Australian Customs

Australian Customs, Immigration, Maritime Safety and Quarantine requirements for entry of superyachts and crew into Australia

Customs requirements
The Australian Customs Service (Customs) guidelines in relation to superyachts allow for the granting of permission to remain in Australian waters for an initial period of up to twelve months (subject to visa conditions). Known as a Cruising Permit, such permission is only granted if the craft is transiting Australian waters for non-commercial purposes, is not owned or operated by an Australian resident, and is not entering Australia to be sold. Extensions beyond the period of the initial permission may be granted, without cost or penalty, as long as visa conditions allow this and the permit holder has complied with and still meets the conditions of the initial permission.

Reporting requirements Pre Arrival:
The Master, Owner, or appointed Agent of ships arriving in Australia from overseas is required to report the impending arrival to Customs at least ninety six (96) hours prior to the expected date/time of arrival. Where the voyage is of a lesser duration than ninety six (96) hours you should contact Customs to determine the reporting requirement. This report must give details of the vessel, persons on board, specific arrival details (time, place, previous ports of call), and manifest of any commercial cargo being conveyed to Australia. New mandatory electronic reporting for ships carrying cargo commenced in 2005. Information concerning cargo reporting obligations can be obtained by contacting the Customs Information & Support Centre on 1300 363 263 from anywhere in Australia or +61 2 6275 6666 from outside Australia.

On Arrival
When you arrive in Australia, you must first call at a port of entry. Ports of entry are listed below. The vessel may be boarded by both Customs and Quarantine Officers to ensure the vessel complies with the legislated requirements in relation to visa/travel authorities, Customs and Quarantine controls, and possession of valid safety certificates. There is a charge applicable to the Quarantine component of this activity.

During this process, the status of the vessel will be assessed, and either a valid cruising permit will be issued, or the master will be directed as to how to obtain such a permission, and the time period within which such permission should be obtained. It should be noted however that a permit may not be issued if the vessel does not meet Customs requirements for cruising. (See Vessel Importation)

Any items that are not allowed into Australia will also be dealt with at that time. Quarantine items (including foodstuffs) that do not meet entry requirements will be seized, and may either undergo treatment at the owners expense and subsequently returned or surrendered for destruction. Customs officers will deal with weapons, drugs and other restricted items, which may include ensuring safe storage for example by sealing on board, if security provisions are deemed sufficient and appropriate.

Proclaimed ports of entry for superyachts and other small craft arriving in Australia.
Ports Of Entry:

Coffs Harbour
Lord Howe Island
Twofold Bay (Eden)


Gove (Nhulunbuy)

Port Adelaide
Port Lincloln


Thursday Island

Port Hedland

Treatment of fuel imported as bunkers on the vessel

Vessels used for private cruising
On arrival the fuel onboard will remain free of duty. Any fuel purchased during your stay will be subject to duty and GST.
On departure, after you have obtained a clearance from Customs, you will be entitled to purchase fuel free of duty and GST.

Vessels used for commercial purposes
On arrival the fuel on board will need to be imported. Duty and GST will be payable. Any fuel purchased during your stay will be subject to duty and GST. On departure vessels may claim a drawback for any duty and GST paid on remaining fuel.

Vessel Importation
Should the vessel operate commercially while in Australia, the vessel and any fuel on board will need to be imported. Superyachts are subject to normal rates of customs duty and GST.

Superyachts over 150 gross construction tonnes are free of duty on the vessel. Duty on fuel still applies. Prior to the vessel commencing commercial operations, arrangements may be made with the Australian Taxation Office to defer GST payments. There is no provision for refund or drawback of duty or GST paid on the vessel’s importation should the vessel be exported later. Drawback on fuel later exported is available.

Treatment of alcoholic drinks imported on the vessel
On arrival, every person on board the vessel is accorded a passenger concession of 2.250lts per adult, with the balance being subject to normal duty and tax provisions. Other arrangements may be made and you should discuss these with Customs on arrival. These may include, sealing the alcohol on board, or warehoused at your expense until departure.

Weapons and firearms
All weapons and firearms on ships must be reported to Customs regardless of the purpose of your visit to Australia or the duration of stay. Certain weapons and firearms may be detained in safe storage for transhipment to the vessel’s intended port of departure from Australia. In cases where a weapon has been detained by Customs the Master will be required to contact Customs at least one week prior to departure so that the weapon can be returned.

The use and ownership of weapons is severely limited in Australia, and if you wish to have such items available for use during your stay, you will need to contact the relevant State Police authority to obtain the necessary permits. This should be done prior to arrival.

Should you require further information relating to your firearms you should contact the Customs Information & Support Centre.

Other Prohibitions or Restrictions
In addition to restrictions on weapons and firearms, Australia has a variety of border controls covering the importation of a wide range of items. Goods subject to prohibition or restriction include, but are not restricted to:

  • drugs, including Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS);
  • some medicinal products;
  • cultural heritage items;
  • ozone depleting substances;
  • hazardous waste;
  • protected wildlife; and
  • animal and plant material.

Penalties for non-compliance with Australia’s border legislation can be severe, so if you have any doubts whether goods in your possession require a permit or special conditions are to be met, you are advised to contact the Customs Information & Support Centre prior to your arrival in Australia.

Places that can be visited
There are very few places that your vessel cannot visit, if here for tourism purposes, and once you have obtained permission by Customs to cruise the Australian coast. There are some areas of the Great Barrier Reef that are subject to visiting restrictions, and you should contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for details of these.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Prior to Departure
The Master should notify the nearest Australian Customs office of their intention for the vessels to depart Australia. Arrangements will be made regarding the necessary paperwork to be completed, and a time and place for the outward immigration processing. Where possible, it is preferable that at least 48 hours notice is given (seven days if firearms are involved), in order to arrange staffing, and return of any items held for safekeeping.

Departure Costs
The Master and all other persons on board a superyacht are excluded from the payment of the Passenger Movement Charge, unless specifically identified as a fare-paying passenger.

Customs Officers may visit your vessel without notice, to check the security of items sealed on board and conduct compliance activities.