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The Agent’s Corner: Headed Down Under? Know the Aussie rules

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The Agents Corner: by Deb Radtke

This past month I had the opportunity to visit Cairns, Australia. We were hosted by the Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef. This gave me the opportunity to sit down with Carrie Carter from Carter Marine Agencies and ask some questions about what yachts need to know before going to Australia.

What about visas?

All non-Australian and non-New Zealander crew are required to hold a Subclass 408 Activity Visa prior to the vessel arriving into the first Australian port. These are available online for a 3-month stay without sponsorship. All nationalities can apply, but some may be required to provide additional information. The online application will require you to upload supporting documents: passport, employment contract, etc.  This can be difficult, given vessel satellite connections, so employing a good Australian agent to submit visa applications on your behalf can be a great idea.

For those who need a visa for more than 3 months, sponsorship is required prior to submitting  the individual crew applications. Once again, agents are very familiar with this process, so it pays to engage their help. When applying for stays longer than 3 months, some nationalities will be required to have a chest X-ray and medical – it’s not possible, though, to list which nationalities since each application is judged on its own merits after it has been submitted  and assessed.

What about dogs aboard?

Many owners like to travel with their canine companions. While it is possible to bring your dog into Australia, obtaining an import permit is required because of very strict biosecurity regulations. Dogs arriving on vessels without an import permit run the risk of being sent to Melbourne’s animal quarantine facility at the owner’s expense, being immediately exported from Australia, or being euthanized. Each case is judged on its own merits, but it is highly recommended to get the import permit in advance rather than risk losing a beloved companion.

What about the boat?

Now onto the vessel – what are the requirements for a foreign flagged yacht to cruise in Australian waters? Australian authorities require a minimum of 96 hours’ notice of a vessel’s arrival into the first Australian port. The Australian Border Force requires filing of a Small Craft Report, which includes crew list, alcohol and equipment lists. It is also a declaration of firearms and ammunition.

Biosecurity requires notification of a vessel’s arrival within 12 to 96 hours of arriving into the first Australian port. If a foreign-flagged vessel is only calling through an Australian port or staying for less than one week, they will have the option to remain under Biosecurity surveillance, which means they remain on ‘International’ status and therefore will not be required to strip the vessel of all quarantine risk material.  A quarantine waste disposal will be required on arrival and prior to departure.

Alternatively, a vessel can opt for ‘Coastal’ status, which will mean stripping the vessel of all quarantine risk material at the first Australian port. Once a vessel obtains Coastal status, they are free to travel in Australian waters and are not subject to any further Biosecurity intervention.

The Australian Biosecurity website provides a good list of what can and cannot be brought into Australia, or you can contact your agent, who will also provide a list of permissible items.

We appreciate Carrie’s assistance with this information, she can be reached at Carrie@cartermarine.com or by calling +61 0429 391 046.

Capt. Deb Radtke owns American Yacht Agents in Fort Lauderdale (www.americanyachtagents.net). After 16 years of working on yachts, she found her niche shoreside assisting vessels visiting the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes. Comments are welcome below.

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