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By No owner — last modified Mar 15, 2017 11:57 AM

 Australia - Formalities

Clearance

The ports of entry all have 24-hour service. There are severe penalties for stopping anywhere else before clearing in, up to an Aus$50,000 fine. One should fly the Q flag as soon as one enters Australian territorial waters.

See the Australian Government's Information for Arriving Yachts.

There are particularly strict rules concerning stops in any of the islands in the Torres Strait. The area is under constant surveillance by Customs planes. If an emergency stop is made at one of the islands, no one must land or have contact with any other vessel. As this is an international waterway, vessels are allowed to transit without clearing into Australia provided the above rules are observed. The nearest port of entry is at Thursday Island.

Notice of Arrival

By law the captain must give notice of arrival between 96 hours and 90 days before arrival.
This can be done by:
- sending an email to yachtreport@border.gov.au
- sending a fax to +61 2 6275 5078
- phoning  +61 2 6246 1325.

You will need to provide the following information:
- The name of your yacht;
- Intended first port of arrival;
- Estimated arrival time;
- Last four ports;
- Details of people on board including name, date of birth, nationality and passport number;
- Details of any illness or disease recently encountered;
- If you have any animals on board;
- If you have any firearms on board.
Request a confirmation and print it out for reference.

Australian Border Force does realise that not all vessels are fitted with the latest communications equipment and therefore it may not be possible to e-mail from on board. This requirement seems to cause confusion as people interpret it as notification must be given 96 hours prior to arrival. This is not the case. This is the minimum requirement. Therefore a skipper can report his impending arrival in Australia prior to departing his previous port up to 90 days before his expected arrival in Australia.

If by chance the vessel arrives prior to lapsing of the 96 hours of arrival it can wait out the time anywhere it is safe to do so. If due to dangerous seas, or there is a medical emergency etc., then the vessel is able to progress to a safe haven or the Boarding Station.

Since this new regulation came into force in 2006 several yacht captains have been taken to court for failure to comply with this regulation. However, it is important to note that not being able or choosing to change your notified port of arrival is NOT against the regulations as long as you arrive at an official Port of Entry. The Australian Border Force (Customs) does appreciate prior notification of the change, if it is possible.

Clearance at the Port of Entry

At the port of entry, clearance is done by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and Department of Agriculture(AQIS). (Note the new fees. See Fees section below). They may require a list of ship's stores, dutiable items and information about any animals on board as well as the previous port clearance and the usual crew list and official papers.

Every person on board must have a valid visa, otherwise the captain will be fined Aus$1000 for every person arriving without a visa, including the captain himself. Everyone must remain on board until clearance is completed.

On arrival the captain must complete an arrival report".

Clearing Out

Clearing out can only be done at one of the ports of entry. The documents needed to get Customs clearance are passports, crew list, list of ship's stores and registration certificate. Australian yachts must be registered before leaving Australia.

After clearing out, one is not allowed to stop at any other places, but anchoring for the night or in bad weather is permitted, provided one does not go ashore.

Australian Quarantine Regulations

New biosecurity laws came into force on 16th June 2016 but there are currently no significant changes to the arrangements for quarantine inspections for yachts. See the www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/avm/vessels for the latest details.

Australia has also introduced a scheme of limited "practique" for vessels which present a potential biosecurity risk due to timber pests. See the above website for the details.

Last updated March 2017.

Immigration

All nationalities, with the sole exception of New Zealanders, must obtain a visa in advance or be registered as an eVisitor.

See the following website for the various types of visitor visas. http://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Form/Immi-FAQs/what-visa-do-i-need-to-visit-australia

New Zealand passport holders can apply for a visa upon arrival in the country.

The Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) is a useful type of visa for cruisers as it allows multiple visits (of no more than 3 months each visit) for a 12 month period. You MUST be outside Australia when applying. It takes only one day to obtain. See www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/601- for a list of citizens who are eligible for this type of visa.

Other types of visa permit stays of up to 12 months if the finacial, health and character requirements are met.

There are Australian diplomatic missions in American Samoa, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Western Samoa, where visas can be obtained. New Zealand citizens must now obtain a visa in advance before entry to Thursday Island as the Torres Strait area has been declared an excised migration zone.

Yachts travelling to or from Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands and the mainland of Australia are deemed to have not left Australia if their trip is within 30 days of departure from the mainland Australia or these islands. Persons on board these yachts must ensure that their visa covers the entire period of their stay including travel time between the mainland of Australia and these islands.

Persons travelling to Norfolk Island are immigration cleared both on arrival and departure on the mainland Australia and Norfolk Island. Therefore, they must have a multiple entry visa for return to the mainland Australia. Customs and Quarantine clearances are required on departure from and arrival to the mainland Australia.

A multiple entry visa must be obtained by those wishing to stop also at one of Australia's territories (Cocos Keeling or Christmas Island).

If planning to stay longer than 3 months, it is advisable to apply for the necessary visa prior to arrival as the application requirements can be more difficult once in Australia. See also this Noonsite report affecting visitors remaining longer than 3 months.

Last updated March 2017.

Customs

Firearms must be declared on entry. All military-type firearms (greater than .22), machine guns, pistols, revolvers, ammunition, as well as flick knives and knuckledusters are prohibited imports, and will be sealed on board or taken into custody at the first port of entry. Arrangements can be made to transport them to the port of departure if sufficient notice is given of that port and the date of departure. Sporting rifles and shotguns may be kept on board if a permit is obtained from the police and there is a suitable storage facility. This last condition also applies if prohibited imports are to be sealed on board. Prohibited imports include animal or plant material, products made from protected wildlife, some food items and medicines.

Prescription drugs must be declared on arrival and their consumption recorded in the log book, which Customs may check on departure.

Anyone over 18 years of age is entitled to bring in 2.25 litres of alcohol and 250 gm tobacco or 250 cigarettes. All quantities in excess of this will be sealed on board. NOTE: In some communities alcohol is not permitted and it is an offence to bring any into them.

Foreign yachts may now be temporarily imported into Australia for up to 3 years without paying duty or Goods and Services Tax. This can be accumulated over different seasons, however after the maximum 3 year period, yachts must be away from Australia for two years before being allowed back into Australia - otherwise duty and GST are payable immediately.
Direct any enquiries to the nearest Immigration and Border Protection office. See this list of offices.

Australian yachts must be exported if departing for foreign waters and imported on their return. See this article by http://www.mysailing.com.au with all the details.

Australia now has strict regulations for the import of ozone depleting gases contained in refrigeration equipment on yachts. A one off ozone gas license must now be applied for prior to importing your yacht into Australia . The license can be obtained by The Federal Dept of Environment. More information is available at ozone@environment.gov.au

It is possible that you may be asked to give Customs a bank or cash security to the value of the duty that would be paid if the yacht were imported. If paying cash, advance notice of departure and the port of exit must be given to Customs in order to get a refund.

Customs require the itinerary that the yacht proposes to follow while in Australia (this may just be a verbal report). Yachts are expected to keep Customs informed of their whereabouts and to notify the nearest Customs office if they change their itinerary. In addition, they must check in with Customs at each port they visit where there is a Customs post and at least every 3 months.

Goods and Services Tax:
A tax of 10 per cent is included in the price of most goods, except food, alcohol, clothing and fuel. Refunds on this tax (with some exceptions) are available for visitors to Australia. For a refund, obtain a tax invoice from retailers when purchasing goods over AUS$300 less than 30 days before departure. Full details available at Tourist Refund Scheme

Cash over $A10,000 (or equivalent) must be declared on arrival and departure.

Australia is free from many human, animal and plant diseases including rabies. All foodstuffs and plants, regardless of their origin, packaging or nature, are subject to a quarantine examination on arrival. All fresh produce as well as frozen and canned meat will be removed. Souvenirs will also be inspected including shells, feathers, wooden artefacts and any matting. For more information see the Quarantine Regulations in the Noonsite Clearance section. Australian Border Force officers have the powers to ask everyone to vacate a vessel if they wish to carry out a search.

Importing Spares

It is possible to import spare parts free of import duty for "yachts in transit" if the correct procedure is followed. See this Noonsite report for the details. Apart from rigorous customs-checking, import-duties are fair.

Last updated March 2017.

Health

Do not underestimate the agressiveness of the crocadiles! Advisable to use a hard dinghy in areas where they are about.

If your home country is one without a reciprocal healthcare agreement, then it is worth registering with Australian Medicare.Just go along to a Medicare Office (look on the internet), take your passports and visas, and you can sign up there and then and be given a temporary Medicare card to use. You need to provide an Aussie address. If you don’t have an Aussie bank account for them to reimburse you into, then just make sure you go to any doctor who ‘bulk bills’ (they normally advertise this). The surgery then makes the claim for you and you don’t have to hand over any money.

Irukandji, box jellyfish and bluebottles were responsible for stings along the Queensland coast in the 2016/17 summer with several beaches closed at various times. The box jellyfish contain "one of the most powerful toxins known to man". If water temperatures return to normal in future summers, the migration south will cease or even reverse. But it is as well to be aware of the symptoms and seek treatment immediately if an Irukandji sting is suspected.
http://irukandjijellyfish.com/

Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA)
Tel:+61 (02) 6289 3252
This organisation will grant permission to retain prescription drugs in the first aid kit.

Documents

Cruising Permit
A cruising permit, valid for the period of the captain's visa, is obtained from customs on arrival, being granted when the officials are satisfied that the applicant is a genuine tourist, and has proof of sufficient funds for the maintenance of the vessel and the crew without work visas. Extensions are available from customs, upon application and assessment of the reasons. The permit enables foreign yachts to cruise freely between their port of entry and exit, and allows them to visit ports and places besides the official ports of entry. This permit is not for the use of anyone with the intention of using the vessel for commercial gain while in Australia.

Insurance
Recreational ships visiting Queensland coastal waters are required to comply with the legislation that requires all ships over 15 metres in length to have insurance sufficient to pay for potential pollution clean up, salvage and wreck removal. See Maritime Safety Queensland for more details.

All Australian marinas require public liability insurance for both domestic and foreign vessels. Most Queensland marinas require any visiting vessel to have public liability insurance for AUD$5million. Darwin marinas also require a higher component due to their unique lock systems (normally AUD$5million). You may be refused entry to marinas (particularly those with locks) if you have insufficient liability insurance. Be sure to check with the marina prior to arrival - they can probably assist with finding a provider at a low rate. See 2012 report from World ARC organisers here on this subject.

Pantaenius Yacht Insurance
594 New South Head Road , Rose Bay , Sydney, NSW 2029
Tel:+61-(02)-9936 1670
Contact: James MacPhail

Fees

Departure Fees
There is a departure tax of AUD $47 per person over 12 years old. This is payable whether one leaves by yacht or by air.

AQIS Fees

Note: January 2016 The clearance fees have been increased by about 17.5%. The average cost for a well prepared boat is now about A$450.
See this website for a summary www.agriculture.gov.au/fees of a break down of the fees. Overtime charges are also applied for work outside normal working hours.

This AQIS fee is charged annually if the boat remains in Australia for more than one year.

There are charges for yachts carrying small animals which are bonded on board and which are applied on top of the above fees.

Last updated March 2017.

Restrictions

Some restricted areas are marked on the charts.

Aboriginal Reserves and National Parks:

Entry to these may be restricted and special permission is required to visit them. The Northern Territory has several of these areas on its coast. For more details, write to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Darwin or enquire at the port of entry.

The coast and islands west of Gove are part of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve and one needs a permit for entry, obtainable from the Lands Office in Gove.

Cotton Island is off-limits as it has sacred burial sites.

Coburg Peninsula is a National Park and permission to enter can be obtained from the Ranger Station.

Ashmore Reef is a National Park, no spearfishing is allowed.

Note: In the Northern Territory, one must remember that salt-water crocodiles can be found in the sea and estuaries. Their numbers are growing as they are a protected animal.

New South Wales

In New South Wales living aboard a yacht permanently is illegal, although foreign yachts that are cruising are considered more leniently. The Maritime Services Board in Pittwater are more lenient than those in Sydney Harbour.

A recent change to Maritime Safety laws in late 2016 means that yachts that visit New South Wales (in particular Sydney) and plan to anchor are welcome to anchor for 28 days and no more. Otherwise you must get a mooring or a slip.

See this news item for further details.

Artefacts and protected wildlife products cannot be exported unless special permission is obtained.

Queensland

From 1st January 2004 the discharge of both treated and untreated sewage is prohibited in: waters of a boat harbour, canal and marina; the Noosa River, and ; designated areas of state marine parks. From 1 July 2004 this restriction is widened to further areas. In those waterways where discharge of sewage is permitted, the discharged sewage must first pass through a macerator if a fixed toilet is onboard. For more information visit http://www.msq.qld.gov.au/qt/msq.nsf/index/sewage_mgt

For additional restrictions applicable in Queensland, see Queensland page for more details.

Biofouling Requirements

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is introducing biofouling management requirements for arriving international yachts (among other vessels). At least 250 introduced marine species are already established in Australian ports and waters - 70 per cent of these arrived as biofouling organisms on vessels' hulls.

A voluntary phase-in period began on 1 Oct 2005. During the voluntary period AQIS will trial waterline inspections, gather information about current maintenance practices and educate yacht operators about biofouling and the impact it can have on vessels and the environment. Vessels with visibly fouled hulls may be subjected to closer inspection and that may involve removing such vessels from the water. Yachts which arrive with a clean hull will not face the costs of slipping the vessel. The new system will be phased in over 12 months. Initially, the new system will apply only to internationally plying vessels less than 25 m in length and foreign vessels (of any size) that are apprehended for illegal activities or rescued by Australian authorities inside territorial waters.

Full details about the protocol and how it will work may be found on the AQIS website: www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity

On the site you'll be able to find the following: Biofouling fact sheet (outlining the biofouling protocol); A comprehensive information document (detailing the background to the protocol and maintenance guidelines for yacht); A biofouling maintenance log book (to assist yacht operators record any biofouling maintenance work performed).

From 1st July 2010, Australia has also introduced a scheme of limited pratique for vessels which present a potential biosecurity risk due to timber pests. See this Noonsite report for the details.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is divided into different coloured zones; in the "Green Zones" which cover about one third of the park, no fishing or collecting is allowed. Heavy fines and boarding by authorities to inspect the boat freezer are in operation. Restricted fishing is permitted in some of the other zones. For the latest information and zone maps it is advisable to view the Marine Park Authority's website www.gbrmpa.gov.au before your planned vist to the area.

Other Restrictions

Artefacts and protected wildlife products cannot be exported unless special permission is obtained.

Last updated March 2017.

Pets

The quarantine laws are strict and the penalties for breaking them severe.
General Quarantine Rules
- Pets from New Zealand, Norfolk Island, or Cocos Island will be admitted to Australia without quarantine.
- Pets from most other countries will be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days and up to 120 days depending on the country from which they are arriving.
- Pets are not allowed to be imported into Australia from countries where there is a high incidence of rabies.

Cursing Yachts with animals on board may only anchor, and the animal must be kept on board and confined (in a cage or below decks) at all times. Quarantine must be notified of any intention to change mooring at least 48 hours prior to moving, as well as the proposed itinerary in Australian waters.

Permission to go to a dock to take fuel or water must be obtained in advance. While at the dock, the animal must be locked below. Permission must also be obtained before sailing to another area. The boat must be locked up whenever the crew is away.

There is no additional charge for this surveillance unless there is a problem to be dealt with. All waste must be contained and is then removed by the quarantine officer.

If embarking animals in Australia, be aware that they must be entered through an AQIS Port of Entry (not always the same as a Customs Port), a 96hr AQIS pre-arrival report must be emailed to the appropriate AQIS offices and they must have all the required certificates.

Full details and instructions can be obtained from the www.agriculture.gov.au website.

Last updated March 2017.

Taking your Australian Dog Cruising - by SY Southern Wing (2014)

The Cost of Bringing a Cat to Australia - by SY Ceilydh (2012)

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Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu to Cairns, Australia (22 May 2008)

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Hawaii, Honolulu to Brisbane, Australia (22 May 2008)

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Australia and New Zealand during the summer months (22 May 2008)

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Hong Kong to Sydney, Australia by 55' Power Boat (17 May 2008)

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Australia to Philippines (15 May 2008)

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Hong Kong to Whitsundays, Australia (14 May 2008)

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Hong Kong to Bundaberg, Australia (14 May 2008)

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Tanzania, Zanzibar to NW Australia - Season & Route (14 May 2008)

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Foreign vessels sold in Australia (27 Mar 2008)

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American Cruisers Lose Appeal Against Australian Customs (29 Feb 2008)

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Cruise in company to Papua New Guinea from Queensland (30 Jan 2008)

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Report On Australia to Philippines Via Palau & PNG (17 Jan 2008)

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Positive Customs/Quarantine/Imigration Clearance in Cairns Australia (17 Jan 2008)

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Tide Information In South Pacific (17 Oct 2007)

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Bad Experience Selling Boat in Australia (16 Apr 2007)

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Issues With Yacht Fumigation in Australia (20 Mar 2007)

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Notification of impending arrival In Australia to Customs Authorities (13 Mar 2007)

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New Cruising Guide - Tanimbar Islands Indonesia (09 Feb 2007)

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Extending An Electronic Visa (23 Jan 2007)

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Information on Tascoast Radio (15 Jan 2007)

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Employment at Marinas in Australia (25 Sep 2006)

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Obtaining Australian Visa (18 Sep 2006)

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AQIS requirements for yachts clearing into Australia: Biofouling (05 Jul 2006)

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Useful Coastguard Fax Numbers (08 Mar 2006)

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More Information On Quarantine Inspection Of Souvenirs (07 Mar 2006)

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Weather Forecast Services for South Pacific (24 Jan 2006)

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Ashmore Reef Report October 2005 (23 Oct 2005)

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General Observations On Current Cruising In Australia (22 Jul 2004)

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25th Anniversary of Moon Handbooks South Pacific (24 Jun 2004)

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NSW Whale Guidelines For Winter Migration (15 Jun 2004)

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A personal view of the Gold Coast (24 Feb 2003)

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Brisbane - Cyclone Season Alternative (16 Jan 2003)

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Brisbane offers it all (31 Dec 2002)

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Ashmore Reef (22 Aug 2002)

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Townsville (19 Aug 2002)

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The Coral Coast: an introduction (19 Aug 2002)

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