Ship sanitation certification

​​​​​​The department administers Ship Sanitation Certification (SSC) requirements on behalf of the Department of Health.

Ship Sanitation Certification (SSC) is aimed at controlling the international spread of human diseases by controlling any vectors of these diseases that could potentially be carried on a vessel.

This is achieved by inspecting for and controlling animal vectors (rodents and mosquitoes), preventing the discharge of untreated ballast water, checking certification of potable water and sewage, and biosecurity measures for human carriers of disease.

Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificates and Ship Sanitation Control Certificates are issued in accordance with Article 39 of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). Ship sanitation certificates may be required for all vessels on international voyages that call at a port of a State that is a party to the IHR.

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Validity of Ship Sanitation Certificates

Certificates remain valid for a period of six months from the date of issue. This period may be extended by one month if the inspection or control measures required cannot be accomplished at the declared port where the vessel is located when due for recertification.

Renewal of a ship sanitation control exemption certificate may be requested by the master or agent of a vessel when submitting the Pre-Arrival Report (PAR) or by submitting a Ship Sanitation Certificate Service Request through the department's electronic vessel management system (MARS).

Ship sanitation inspections and issuing of subsequent certificates can only be issued at ports that are declared by the Director of Human Biosecurity on behalf of the Department of Health. These declared ship sanitation points (ports) are as follows:

No.Australian State or TerritoryPorts
1New South Wales (NSW)Gold Coast
2 Newcastle
3 Port of Botany Bay
4 Port Kembla
5 Sydney
6Victoria (Vic)Geelong
7 Melbourne
8 Portland
9 Westernport
10Queensland (Qld)Bowen
11 Brisbane
12 Bundaberg
13 Cairns
14 Gladstone
15 Hay Point
16 Mackay
17 Port Alma
18 Port Kennedy
19 Townsville
20 Weipa
21Western Australia (WA)Albany
22 Broome
23 Bunbury
24 Dampier
25 Esperance
26 Fremantle
27 Geraldton
28 Port Hedland
29 Port Walcott
30 Wyndham
31South Australia (SA)Port Adelaide
32 Port Lincoln
33Tasmania (Tas)Burnie
34 Devonport
35 Hobart
36 Launceston
37Northern Territory (NT)Darwin
38 Melville Bay
39 Milner Bay
40Christmas IslandChristmas Island

For all details of first points of entry, see 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 manage vessel sanitation certification.

At the inspection, the current Sanitation Certificate needs to be sighted by the department, either a printed or electronic version for validation by a biosecurity officer. The certificate must be issued by an appropriate authority in the country of origin, and regardless of the language of issue, must be identifiable as to what it certifies, and any specified conditions. Any vessel that arrives at a point without a valid certificate will be subject to additional conditions.

Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate

A Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate is issued when, at the time of inspection, there are: no signs of rodent or mosquito vectors; vector reservoirs (risk of mosquitoes); and no measures are required to control vectors; and the relevant certification of vessel facilities are in order.

Ship Sanitation Control Certificate

A Ship Sanitation Control Certificate is issued when, at the time of inspection, there are signs or evidence of rodent or mosquito vectors or vector reservoirs, and subsequent measures are applied to control them; or relevant certification of Vessel facilities is invalid, out of date and/or out of order.

Ship Sanitation Certificate Issuance

Department stamps are no longer applied to relevant forms and certificates such as maritime vessel Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate, Ship Sanitation Control Certificate and Ship Sanitation Extension Certificates.

The department has implemented the online portal Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS), which will issue electronic Ship Sanitation Certificates with unique Certificate Numbers.

During a transition period to MARS, Overseas country Health Authorities can expect to be presented one of the following four forms of Australian ship sanitation certification:

DocumentPagesFile size
Electronically issued from MARS (from May 2017)- with digital signature and seal – as shown in this example PDF 295 KB
Electronically issued from MARS (post January 2017)- with digital signature and seal – as shown in this example PDF 2328 KB
Electronically issued from MARS (pre January 2017)- with digital signature and no stamp – as shown in this example PDF 2120 KB
Manually issued – with an officer signature but no stamp (the officer will initial where the stamp was previously applied) – as shown in this example PDF 24.7 MB

Extensions to Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificates will be given effect by a biosecurity officer after endorsing a current and valid certificate. This can be done either by email correspondence or on the vessel. Note: Department stamps will no longer be applied to printed certificates by officers.

Overseas country Health Authorities can verify the validity of an Australian Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate or a Ship Sanitation Control Certificate by contacting the department’s Maritime National Coordination Centre (MNCC) and quoting the Certificate Number:

Email: Maritime NCC or telephone: 1300 004 605 within Australia or +61 8 8201 6185 outside Australia.

International Sewage Pollution Prevention

All international vessels that are greater than 400 gross tonnes or are certified to carry more than 15 people are required to carry an International Sewage Pollution Prevention (ISPP) Certificate under the requirement of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex IV. The ISPP certificate certifies that the sewage systems on board an international ship are in compliance with MARPOL requirements.

*Definition of Vector: an insect or other animal which normally transports an infectious agent that constitutes a public health risk (International Health Regulations).


Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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