Transferring as a broker
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 to provide the correct advice to your clients and assist with applications.
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 crafts.
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 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, or the vessel is being sold to a non-Australian, the registered owner must close the registration of the vessel.
Bill of sale
A bill of sale should be issued by the seller to the buyer. This document must state:
- ship name and official number
- nature and extent of the interest in the ship to which the bill of sale relates (that is, how many shares are being transferred)
- 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 register.
You must submit these documents to the shipping registration office:
- Application for registration.
- Declaration of ownership.
- Notice of appointment of registered agent.
- Builder’s certificate or a statutory declaration for builder’s certificate.
- Bill of sale (original or certified copy).
Other documents that may also be required are:
- Evidence of ownership history.
- Deletion certificate, if previously registered overseas (copy acceptable).
- Certificate of handover, if registration application submitted prior to completion of build.
- Call sign licence (copy acceptable, if applicable).
- Demise charter party (copy acceptable, if applicable).
Registering a vessel is a two-step process. When all of the required documentation has been received by the shipping registration office, 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 shipping registration office. 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 shipping registration office:
- Original bill of sale (this must comply with the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981. See our bill of sale template).
- Declaration of transfer.
- Notice of appointment of registered agent.
- Original registration certificate.
Closing a registration
When a ship is sold to a non-Australian, the registered owner must submit to the shipping registration office:
- A notice to the registrar of ships requesting closure due to the sale of the vessel to a non-Australian.
- The original registration certificate.
- 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$75 applies for the issue of a certificate of deletion.
To close the registration of a ship not required to be registered, where the buyer does not wish to have Australian registration, the registered owner must submit to the shipping registration office:
- An application for voluntary closure of registration.
- The original registration certificate to the shipping registration office.
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.
All forms must be submitted in original form. This also applies to supporting documentation, except in some instances for registrations. You will need to ensure that all fields on the forms are completed. Failure to do so may result in delays to finalising your application.