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Shipping Registration Office

We manage the establishment of ownership of vessels and associated records.

The Shipping Registration Office manages the establishment of ownership of vessels, grants certificates, maintains the Australian register of ships, issues continuous synopsis records to ships required to carry them, and provides public access to the Australian shipping register.

The Australian ships register was established on Australia Day, 1982. From this day, ships owned by Australians could be registered in this country. Prior to this they were added to the British Register kept in Australia and registered under the British Merchant Shipping Act 1894.

Before the Australian register was established, successive Australian governments agreed that it was important—both symbolically and in practice—for ships of Australian owners to be recognised at home and abroad as being Australian vessels.

It is the right of every country to determine conditions for the granting of its nationality to ships, under the . Establishing the Australian register of ships was seen as a significant addition to Australia's international status as an independent nation. 

The main purpose of the Shipping Registration Act 1981 and its associated regulations, is to fix the conditions for the registration of ships in Australia and to grant ships Australian nationality. It also lets Australian ships fly the Australian national flag or the Australian red ensign. 

Since the formation of AMSA in 1991, the shipping registration office has been a part of the Authority. 

In 2012 the Shipping Registration Act 1981 was amended to incorporate provisions for the Australian international shipping register. This provides a competitive alternative to other international registers and is available to Australian companies that own or operate ships. 

Related information

Last updated: 12 February 2020