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 spread of international listed 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 also be required for all vessels on international voyages that call at an international State port, other than Australian port, 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 Australian port where the vessel is located when due for re-certification.

Australian 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 online portal for vessel management, the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS).

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

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

At the inspection, the current Sanitation Certificate needs to be sighted for validation by a department biosecurity officer, either a printed or electronic version.. 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 port without a valid certificate will be subject to additional SSC biosecurity conditions.

For all the designated First Points of Entry for vessel arriving in Australia, see the map of Australia's first points of entry for vessels. This map provides the details for the plants, animals and goods that may only be landed at each point (or ports) as well as the points that manage vessel sanitation certification.

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
  • no vector reservoirs (risk of mosquitoes)
  • no measures are required to control vectors
  • relevant certification of vessel facilities are all 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
  • there are subsequent measures applied to control them
  • where relevant certification of Vessel facilities is invalid, out of date and/or out of order.

Ship Sanitation Certificate Issuance

Australia uses a paperless system for the production of ship sanitation certification. Accordingly, Australia’s ship sanitation certificates reflect modern certification that is electronically issued without a signature, but with a unique identifier for authorisation.

The department’s online portal (MARS) issues the electronic Ship Sanitation Certificates.

International country Health Authorities can expect to be presented with the following form of the MARS issued Australian ship sanitation certification:

Document Pages File size
SAMPLE ONLY electronically issued ship sanitation certificate from MARS - with digital signature and seal PDF 2 220 KB

International 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 the Maritime NCC, 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: 20 January 2021
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