered for the period of the demise charter. This can be approved by application only.

When an Australian registered vessel is sold, the new owner must notify the Shipping Registration Office (SRO) within fourteen days of the sale, by providing the documents required for a transfer of ownership.

If an Australian buyer does not wish to transfer the vessel into their name, and it is not required to be registered, then the registered owner can close the registration prior to sale, otherwise the buyer must close the registration of the vessel. If the vessel is being sold to a non-Australian, the registered owner must close the registration of the vessel. See below for further details. 

Note: ship registration staff are only permitted to deal with the owner/applicant on ship registration applications. Authorisation can be provided by the owner for a broker to be copied into correspondence, in order to assist with the process, however only a power of attorney may act on the owner’s behalf.

Bill of sale

A bill of sale should be issued by the seller to the buyer. This document must state:

  1. ship name and official number
  2. nature and extent of the interest in the ship to which the bill of sale relates (that is, how many shares are being transferred)
  3. name and address of each transferor (the seller) and transferee (the buyer).

The document must be signed by the seller and witnessed, if not under a corporate seal. An attorney under power may also sign on behalf of an owner.

A correctly completed bill of sale will ensure that these requirements are met.

Registering a vessel

Read more about registering a vessel in the Guide to registering your ship on the Australian General Shipping Register.

The owner (or a power of attorney appointed by the owner) must submit these documents to the SRO:

  1. Application for registration.
  2. Declaration of ownership.
  3. Notice of appointment of registered agent.
  4. Builder’s certificate or a statutory declaration for builder’s certificate.
  5. Bill of sale (original or certified copy). 

Note: a bill of sale cannot be post-dated or issued prior to the date of delivery or sale.

Other documents that may also be required are:

  1. Evidence of ownership history.
  2. Deletion certificate, if previously registered overseas (copy acceptable).
  3. Certificate of handover, if builder’s certificate is submitted prior to completion of build.
  4. Call sign licence (copy acceptable, if applicable).
  5. Demise charter party (copy acceptable, if applicable)
  6. If the vessel has never been registered before and there have been one or more previous owners, the application will need to be accompanied by the full ownership history. This can be provided in a statutory declaration and if the ownership history is unknown the applicant will need to submit a notice of intention to register a ship and provide a statutory declaration stating that they are legally entitled to the ownership of the vessel and the grounds for that belief.

Registering a vessel is a two-step process. When all of the required documentation has been received by the SRO, the name of the vessel will be approved and an official number allocated. A marking note will then be issued to the owner, which has instructions for the marking of the vessel. 

When the markings have been completed in accordance with the instructions, the marking note must be certified by the owner and posted to the SRO. On receipt of this document, the registration can be finalised and the registration certificate issued.

Transferring the registration of an Australian registered vessel

To transfer an Australian registered vessel into the name of an Australian buyer, the following documents must be submitted to the SRO.

  1. Original bill of sale (this must comply with the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981. See our bill of sale template).
  2. Declaration of transfer.
  3. Notice of appointment of registered agent.
  4. Original registration certificate.

Closing a registration

When a ship is sold to a non-Australian, the registered owner must submit to the SRO:

  1. A notice to the registrar of ships requesting closure due to the sale of the vessel to a non-Australian.
  2. The original registration certificate.
  3. A copy of the bill of sale.

If a certificate of deletion is required, the request should be included in the notice. A fee of A$111 applies for the issue of a certificate of deletion.

To close the registration of a ship not required to be registered, where registration is no longer required or where the new owner does not wish to have Australian registration, the legal owner must submit to the SRO:

  1. An application for voluntary closure of registration.
  2. A statutory declaration stating the extent of the applicant’s interest in the vessel (i.e. number of shares owned) and the date on which they acquired that interest in the vessel.
  3. The original registration certificate.

If a certificate of deletion is required, the request should be included in the notice. A fee of A$111 applies for the issue of a certificate of deletion.

Submitting forms

All forms must be submitted in original form. This also applies to supporting documentation, except in some instances for registrations. Applicants need to ensure that all fields on the forms are completed. Failure to do so may result in delays to finalising the application.

Last updated: 26 July 2023