Commercial vessel biosecurity reporting

All commercial vessels must use MARS for vessel pre-arrival reporting.

Commercial vessel types that must use MARS to report noting that some vessels having additional requirements to be met:

Australian vessels Cruise Heavy lift Ro-Ros (Roll On Roll Off)
Barges Fishing Military Superyachts - chartered
Break bulk General cargo Livestock Tankers
Container Government Offshore installations Tugs

Barges and towed vessels

Barges and dredges are classified as commercial vessels by the department and are subject to biosecurity pre-arrival reporting requirements. A barge is a flat-bottomed vessel typically pushed or towed for the transport of heavy goods. Towed vessels include, but are not limited to the following vessel types:

  • barges (dumb barges; jack-up barges; pipe-laying barges)
  • dredges
  • mobile offshore drilling units (semi-submersible rigs; jack-up rigs)
  • floatels (floating accommodation barges).

Where vessels are towed from an international port and transferred to an Australian vessel outside Australian territory for delivery into a port, the master of the (Australian) vessel is required to submit pre-arrival reporting.

Cruise vessels

The department considers cruise vessels to be a high biosecurity risk due to a number of factors, including:

  • the large number of crew and passengers on board increases the risk of spreading human diseases of biosecurity concern
  • passengers disembarking with souvenirs from overseas countries which may contain wood, sand/soil, seeds, grass/straw or other plant material, all of which are subject to biosecurity control
  • the large amount of food items and stores carried on board
  • the amount of waste to be managed
  • live plants on board.

Operators of cruise vessels must comply with requirements administered by the department to protect against these risks.

Cruise vessel pre-arrival reporting

Cruise industry agents may submit proposed itineraries up to two years in advance for the next cruise season. Reporting must be submitted to the Maritime Travellers Processing Committee (MTPC) for approval by the Australian Government agencies concerned. See the MTPC details on the web.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, cruise vessels wishing to enter a port that is non first point of entry must apply for and be granted permission by the department, prior to arrival at the port.

In addition to the above requirements, cruise vessels must also submit the following documents to the department prior to arrival:

  • Pre-Arrival Report (PAR) - Cruise vessels entering the Australian territory are required to submit this form within 96 to 12 hours of their estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the first point of entry.
  • Ballast Water Report (BWR) – A Ballast Water Report must be submitted before or with the PAR.

The master must complete this form to report to the department any change to the information originally reported on the PAR, prior to the vessel entering the next Australian port of call.

  • Vessel masters must advise the department of changes to previously reported information about crew/passenger movements, human health and waste disposal. Only the relevant section of this form should be completed to report the changes.
  • This form must be submitted to the MNCC 96 to 12 hours prior to the vessel’s arrival at the next Australian port.
  • Where illness or death on board the vessel is reported, the vessel master will be required to answer additional questions to assess the public health risk associated with the vessel prior to arrival at the port.
  • Live plants conveyance log – cruise vessels are required to provide the department with a list of all live plants on board the vessel.

Cruise vessel day trippers

Crew and passengers going ashore for sight-seeing only and returning to the vessel the same day are ‘day trippers’ and are subject to inspection by department biosecurity officers. Day trippers are not permitted to take biosecurity risk material off the vessel.

Biosecurity risk material is any good that poses a risk of introducing any exotic weed, pest or disease into Australia. Biosecurity risk material includes goods with feathers, seeds and other material of animal and/or plant origin, including souvenirs, and certain foodstuffs.

All bags and goods are subject to biosecurity control and will be inspected by biosecurity officers. If there is an unacceptable biosecurity risk present, a biosecurity officer may direct you to treat the goods (at your own cost) following which the goods will be returned to you. Goods that cannot be treated will be forfeited to the Commonwealth and destroyed.

The department has produced a short announcement specifically for shore excursion passengers. The shore excursion announcement is to be played as:

  • the sole announcement where there are no disembarking passengers
  • following the disembarking passenger announcement, where there are both disembarking and shore excursion passengers.

For more information visit Travelling or sending goods to Australia.

Cruise vessel passenger announcements

The person in charge or the operator of an incoming vessel, or aircraft, that is subject to biosecurity control because of subsection 191(2) or (4), must ensure that each person (including a member of the crew) on board the aircraft or vessel is given information about biosecurity requirements under the laws of the Australian Commonwealth.

The content and form of information given under subsection (1) must have been approved by the Director of Biosecurity or the Director of Human Biosecurity. The information may be given in writing or orally, including by means of an audio, or audio‑visual, recording.

The following caution is to apply to the person in charge or the operator of an incoming aircraft or vessel that is subject to biosecurity control because of s191(2) or (4), in accordance with s220 of the Biosecurity Act.

‘You may be liable to a civil penalty if you fail to ensure that each person (including a member of the crew) on board the aircraft/vessel is given approved information about biosecurity requirements under the laws of the Commonwealth’.

Either the passenger announcement or shore excursion announcement must be aired on all international cruise ships prior to arrival in Australia. The biosecurity passenger video, ‘Don’t be sorry, just declare it’, must be played as the mandatory passenger announcement where the message is currently delivered in English. The biosecurity passenger video and announcement must not to be edited.

Translation Services - Phone (in Australia): 131 450

The department provides transcripts and recordings of announcements to passengers, for use by cruise vessel operators. Translated versions are also available for people from non-English speaking backgrounds. This information includes awareness material.

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Livestock carriers

Livestock vessels entering Australian territory are considered to be of high biosecurity risk due to the nature of the cargo.

Information provided to the department in pre-arrival reporting, such as the Pre-Arrival Report (PAR) and Ballast Water Report and statement by the person in charge of livestock vessel is used to assess the actual risks attributable to individual vessels.

All livestock vessels must undergo inspection on every visit to Australia, irrespective of the vessel’s history or last port of call.

All livestock vessels are inspected at berth. Vessels must also be thoroughly cleaned disinfected, (with Soda Ash) and disinsected prior to arrival, in accordance with biosecurity procedures. For more information see: Information for livestock exporters and industry participants.

Assessing the biosecurity risk

On arrival at an Australian port, that is a first point of entry, an inspection of the vessel by biosecurity officers may be conducted to assess and manage potential biosecurity risks.

These risks include:

  • human health disease concerns from travellers
  • Food stores and galleys that could be housing stored product pests or diseased fruit and vegetables
  • Waste (garbage) such as dry stores, cooked and uncooked meat, vegetable scraps and eggs) as a breeding ground for exotic pests and diseases
  • Ballast water
  • Marine pests (biofouling)
  • Animals and rodents including ships pets, hitch hikers or imported animals carrying disease
  • Plants and insects and disease carrying organisms such as souvenirs with plant and animal content and items with feathers and seeds that can carry exotic pests, disease organisms or plant pests.
Last reviewed: 12 August 2021
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