Coastal Trading

On 1 July 2012, the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 (the Act) created a new licensing regime to regulate access the coastal trade which replaced the previous permit system that was established under Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912.

The Act regulates coastal trade by granting licences to authorise vessels to carry passengers or cargo between ports in Australia. The licensing system established under the Act sets out three licence types; general licences, temporary licences and emergency licences. Licences are issued for interstate voyages however; licence holders can choose to apply the Act to intrastate voyages by submitting a section 12 declaration. Applications for licences and reporting requirements must be submitted online through the Coastal Trading Licensing System (CTLS).

In addition to the existing coastal trading system, the Australian Government established the Australian International Shipping Register (AISR) for Australian shipowners who predominantly engage in international trading. Eligible vessels registered in the AISR are able to access a range of tax incentives offered by the Australian Government.

All domestic movements of cargo or passengers on interstate voyages must be authorised by one of the below licence types. Using a vessel to engage in coastal trading without a licence is an offence and may lead to a penalty being imposed.

Coastal Trading Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following FAQ section has been published by the Department to assist stakeholders with understanding the requirements around coastal trading licensing and conditions associated with holding a coastal trading licence.

Coastal Trading Enforcement Strategy

General Licence

A general licence permits a vessel on the Australian General Shipping Register unrestricted access to engage in coastal trading in Australian waters for five years.

Temporary Licence

A temporary licence provides access to engage in coastal trading in Australian for a 12-month period, limited to the voyages authorised under the licence.

New Matters Variation

A new matters variation is used to add additional, completely separate voyages onto an existing temporary licence.

Authorised Matters Variation

An authorised matters variation is used to vary the existing voyages already authorised under a temporary licence. To be approved by the Delegate, proposed voyage variations must bear a “reasonable resemblance” to the original voyage.

Energy Security Situation Variation

An energy security situation (ESS) is a type of authorised matters variation that may be granted where there is a shortage of fuel product. ESS applications do not have a mandatory consultation period but must be submitted alongside a Statutory Declaration detailing the special circumstances.

  • Energy Security Situation Variation flowchart PDF: 282 KB ReadSpeaker

Emergency Licence

An Emergency Licence provides access to engage in coastal trading in Australian waters in identified emergency situations—this licence may be granted for up to 30 days.

Declaration under section 12

An applicant may apply for a Section 12 Declaration (S12) if they wish for a vessel to engage in intrastate voyages while being subject to the requirements of the Coastal Trading Act. Once an S12 is granted, it applies to the vessel for the entire 2 year validity of the declaration.

Statutory Declaration

A statutory declaration is required under section 43 (ba) of the Act for applications to vary a Temporary Licence for Energy Security Situations.

Transitional General Licence

Transitional arrangements for owners of foreign vessels that held a licence issued under Part VI of the Navigation Act 1912 at 30 June 2012 have been provided for through a Transitional General Licence. Transitional General Licences are continued in force by the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2012. Applications for this licence type are no longer accepted.

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Last Updated: 16 June, 2017