Buying a Boat

Boat Registration: How to Register a Boat in Australia

Having a boat is a significant investment in Australia. Due to its high value, the government strongly recommend boat owners to consider registering their vessels to protect such assets while enjoying a multitude of benefits that go along with it.

Why You Need to Register Your Boat

The registration of a vessel provides the boat with a nationality. Although not legally mandated unless the watercraft will charter international waters, doing so can benefit the owner in different aspects.

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), a registered boat has the protection of the Australian government, especially when it voyages in foreign ports and high seas.

It also allows the vessel to become a significant property that can be used for mortgages with banks and other financial institutions. Such entities require borrowers to register their vessel that are intended to be uses as security for a loan.

What Vessels Should Be Registered

Recreational watercraft should be registered, especially if the captain of the ship intends to sail from an Australian port to a foreign port; from one foreign port to another; or from a foreign port to an Australian port. Boat owners with this kind of vessels are also required to follow marine orders when going on international voyages.

Moreover, yacht owners who plan to participate in races overseas should either acquire a temporary pass or be officially included in the Australian general shipping register.

Domestic commercial watercraft, on the other hand, should be registered on the Australian general shipping register on the condition that the vessel is more than 24 meters tonnage in length. However, doing so doesn’t necessarily allow the owner to use his watercraft in recreational or commercial operations.

Transfer of Ownership

Once a boat has been registered, a transfer of ownership should be done when it is procured by another owner. To change ownership of a vessel under Australian law, the buyer must:

  1. Apply for a title extract. This process can be done at the Shipping Registration Office. The document should let you know all the pertinent details about the boat, including registered ownership and caveats if any.
  2. Check if the seller is the registered owner of the vessel. If not, the buyer should make sure that the person is entitled to be the registered owner and seek documents and fees for the registration of previously unregistered owners to complete the chain of title.
  3. Ensure necessary documents are provided by the seller. This includes the bill of sale and original registration for the watercraft.

How To Register A Boat (Per State)

In general, vessels that are powered by a motor should be registered under their respective states. While the process is quite straightforward, it varies from one state to another. Here are some important things you need to know about boat registration in the 6 states of Australia:

1. Boat Registration in New South Wales

Vessels with engines running on 5 horsepower, those measuring at least 5.5 meters, those subject to mooring license, and all personal watercraft should be registered with the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services.

2. Boat Registration in Queensland

Boats powered by a 3-kilowatt engine should be registered under the Queensland Maritime Safety if they are sailing on state waters. Recreational boats should be tagged as such while those used for other purposes should be registered as prescribed by the governing body.

3. Boat Registration in Victoria

Boats and personal watercraft with or are built to make use of engine propulsion should be registered under the Victoria Roads Corporation. Moreover, registration should be renewed every 12 months.

4. Boat Registration in South Australia

All engine-propelled vessels, as well as sailing or rowboats with auxiliary engine traveling the state waters, should be registered with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet of South Australia. Canoes and kayaks built with electric motors are exempted.

5. Boat Registration in Western Australia

All recreational boats powered by a motor that travel within state waters should be registered with the Western Australia Department of Transport. This also applies to vessels that can be fitted with electric motors as well as sailboats. However, recreational tenders are exempted from these rules.

Boats with valid registration from another state have a grace period of three months while those from the Northern Territory are given 30 days before they shall be subjected to the same regulations.

6. Boat Registration in Tasmania

Owners of all recreational vessels and personal watercraft propelled by a motor with at least 4 horsepower are required to register at the Marine and Safety Tasmania. Those with valid registration from another state would be covered under the same regulations if staying in the state permanently.

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