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 Territory Ports
1 New South Wales (NSW) Gold Coast
2   Newcastle
3   Port of Botany Bay
4   Port Kembla
5   Sydney
6 Victoria (Vic) Geelong
7   Melbourne
8   Portland
9   Westernport
10 Queensland (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
21 Western Australia (WA) Albany
22   Broome
23   Bunbury
24   Dampier
25   Esperance
26   Fremantle
27   Geraldton
28   Port Hedland
29   Port Walcott
30   Wyndham
31 South Australia (SA) Port Adelaide
32   Port Lincoln
33 Tasmania (Tas) Burnie
34   Devonport
35   Hobart
36   Launceston
37 Northern Territory (NT) Darwin
38   Melville Bay
39   Milner Bay
40 Christmas Island Christmas 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:

Document Pages File size
Electronically issued from MARS (from May 2017)- with digital signature and seal – as shown in this example PDF 2 95 KB
Electronically issued from MARS (post January 2017)- with digital signature and seal – as shown in this example PDF 2 328 KB
Electronically issued from MARS (pre January 2017)- with digital signature and no stamp – as shown in this example PDF 2 120 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 2 4.7 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: 29 September 2020
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