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Register a vessel on the Australian general shipping register

Ships registered on the Australian general shipping register have Australian nationality.

Registration of a vessel on the Australian general shipping register provides legally and internationally recognisable nationality to your ship. When registered, you will have access to Australian protection on the high seas and in foreign ports.

In addition to ship registration, a vessel may require certification in accordance with:

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.

These 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.

Read more about the definition of an Australian owned ship.

Australian registered recreational vessels may also require state registration. For more information, contact your local state marine safety agency. 

The Australian international shipping register is open to Australian owned or operated, international trading ships which meet specific criteria. Read more about which ships are eligible to register on the Australian international shipping register.

Recreational vessels 

If you intend sailing your recreational vessel overseas from:

  • an Australian port to a foreign port
  • a foreign port to a foreign port
  • a foreign port to an Australian port

You must register your vessel on the Australian general shipping register before you leave. 

Recreational vessels on international voyages are also required to comply with certain marine orders.

Domestic commercial vessels

If you own a domestic commercial vessel over 24 metres tonnage length you must register it on the Australian general shipping register. Registration of a vessel on the Australian general shipping register does not automatically permit you to undertake commercial or recreational operations. You can contact AMSA if you have questions about certification requirements for commercial vessels.

How to register your vessel

Please contact the Shipping Registration Office by email for registration requirements for your vessel.

If your vessel has previously been registered on the Australian General Shipping Register, the registration process is slightly different to the process described below. Please include the official number for the vessel when you contact the Shipping Registration Office for information.

The following is required to register your vessel.

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1. Confirm your ship is eligible

Your ship is eligible if it fits one of these categories:

  • It is Australian owned
  • It is on demise charter to an Australian based operator
  • It is less than 12 metres in length, owned or operated by an Australian resident.
2. Provide required forms and documents

You will need to send us the following:

Notes:

Notice of appointment of registered agent form

This must be completed. By law, each vessel on the Australian general shipping register must have a registered agent. This is the person responsible for the day-to-day management of the vessel. The agent can be the owner.

Builder’s certificate

The builder of the vessel should complete the builder's certificate. If the builder can’t complete this (they may have gone out of business or you cannot contact them) then a person skilled at describing a ship can complete the statutory declaration for builder's certificate instead. You must give us a full description of the vessel.

The statutory declaration can be completed by you, a boat builder, surveyor, shipwright or any other individual skilled at describing a vessel.  

The statutory declaration must be witnessed by someone on the list of authorised witnesses and who has a connection to Australia.  Refer to the Attorney-General’s Department website for more information. 

Ownership history

If the vessel was built or first acquired in Australia, we need the ownership history from the build to the current owner(s). Specific advice can be provided by the SRO when the circumstances of a ship's acquisition are known.

If the owner, after taking all reasonable action, can’t get the evidence of ownership, we will accept a statutory declaration by the applicant that gives the history of the ownership of the ship.

If the history is unknown, provide both the following documents:

  • 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.
  • A notice of intention to register a ship
3. Provide supporting documents

There may be other documents, certificates and forms you need to complete. If any of the documents listed below apply to you, make sure you include them in your application:

  • Tonnage certificate—for commercial vessels 24 metres and over in tonnage length.
  • Copy of a call sign licence (if you have been issued with one)
  • Evidence of closure on the foreign register (if your vessel has been registered on one).

If another person is signing on behalf of the owner, you will need to provide:

  • proof of power of attorney
  • written authority to sign.

For vessels applying for a demise charter registration, you will need to provide:

4. Pay fees

Application fees are payable when you lodge an application. These fees are non-refundable. Learn more about shipping registration fees and payment options.

5. Send us your application

Send your forms and supporting documentation to our postal or street address (for courier deliveries):

  • Postal—Australian Maritime Safety Authority Shipping Registration Office, PO Box 255, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450.
  • Courier—Australian Maritime Safety Authority Shipping Registration Office, Level 2, 28 Gordon St, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450.

You must include payment with your application.

6.  Wait for us to let you know

We will let you know if we need more information. If we have everything we need and your application has been completed correctly, we will send you a marking note with instructions on how to mark your vessel.

7. Mark your vessel

Once you have marked your vessel, the marking note issued by the SRO must be signed by the owner and witnessed. Return the original to the Shipping Registration Office along with any outstanding documents we have requested.

You have 6 months to complete the registration process. If you can’t complete your application within this time, you can apply for an extension. Fees apply for applications for extension of time.

8. Registration completed

On receipt of the signed marking note and any outstanding documentation, we will finalise the registration of your ship and send you the registration certificate. The original certificate must be kept aboard the vessel.

Last updated: 22 January 2024