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Requirements for cruise ships and Superyachts entering Australia

​​​​​​​​​On 18 April 2022 the Biosecurity Determination that banned cruise ships and superyachts from entering Australian waters expired.

​Let us know you are coming​

Cruise ships

A cruise ship is defined as a ship that has more than 100 sleeping facilities for passengers paying for a service of sea transportation.

Cruise ships are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. This includes requiring permission to enter an Australian Non-Appointed First Port of Entry and/or to enter subsequent Ports of Call.

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC) approval is required for cruise ships wanting to enter seaports other than the Ports of:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane (excluding Tangalooma)
  • Cairns (excluding Yorkeys Knob)
  • Port Adelaide
  • Hobart.

Cruise ships wanting to arrive, depart or visit any other seaports (including Tangalooma and Yorkeys Knob) must submit an MTPC application.

Large passenger vessels

Large passenger vessels are defined as a ship with 99 or less sleeping facilities for passengers paying for a service of sea transportation.

Large passenger vessels are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. This includes requiring permission to enter an Australian Non-Appointed First port of Entry and/or to enter subsequent Ports of Call.

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC) approval is required for large passenger vessels wanting to enter seaports other than the Ports of:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane (excluding Tangalooma)
  • Cairns (excluding Yorkeys Knob)
  • Port Adelaide
  • Hobart
  • Broome
  • Freemantle.

Large passenger vessels wanting to arrive, depart or visit any other seaports (including Tangalooma and Yorkeys Knob) must submit an MTPC application.​

Superyachts

Large motor or sailing vessels (superyachts) of over 24 metres in length, whether for private use or commercial recreational or sporting activities, are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. 

Recent changes to reporting and border clearance procedures have resulted in a superyacht owner/operator/master or agent being required to seek permission to enter Australia through non-appointed ports.

This applies to both private superyachts and those intending to operate as special recreational vessels (SRVs) in Australia for commercial purposes and under temporary licence arrangements as described under the Special Recreational Vessels Act (2019) and Coastal Trading (revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.        

A ship’s owner/operator/master or agent must submit a request through the Maritime Travellers Processing Committee (MTPC), for superyachts:

  • operating privately, but proposing to arrive in Australia at non-appointed ports, or
  • operating as an SRV (under a temporary coastal trading licence) proposing to arrive or visit non-appointed ports.​​

​Maritime Traveller Processing Committee

The Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC) co-ordinates the exercise of various statutory controls and responsibilities carried out at seaports. One of the MTPC’s functions is to review approval requests from the cruise ship industry to arrive or depart from minor, restricted and non-designated seaports where there is no permanent Australian Border Force or Department of Agriculture presence. This function is now extended to superyachts as described.

How to contact the Maritime Traveller Processing Committee

The Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC) operates Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 4.30 pm (excluding public holidays). You can contact the MTPC by email mtpc@abf.gov.au

Emails received outside of business hours will be responded to the next business day.

Making an application to the Maritime Traveller Processing ​Committee

Cruise ships and large passenger vessels

If Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC) approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must provide a written request to the MTPC mailbox. See How to contact the MTPC

The MTPC will liaise with relevant border agencies to confirm availability for border clearance processes.

Application process

If MTPC approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must submit a written application at least 30 days before the arrival and no more than 12 months in advance. The application form must contain the full itinerary, vessel details and port intentions (for example, passenger/crew exchange, shore excursions, and sail by/anchor only).

Cruise vessels wanting to undertake round trip cruises must apply through the MTPC.

Cruise vessels also wanting to apply for round trip cruise status must apply by email to mtpc​@abf.gov.au.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.​

Note: Approved arrival clearance of vessels at non-appointed ports will incur Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture cost recovery charges. The Australian Border Force does not levy any charges for clearance at appointed ports. However, the Department of Agriculture operates on a full cost recovery basis.

Cruise ship visitors and on-board functions

The cruise ship operator should seek permission from the MTPC at least 10 business days before inviting visitors to board a cruise ship for a function or other purpose not related directly to the vessel's operations (for example, media events, marketing events or fund raising activities).

Applications for on-board functions should be submitted to the MTPC at least 10 business days before the intended visit.

Currently only on-board functions (OBF) that support the resumption and strengthening of the cruise industry will be supported.

Functions such as weddings, parties and presentations will not be endorsed by the MTPC at this time.

En route Clearances

Due to Health and Safety Risks for ABF Officers, en route clearances are currently under review and are suspended until 31 December 2022.

Embarkation and disembarkation

Any requests to embark or disembark passengers at non first points of entry / non-appointed ports must come through the MTPC. Any passengers wishing to leave / join a vessel at a non-appointed port must gain approval if is not an emergency.

Superyachts

Application process

If MTPC approval is required, vessel operator/owners/masters or their agents must submit an MTPC application no later than 10 business days before the arrival and no more than 12 months in advance. The application form must contain the full itinerary, vessel details and port intentions (for example, passenger/crew exchange, shore excursions, and sail by/anchor only). The application form can be requested by contacting the MTPC.

Superyachts approved for arrival at non-appointed ports will be subject to the operator/owners/masters or their agents meeting ABF and Department of Agriculture border clearance costs associated with attending non-appointed ports to clear the vessel and persons/goods.

Note: Superyachts operating under a coastal trading licence will potentially incur costs at all non-appointed ports visited during a voyage. 

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

Reporting requirements

Superyachts (non-commercial) arriving in Australia through a non-appointed port remain subject to the impending arrival reporting requirements as outlined in Let us know you’re coming and information requirements as outlined in Yachts and pleasure craft.

Superyachts operating under a coastal trading licence are considered international commercial vessels and must also comply with the standard reporting and operating requirements for international commercial vessels under the Coastal Trading Act and customs legislation.

Passenger clearance options

The ABF determine the most efficient and effective method of clearance.

​On a wharf, at a dedicated or temporary facility, is the only clearance option currently available.