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Australian Border Force & Quarantine Procedures

Information for yachts travelling to Australia 

The information contained in this booklet applies to the non-commercial use of yachts, motor sailors and motor cruisers and provides an outline of the procedures and legal requirements which apply to the Master of these vessels arriving in and departing from Australia.

If you are in charge of any of the above mentioned craft, you are considered the Master of the craft, even if you are not its owner and the owner is on board.

Whether you are a returning resident, migrating to Australia or a visitor, you need to comply with entry requirements. You can help speed this up if you follow these simple steps:

  • Make sure each person on board has a valid visa and passport;
  • You are required by law to notify Customs before you arrive. Let us know you are coming!

information for yachts travelling to Australia – let us know you’re coming

The Master of a vessel arriving in Australia is required by law to give notice of impending arrival not later than 96 hours before arrival. Penalties may apply for failure to do so.

If the journey, from a place outside Australia, is likely to take less than ninety-six (96) hours then the below sliding scale is used based on the steaming time from the previous foreign port (section 64(5)(b)(i) of the Customs Act- Customs Regulations section 27).


Likely duration of journey

Specified period


72 hours or more but less than 96 hours

72 hours


48 hours or more but less than 72 hours

48 hours


24 hours or more but less than 48 hours

24 hours


Less than 24 hours

12 hours

There are several agencies interested in your arrival – principally Customs, Quarantine and Immigration.

96 hours notice may be given by either;

You will need to provide the following information:

  • The name of your craft
  • Craft’s Country and Port of Registration
  • Your intended first port of arrival
  • Your estimated arrival time
  • Your last four ports
  • The 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

Clearly display the International Pratique Q-flag and travel directly to an appointed boarding station;

Complete the Arrival forms and Incoming Passenger Card.

Australia has strict laws to protect its citizens and natural environment. Penalties may be imposed if you breach those laws by illegally importing:

    • Drugs;
    • Animal or plant material;
    • Firearms, weapons or ammunition;
    • Protected wildlife and products made from them;
    • Some food items; and
    • Some medicinal products including Performance Enhancing Drugs.

The Department of Agriculture has developed operator guidelines for vessels entering Australia. Biosecurity reporting obligations ask that you use the online Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS) prior to arrival.

Pre-arrival information, and changes, for maritime conveyances (vessels) must be reported in a form approved by the Director of Biosecurity, which is MARS. Electronic offline forms can be used where there is limited connectivity, but they do not constitute the approved form. Your reporting obligations are met once your information has been submitted in MARS.

Vessel Operator Responsibilities: The operator of the vessel is obligated to accurately report information in accordance with Section 193 of the Biosecurity Act 2015. This information must be lodged in MARS no later than 12 hours prior to arrival.

Any changes in circumstances during the voyage in Australian waters must be reported to the department as soon as practicable.

Visit www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/avm/vessels

Visit www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/ente/avia/maritime


Fees and charges

As a cost-recovered organisation, the department must charge for all activities it undertakes to protect Australia’s biosecurity. A full list of fees associated with vessel biosecurity services are set out in the department’s charging guidelines.

Further information can be found at: