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  • Recreational boat registration
    All ships that are used entirely for private recreation with an engine of 3kw or more are required to be registered if they are on the water.

  • Commercial ships operating in Queensland
    All ships used that are not used entirely for private recreation, used in connection with any commercial, government or research activity require certification under the National Law or Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation to operate in Queensland. This includes ships used where no direct fees are received (for example ships used at resorts).

Related information

Capacity labels

All registrable recreational boats, with the exception of sailing ships, must have either a compliant Australian Builders Plate (ABP) or the required capacity labels attached. Capacity labels and ABPs should be placed near the boat's control area/s where they can be seen by the operator at all times.

You can get a fine if you operate without a capacity label or it is located in the wrong position.

When you are preparing for a trip, the skipper is responsible for assessing the load on board—both people and objects. Keep in mind that the label indicates the number of people the boat can safely carry in good conditions and smooth waters. If you're using a boat in partially smooth waters, open waters or in rough conditions, consider reducing the number of people taken on the trip.

Capacity labels can be purchased through a number of suppliers such as marine chandleries. Businesses or individuals interested in producing capacity labels should comply with the following capacity label printing specifications:

Australian Builders Plate

The Australian Builders Plate (ABP) is a national initiative to make boating safer by providing vital information about the capacity, capability and limitations of boats. The ABP requires boat builders, importers or competent persons to clearly display information about a vessel’s operational capabilities in a standard format.

Penalties apply for selling vessels without an ABP.

For more information about the ABP contact Australia, New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group. For more information about getting an Australian Builders Plate contact Marine Queensland or the Boating Industries Alliance Australia.

Ride Smart stickers

All personal watercraft (PWC) must also have a Ride Smart sticker visible to the operator at all times (along with a capacity label).

Ride Smart stickers can be purchased through a number of suppliers such as marine chandleries. Businesses or individuals interested in producing capacity labels must comply with the RideSmart label printing specifications.

Safety management system

A safety management system (SMS) is how vessel owners and operators identify and manage risks, outline emergency and maintenance procedures and establish a culture of safety on board. Most commercial ships are required under either Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 (TOMSA) or the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (the national law) to have an SMS in accordance with National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part E.

Existing commercial ships from Queensland that are now regulated under the national system have been required to keep an SMS compliant with NSCV Part E since 2010—this was a condition of their registration under TOMSA. Owners of these vessels must review their SMS annually and keep it up to date to ensure their vessel continues to be operated safely.

Owners and masters of new domestic commercial vessels, which started operations after the beginning of the national law on 1 July 2013, are required to establish and implement an SMS for vessel operations. 

To assist commercial vessel owners and operators to comply with NSCV Part E, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has developed Guidelines on the Implementation of the National Standard for Commercial Vessels Part E.

Owners and masters must make sure the safety management system is:

  • developed, maintained and kept up to date to reflect operational risks
  • on board the ship (or on shore if it impractical to carry all documents on board)
  • accessible to the ship's crew and the ship's crew is trained and familiar with the SMS, in particular the operational and emergency.

NSCV Part E requires that every commercial vessel keep a log book as a complementary record of the daily operations of the ship to demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements.

Ship insurance

All ships over 15m, including those visiting Queensland waters, must have insurance to cover potential pollution clean up, salvage and wreck removal. Find more information about ship insurance requirements in Queensland.

Last updated
07 April 2016