Heading offshore?  Get your boat Aussie-registered in 5 easy steps

You’ve got dreamy tropical isles on your mind, but before the offshore adventure can begin there’s a slightly baffling bureaucratic process to navigate.

The first step for any locally registered Australian-owned boat is to get yours on the Australian Registrar of Ships. 

1. Download 3 forms 

No Australian-owned vessel can get clearance to leave Australia without having an Australian registration certificate.

AMSA (the Australian Marine Safety Authority) is the government agency tasked with handling the paperwork, so click here www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/ship-registration and download the following forms:

– Application for Registration (form 168)

– Declaration of Ownership (form 208)

– Notice of Appointment of Registered Agent (form 157)

2. Prove your boat’s history 

If you have a Builder’s Certificate, a Bill of Sale, and can confirm the complete history of your boat’s previous ownership from the initial build to now, supply all this documentation with the completed forms above and move on to step 4.

3. No boat history: 3 forms & a 30-day wait

Documenting the history of any pre-loved vessel can be tricky but if your boat’s heritage is largely unknown, AMSA has a pathway around this.

Bear in mind – and this is that part that can throw sailing plans into awry – you need to settle in for a month-long wait. 

If you don’t have a builder’s certificate, complete what’s called a ‘Statutory Declaration for Builders Certificate’, and have it witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. You can find this form here: www.amsa.gov.au/forms/statutory-declaration-builders-certificate

If your Bill of Sale is not appropriately witnessed (i.e. written on a piece of paper in a boatyard) and/or the ownership history of your boat is incomplete or unknown, you’ll need to do two things. 

Firstly, supply a statutory declaration stating your grounds to claim ownership of the vessel.

This simply means writing down everything you know of your boat’s past, for example, when it was built, where, by whom, who you bought it from, when you purchased it and for how much, etc.

Just record whatever details you can provide, and then have your statutory declaration witnessed by a Justice of the Peace.

You can use the Commonwealth of Australia statutory declaration found here: www.amsa.gov.au/forms/commonwealth-statutory-declaration

In addition, you will need to lodge a ‘Notice of Intention to Register a Ship’ found here: www.amsa.gov.au/forms/notice-intention-register-ship

After submitting this notice, AMSA will advertise your intention to claim your vessel as your own.

If no one comes forward within 30 days, your vessel will be officially declared yours for the purposes of international sailing.

4. Pay fees & lodge your paperwork

All paperwork must be lodged via post to: Australian Maritime Safety Authority Shipping Registration Office, PO Box 255, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450.

If sending via courier: Australian Maritime Safety Authority Shipping Registration Office, Level 2, 28 Gordon St, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450. 

Australian registration (for recreational craft under 24 metres) currently costs $1554.

This is a one-off fee for the duration of your ownership.

If you don’t like the name of your boat, now is the time to change it (AMSA charges $111).

Payments can be made via cheque, credit card or direct deposit. 

5. Mark your boat

After your registration has been approved, AMSA will send you a marking note, with instructions on how to appropriately mark your vessel with its new registration name and number.

Marking is simply the process of inscribing permanently into your boat, your Australian Registration number and the length overall (LOA) of your vessel (on the bulkhead of your boat), your ship’s name on each bow, and your boat’s name and home port on the stern.

The marking note must be signed, witnessed and returned to AMSA by mail.

Upon receipt of the marking note, your registration certificate will be sent (by mail), and you can move forward with plans to gain Australian Border Force clearance and sail away!