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Apply for a temporary pass for yacht races, rallies, and sailing overseas

What to do if you own a yacht and are participating in an international race, rally, or sailing overseas.

When travelling to an overseas port, your Australian-owned vessel (commercial ship, yacht, or other pleasure craft) must be registered on the Australian general shipping register, regardless of its size.

If you are participating in a yacht race or rally, you can register your vessel, or get a temporary pass for the yacht race.

Should I apply for a temporary pass or register on the Australian general shipping register?

If a yacht is participating in an overseas event or wil travel to an overseas port following the event:

The purpose of registration is to register the title of a vessel and to grant Australian nationality to a ship. This record of good title can also be of benefit if an owner wishes to sell their yacht in the future.

Australian Customs will require confirmation of registration prior to granting clearance to depart. International ports generally also require vessels to have some form of national registration prior to granting formal clearance into that country. 

Temporary passes for yacht races

In consultation with Australian Sailing, we will grant temporary passes to unregistered yachts, provided that:

  • the race is conducted by a yachting organisation which is affiliated with Australian Sailing
  • Australian Sailing provides written confirmation of the affiliation and the details of the race and the participants.

There may be other special circumstances where a yacht may be granted a temporary pass for a yacht race. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Application for temporary for yacht races

How to apply for a temporary pass for yacht races:

  1. Each yacht owner will need to make applications for two temporary passes: one for the outgoing voyage, another for the return.
  2. The application forms and fees (a fee is required for each application) should be sent to the Shipping Registration Office.
  3. The race organiser should arrange for Australian Sailing to provide a confirmatory letter to the Shipping Registration Office.
  4. If the race is not an Australian Sailing event, a letter setting out the need for a temporary pass should be provided to the Shipping Registration Office.

It may be convenient for the race organiser to collect the applications, fees and the Australian Sailing letter, or letter from the race organiser and send them in a batch to the Shipping Registration Office. Contact the event organiser for further details.

Vessels wanting to undertake commercial operations during, or after, the race

Registration will apply Australian nationality to the vessel, however, where the yacht has domestic commercial certification it does not allow it to operate commercially beyond the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Australia.

Where a vessel wishes to undertake commercial operations:

  • during a yacht race beyond the EEZ of Australia
  • Before competing in a yacht race beyond the EEZ of Australia.

The vessel will be required to hold the relevant certification, and comply with relevant manning requirements, of the Navigation Act 2012 for such vessels. See removing regulated Australian vessel status.

Registration fees—current at 30 June 2017                                                         

Registration type Fee A$
Temporary pass (two required for a return journey)  $333
Application for registration (for ship permitted to be registered) $1554
Registration of transfer of ownership (for ship permitted to be registered) $444
Grant of replacement registration certificate $222

Owners of registered yachts should make sure that their registration details are current and that their ownership of the vessel is registered with the Shipping Registration Office. The registration certificate must be carried on board the ship. The Shipping Registration Office can provide forms for the transfer of ownership and the granting of replacement certificates if required.

Questions about yacht registration

How much does it cost to register my yacht?

For vessels under 24 metres in tonnage length the fee for registration is A$1554.  This is a one-off fee, and registration remains current until there is a change of ownership.

What documents are required to demonstrate ownership of the vessel?

If the ship has been registered in Australia, the ownership document is a bill of sale from the registered owner to the new owner.

If the ship has been registered overseas, the ownership document is any document that is evidence of title to the ship under the overseas registration law.

If the ship has never been registered, the ownership document is:

  1. a builder’s certificate and the transfer documents for any change of ownership of the ship
  2. if those documents are unavailable and the ship was built and acquired by the owner, outside Australia—the document by which the ship’s owner acquired the ownership of the ship.

If the owner, after taking all reasonable action, cannot obtain the required documentation, the ownership document is:

  1. a statutory declaration by the applicant that gives the history of the ownership of the ship
  2. if the history is unknown, both of the following documents:
    • a statutory declaration by the applicant stating that the applicant believes that the person who is named in the application as the ship’s owner is lawfully entitled to the ownership of the ship and stating the grounds for that belief
    • evidence that, at least 30 days before the application was lodged with the registrar, a notice of intention to apply for the registration of the ship was published in the Gazette.

What do I need to include my radio call sign on my registration?

Radio call signs are issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. To include the radio call sign on your registration you will need to provide a copy of your call sign licence with your application for registration.

Can permanent Australian residents register on the Australian general shipping register?

If the vessel is:

  • less than 12 metres in length—it can be registered if the majority shareholder is a permanent Australian resident.
  • over 12 metres in length—it is only eligible for registration if it is majority owned by an Australian national or Australian incorporated company.

When state registration also requires Australian registration

If you have state registration, you must have Australian registration prior to departure if you’re planning to undertake an overseas voyage with your vessel in any of the following circumstances:

  • from an Australian port to a foreign port
  • a foreign port to another foreign port
  • a foreign port to an Australian port.

Without an Australian registration certificate, you will not be able to clear customs.

Priority registration

If you need your registration processed ahead of the queue an additional fee is payable of 50 per cent of the lodgement fee. The priority service will make sure that your application will be processed as soon as it has been received by the office. Documents can also be checked prior to you sending them to ensure that they are correct. To take advantage of this service, contact the Shipping Registration Office for further details.

How do you want to comply?

Register my vessel

If you are likely to be participating in more than one overseas event, or will travel to other overseas ports following the event, your will need to register your vessel. 

Registering your vessel grants Australian nationality to a ship and can also benefit you if you wish to sell your yacht in the future, as good title to the vessel is assured.

You will need to provide confirmation of your registration to Australian Customs prior to granting clearance to depart. International ports will also need some form of national registration prior to granting formal clearance into that country.

Begin registering your vessel.

Get a temporary pass

If your yacht is unregistered and you want to participate in races between an Australian port and a foreign port, we, in consultation with Australian Sailing, can grant temporary passes. To be eligible for a temporary pass:

  • the race must be conducted by a yachting organisation which is affiliated with Australian Sailing.
  • Australian Sailing must provide written confirmation of the affiliation and the details of the race and the participants

You will need:

  • One temporary pass is needed for the outgoing voyage and another pass is needed for any return voyage.
  • The application forms to can be collected by the race organiser. They can be delivered on behalf of yacht owners or operators and sent to us as a bulk lot to the shipping registration office.

We assess applications on a case by case basis. There may be other special circumstances where a yacht may be granted a temporary pass for a yacht race.

What do I need to do?

To get a temporary pass, you need to:

Last updated: 

Thursday 16 November 2017