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Exemptions, temporary passes, certificates of non-registration, and entitlement to fly flag.

Exemption from the requirement to be registered

If your Australian owned vessel is chartered to a foreign operator, the vessel can be exempted from the requirement to be registered.

A vessel can only hold registration in one country. The owner can suspend a registration while the vessel is chartered.

Temporary passes

If your vessel is entitled to be registered, but is not currently registered, it will not be allowed to leave an Australian port for an international destination. Customs officials will not issue an unregistered vessel with a certificate of clearance. A temporary pass may be issued in some circumstances. Alternatively a, provisional registration can be arranged so your vessel can start a voyage before the registration procedure has been completed.

Your vessel will not be allowed to leave a foreign port where there is an Australian diplomatic representative unless it has either been registered or issued with a provisional registration certificate.

If you are travelling between a foreign port and an Australian port (or vice versa), or from one foreign port to another, you can be issued with a temporary pass.

The temporary pass is issued only under special circumstances, and will show where and when the ship is authorised to travel.

You can also obtain a temporary pass if you have an unregistered vessel participating in a yacht race.

Certificate of entitlement to fly flag

If you have a registered commercial ship over 24 metres in tonnage length, you must fly the Australian Red Ensign. For any other registered ship, you have the choice of flying either the Australian National Flag or the Red Ensign.

If your ship is unregistered, you can get a certificate allowing you to fly either flag.

You might be allowed to fly other flags in Australian waters including:

  • a state or territory flag
  • a flag or ensign authorised by warrant under the Flags Act 1953
  • the British Blue Ensign if you have a warrant valid under British law.

Exemption from the requirement to be registered

What do I need to do?

To apply for an exemption from the requirement to be registered, you need to:

Temporary passes

If your ship is unregistered, you can apply for a temporary pass for travel between Australian and foreign ports, or from one foreign port to another.

A temporary pass can be issued under special circumstances. It will show where and when you are authorised to travel.

What do I need to do?

To apply for a temporary pass, you need to:

Certificate of non-registration

What do I need to do?

If your vessel has never been registered on the Australian shipping register and you can provide proof that it has never been registered, you can apply for a certificate of non-registration .

To apply, you need to:

Certificate of entitlement to fly flag

If your registered commercial ship is 24 metres and over in tonnage length, it must fly the Australian Red Ensign. All other registered ships can fly either the Australian national flag or the red ensign.

If your ship is not registered but you want to fly either flag, you will need a certificate of entitlement. A certificate of entitlement lets you fly the Australian national flag or red ensign in Australian waters.

Read more about national colours for Australian ships (flags).

What do I need to do?

If you need a certificate to fly the national flag and the red ensign, you need to: