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Shipowner Eligibility 

To be eligible for registration, vessels must be majority owned by Australian nationals, either individual persons or bodies corporate. Each ship is divided into sixty-four shares; each share may be jointly owned by up to five owners. Shares may also be owned in common. Foreign owned ships may be registered in Australia, provided they are demise or bare-boat chartered to an Australian operator. In this case, foreign registration must be closed or at least suspended.

About the Flag

A continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, Australia is a federal parliamentary state headed by the British Queen represented by a local Governor General. A Prime Minister is the head of government. English and aboriginal languages are spoken, and the capital is Canberra. The legal system is based on English common law. Australia is a member of the United Nations, the IMO, the Commonwealth of Nations, and OECD.

Company Formation

When a company is incorporated under the Corporations Law, it is automatically registered as an Australian company and need not register in an individual state or territory. A new company may be either a proprietary company or public company.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has many regional offices which provide information on company formation and obligations. These centers are wonderfully responsive and provide lots of simple and easy to understand information.

To form a corporation, the first step is to reserve a name by lodging form 410 (Application for Reservation of a Name) with the ASIC. It is advisable to consult the alphabetic listing of current company and business names which is available at ASIC Business Centers. Next, the Memorandum for a proprietary company must be clearly printed and divided into numbered paragraphs stating the name of the proposed company; the liability of the members is limited (or another provision depending on the type of company); the amount of share capital with which the company proposes to be registered and the division of that share capital into shares of a fixed amount; the subscribers' full names, addresses, and occupations (a company must have at least one subscriber); and that the subscribers wish to form a company and agree to take a stated number of shares in the capital of the company. Next, the Articles of Association should be drawn up which formally state the rules governing the management of a company. "Proprietary Company Provisions" must be included in either the Memorandum or Articles of Association; they state that the company must have no more than 50 non-employee shareholders and must not engage in any activity that would require the lodgment of a prospectus. All subscribers must sign and date the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and their signatures must be witnessed by a person who is not a subscriber. The full name and address of the witness must be clearly shown. Each proposed director must then consent in writing to be appointed by the subscribers. A director must be at least 18 years of age. The Memorandum, Articles, and Declarations must be kept with the company's records and are not lodged with the application for incorporation.

Next, the Form 201, Application for Registration as a Company, must be lodged with the prescribed fee at any ASIC Business Center, with a local ASIC representative, or by mail to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The form includes the proposed name of the company, class and type of company, registered office details, principal business office details, share capital details, and details of the subscribers to the Memorandum. If the registered office is not to be occupied by the company but by a solicitor or accountant, written consent of the occupier must be obtained, but not submitted, and kept with the company records. The Form 201 must be signed by each subscriber and the signatures witnessed. After the application has been received and processed, the ASIC will issue a Certificate of Incorporation. Within one month after incorporation, a company must lodge Form 215, Notification of Initial Appointment of Officeholders, showing the details of its directors and secretaries.

A proprietary company must have at least one director and one secretary who must live in Australia.


Sections 129 to 135A comprise Division 12 of the Australian Income Tax Assessment Act. This Division provides a code for the assessment of income derived by a person who owns or charters a ship and whose principal place of business is not in Australia. A shipowner is able to opt out of Division 12 by making an election under subsection 57AM(29) which results in all of the income derived by a particular ship becoming assessable in Australia. The provisions of Division 12 are also modified by the terms of double taxation agreements. Section 129 of Division 12 provides that where a ship belonging to or chartered by a person whose principal place of business is outside of Australia carries passengers, livestock, mails, or goods shipping in Australia, five percent of the amount paid or payable to him in respect of such carriage, whether the amount is payable in or out of Australia, shall be assessed. Basically, these state that the master of the ship is liable to make a return and is liable to pay the resulting Assessment.

Section 135 states that a collector or officer of customs shall not grant a clearance to the ship until he is satisfied that any tax which has been or may be assessed under this Division has been paid or that arrangements for its payment have been made to the satisfaction of the Commissioner.

Section 135A deals with freights payable under certain agreements. It applies where in consideration of periodic sailings to be provided by shipowners, shippers agree to ship exclusively by vessels owned by shipowners. These agreements include a gross amount for shipping and a rebate in respect of the carriage of the goods. It is the net amount of these which is subject to tax. Resident companies are subject to tax at a rate of 36%. In the case of a partnership, profits are subject to tax after they have been distributed to the individual partners. This amount is included in the taxable income of the individual and is subject to a different marginal rate which is dependent upon the individual's total income.

Countries with which Australian has double taxation agreements are Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Malaysia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

For further information regarding taxation of revenue generated from ships on the International Register please consult the DIT website.

Registration and Documentation

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority Shipping Registration Office (AMSA) processes all registration applications and handles all matters regarding registration. The following documents are required for registration:
Declaration of Ownership and Nationality
Notice of appointment of registered Agent
Document describing the ship (Builder's Certificate, statutory declaration by a person acquainted with the facts stating the prescribed particulars of the ship, a foreign registration certificate, etc.)
Documents giving evidence of ownership (Builder's Certificate, Bill of Sale, title documents, court orders, any documents that are evidence of title under the law of the country of previous registry, etc.)
Tonnage Certificate for vessels over 24 meters in tonnage length intending to sail internationally
Call Sign License for the ship's main radio station (to be recorded if it has been allocated to the ship)
Marking Note, signed and witnessed
Deletion Certificate or evidence of closure of foreign registration if the ship was last registered under foreign law
Application for Endorsement of Master on Registration Certificate (necessary only if the ship is to go on international voyages)
Certificate of Incorporation if the owner, charterer, or agent is a body corporate
Power of Attorney if any document has been signed under power or written authority by an agent on behalf of a person

Original documents must be submitted; photocopies or faxes of the application documents are not acceptable. However, the document describing the ship and the Four Letter Call Sign License may be certified copies. Australian Registration Certificates have no expiry date other than upon closure of registration. However, they must be amended or replaced whenever registered information reflected therein is changed. Application documents may be lodged at the AMSA offices or an Australian diplomatic mission for forwarding to AMSA. Australian diplomatic missions are authorized to grant Provisional Registration Certificates only. A Provisional Registration Certificate may be granted if an unregistered ship becomes entitled to be registered while abroad, if it is to depart from an Australian port to a place outside Australian or if its Registration Certificate has been lost. Applications for provisional registration include:
Completed application form
Instrument, if any by which ownership of the ship passed to the person named as owner in the application
Tonnage Certificate, if any, that is in force in relation to the ship
Where the application is signed by the master of the ship, documentary evidence of his appointment as master and of his authority to sign the application

Where the ship has at any time been registered under the law of a foreign country, documentary evidence that the ship is no longer registered under that law or documentary evidence that steps have been taken or are proposed to be taken to close the registration of the ship under the law of that country on or before the granting of the Australian provisional registration

Provisional Registration Certificates are valid for six months from the date of issuance or until the ship arrives in an Australian port, whichever is sooner. If necessary, the owner or master may apply for an extension.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Australian law allows for the Australian registration of foreign ships that are demise chartered to Australian operators based in Australia. The requirements for Australian registration are the same as for other ships but a copy of the demise charter and a declaration by the charterer are also required.
Australian law also provides for the foreign registration of Australian owned ships that are demise chartered to foreigners. The requirements are:
Application for exemption from the requirements to be registered
Copy of the demise charter
Application for closure of the Australian registration
Australian Registration Certificate
Undertaking that the ship will be registered under the registration law of a foreign country
Lodgment fee

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

All ships capable of navigating the high seas are eligible for registration, including barges, floating structures and air-cushion vehicles used primarily in navigation. All Australian-owned vessels are required to be registered when leaving Australia for an overseas port. Ships of less than 12 meters in length overall which are wholly owned or operated by Australian residents or by Australian nationals and residents together may be registered as well. The age or tonnage of a ship is not a criterion for registration.
Survey matters whether for tonnage or other purposes are the responsibility of the Maritime Operations branch of AMSA. Ships registered in Australia and trading interstate or internationally are required to comply with the requirements of the Australian Navigation Act and the Marine Orders with regard to survey and certification matters. The Navigation Act and the Marine Orders give effect to the various IMO Conventions (SOLAS, Load Line, MARPOL, STCW, etc.). AMSA has a Memorandum of Understanding with six classification societies to conduct certain delegated functions on their behalf. AMSA undertakes audits and issues certificates under the ISM Code. Other statutory ship surveys and certification is delegated to the recognised classification societies. There is no delegation of authority to class societies regarding the STCW Conventions. The following classification societies are recognized:
American Bureau of Shipping
Bureau Veritas
Germanischer Lloyd
Lloyd's Register of Shipping


The licensing requirements for officers and crews of ships engaged in international trades are the responsibility of Maritime Operations business unit of AMSA. Australian registered vessels are manned with holders of Australian Certificates of Competency. Certificates are issued in compliance with the Australian Marine Orders and the STCW Convention 1978 as amended in 1995 and 1997 (STCW95).
Minimum manning scales are established in compliance with the Navigation Act, the Marine Orders, SOLAS 1974 as amended, and in particular IMO Resolution A.890 (21).

Crews in Australian registered ships are mainly employed under the Maritime Industry Seagoing Award 1999 made by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.


Mortgages are recorded in the Shipping Registration Office upon submission of the original mortgage instrument and the appropriate fee. After registration, the mortgage instrument is returned to the lodging party bearing an official stamp showing that the mortgage has been registered. Mortgages must include the official number of the ship; the ship's registered name; the mortgagor's name and address; the mortgagee's name, address, and nationality; and the number of shares mortgaged.

There are no nationality restrictions for mortgagees although the law still requires a mortgagee's nationality to be declared. The law provides that a first priority mortgagee has a right to dispose of a ship subject to no other party. Consequently, the Registrar is obliged to recognize a Bill of Sale or Deed of Transfer executed by the mortgagee. More than one mortgage may be registered, and they are given priority in accordance with the order in which the mortgages are registered. A discharge of mortgage can be registered on the lodgment of a memorandum of discharge endorsed on or firmly affixed to the original registered mortgage instrument and the lodgment fee.

After registration of the discharge, the mortgage instrument and memorandum are returned to the lodging party. These documents bear an official stamp showing that the discharge has been registered.


Lodging application for registration or re-registration of:
(a) Ship required to be registered (24m or more in tonnage length)
(b) Ship permitted to be registered other than ship referred to in (c): (Ship less than 24 m, government ship, pleasure craft or fishing vessel)
(c) Ship on demise charter to an Australian based operator other than an Australian owned ship
Lodging application for grant of provisional registration certificate under section 22 or 22A of the Shipping Registration Act
Lodging application for extension of period of currency of provisional certificate
Application for Continuous Synopsis Record
Amendments to the Continuous Synopsis Record
Re-Issue of a Continuous Synopsis Record
Lodging documents for registration of transfer or transmission of ownership in relation to:
(a) Ship required to be registered
(b) ship permitted to be registered** other than ship referred to in (c)
(c) ship on demise charter to an Australian based operator other than an Australian owned ship
Lodging application for grant of temporary pass
Lodging request for approval of change of name of registered ship
Lodging request for change of home port of registered ship
Lodging application for grant of new registration certificate or new provisional registration certificate or under section 21 of the Shipping Registration Act (replacement certificate)
Supply of deletion certificate
Lodging application for issue of certificate of entitlement to fly Australian national flag or red ensign
Lodging documents for registration of Mortgage, transfer of mortgage or transmission of mortgage in relation to:
(a) ship required to be registered*
(b) ship permitted to be registered** other than ship referred to in (c)
(c) ship on demise charter to an Australian based operator other than an Australian owned ship
Lodging documents for registration of discharge of mortgage
Lodging caveat
Lodging request for extension of time for lodging documents
Lodging application for exemption from registration
Inspection of register in relation to a registered ship
Supply of certified extract of the Register or of a document forming part of or associated with the Register:
- by email or by facsimile or by post
- by email and/or by facsimile and/or by post
Supply of certified copy of Register entry:
- by facsimile or by post
- by facsimile and by post
Supply of certified copy of documents forming part of or associated with the Register, for each page
- by email or by facsimile or by post
- by email and/or by facsimile and/or by post


Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Visiting Address:
Level 3
82 Northbourne Avenue
Braddon Act 2612

Postal Address:
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
G.P.O. Box 2181
Canberra City Act 2601

Contact Numbers:
Deputy Registrar of Ships: [61] (2) 62795921

The Registrar of Ships
Shipping Registration Office
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 255
Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

Courier Address:
Level 2, 28 Gordon Street
Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

Tel: (02) 6279 5925

Department of Infrastructure and Transport
Visiting Address:
111 Alinga Street
Canberra City Act 2601

Postal Address:
GPO Box 594
Canberra Act 2601
Tel: [61] (2) 6274 7111


Stockholm Agreement 96
IMO Convention 48
* IMO amendments 91 
* IMO amendments 93
SOLAS Convention 74
SOLAS Protocol 78
SOLAS Protocol 88
LOAD LINES Convention 66
LOAD LINES Protocol 88
TONNAGE Convention 69
COLREG  Convention 72
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
STCW  Convention 78
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR  Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT amendments 94
INMARSAT amendments 98
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V)
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92
FUND Convention 71
FUND Protocol 92
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III)
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC  Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Australia

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x
SOLAS Agreement 96
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72 x
CSC amendments 93 x
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76 x
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008 x
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x
London Convention 72 x
London Convention Protocol 96 x
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76 x
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76 x
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76 d
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89 x
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x: Accession/ratification
d: Denunciation

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