Important news

Australia is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19). See the department’s latest advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) or visit the Department of Health to learn more. Commercial vessels that have been in contact with an international vessel should review the information here about obligations and requirements on arrival in Australia as part of the Australian Government strategy to managing the risks of COVID-19.

Increased intervention and a stronger enforcement approach is currently in place to keep African Swine Fever (ASF) out of Australia. Passengers and crew must not remove jerky, biltong and other pork products from the vessel. See Keeping ASF out of Australia.

All commercial vessels must now use the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS) for all vessel pre-arrival reporting.

Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS)

Mode​rnising vessel biosecurity clearance

Paperless. Efficient. Transparent.

MARS Access


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Commercial vessels types that must use MARS to report

  • Barges
  • Break bulk
  • Chartered superyachts
  • Container
  • Cruise
  • Fishing
  • General cargo
  • Government
  • Heavy lift
  • Livestock
  • Military
  • Research
  • Ro-Ro
  • Tankers
  • Tugs

Biosecurity reporting obligations

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. 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.

Shipping Agent Responsibilities: Where the vessel operator uses a shipping agent, the agent is responsible for lodgement of accurate and timely information into MARS. The agent must ensure that this information is a true and correct representation of the reports provided by the vessel operator, and that any changes have been confirmed with the operator.

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

Biosecurity concerns

Risks associated with international vessels may include rabies, foot and mouth disease, or avian flu which could be introduced by infected animals or in food purchased overseas or from trading with overseas vessels. International vessels can bring in unwanted pests and disease through avenues such as:

  • Human health disease concerns from crew and passengers.
  • Exotic insects on the deck or marine pests on the hull (biofouling) or in ballast water.
  • Galleys could have stored product pests or diseased fruit and vegetables.
  • Waste from the vessel (that is dry stores, cooked and uncooked meat, vegetable scraps and eggs) if not stored securely, can become a breeding ground for exotic pests and diseases.
  • Souvenirs with plant and animal content could contain exotic insects.
  • Plants and items with feathers and seeds that can carry disease organisms or plant pests.
  • Animals including ships pets, hitch hikers or imported animals carrying disease.

MARS and Vessel Arrival Support Tools

There are a range of support tools available to help you use MARS and comply with Australia’s biosecurity requirements. See the MARS Communications and Training Materials webpage for user guides, Quick Reference Guides, FAQs, checklists and brochures.

  • Locally based biosecurity officers are the key contacts at each of the port locations.
  • Support is also being provided by the Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC): 1300 004 605 within Australia or +61 8 8201 6185 outside Australia.

Australian Map with Vessel Entry Requirements

View a map of Australia's first points of entry for vessels for the plants, animals and goods that may only be landed at certain points as well as points that will manage vessel sanitation certification.

Vessels entering Australia could unknowingly carry unwanted pests and diseases that can threaten our unique flora and fauna, our aquaculture and agricultural industries as well as human health. Australia accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity so it is important that the spread of pests and diseases is prevented - making Australia's biosecurity laws among the strictest in the world.

The department makes sure that all vessels arriving in Australian territory from overseas comply with International Health Regulations and that all biosecurity risks posed by the vessel are properly managed.

This is achieved by monitoring, assessing and managing the risks associated with vessels, crew, marine pests and ballast water of all international vessels arriving in Australia.

Many types of vessels enter Australian territory. Department legislation manages them in two streams:

  1. Commercial vessels: Including barges, military, livestock, cruise vessels, Australian vessels and offshore installations.
  1. Non-commercial vessels such as recreational vessels, yachts and private superyachts. Vessels with timber components have additional requirements, whether sailed or imported.

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.

Other information

The Department’s Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC’s) contact details are 1300 004 605 (free call in Australia) or outside Australia + 61 8 8201 6185. The MNCC’s operating hours are Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST): Weekdays (Monday-Friday): 0700-1900 hours and Weekends (Saturday & Sunday): 0900-1700 hours

These operating hours will be supplemented with an additional on-call arrangement for urgent assessments and biosecurity incidents. Weekdays (Monday-Friday): 1900-2030 hours and Weekends (Saturday & Sunday): 1700-2030 hours.

Last reviewed: 30 November 2020
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