The Australian Shipping Registration Office was established in 1982 under the provisions of the Shipping Registration Act 1981. Since the formation of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in 1991, the office has been a part of the Authority.
The main purpose of the Act is to fix the conditions for the registration of ships in Australia and to grant ships Australian nationality. It also provides for Australian ships to fly the Australian National Flag or the Australian Red Ensign in accordance with Australia's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, to which Australia is a party.
The business of the office includes the establishment of the ownership of ships, the granting of certificates, the issue of Continuous Synopsis Records (CSR) to ship required to carry them and providing public access to the information held in the Australian Register of Ships.
Under the Shipping Registration Act 1981 (SRA), Australian ships over 24m, and those undertaking overseas voyages, are obligated to be registered unless exempted by section 13 of the Act. Due to changes to the SRA, from 1 July 2012 it is planned there will be two Australian shipping registers that ships can be registered on:
- The Australian General Register - which will be primarily used by domestic vessels and Australian vessels with international certification
- that wish to have unlimited assess to the Australian coastal trading
- or choose to remain on the General Register.
- The Australian International Shipping Register (the International Register) - which will be open to international trading ships that meet specific criteria. The purpose of the International Register is to provide a competitive alternative for Australian companies that own or operate ships to registering overseas. The register will maintain Australia’s international reputation for high quality maritime safety and environmental standards while putting Australian companies on a level footing with their international competitors.
Note.1 : Where a ship is obliged to be registered under section 12, and noting section 68, of the Shipping Registration Act 1981, then it must be registered on one of the two registers unless exempt by section 13 of the Act.
Note.2 : While the Administration of the International register rest with AMSA the administration of the tax incentives associated with the register are administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT).