Crew licensing requirements

Certificates of Competency

By law, any person working as a certified crew member on a commercial vessel in Australia must hold the relevant Certificate of Competency.

This ensures that people operating commercial vessels are competent and medically fit for their assigned tasks and areas of operation.

National certificates

Under the new Part D of the National Standards for Commercial Vessels, if you’re applying for or renewing a Certificate of Competency, you will be able to apply for a five year ‘National System’ certificate by meeting the specified requirements.

Once issued, a Certificate of Competency allows you to operate anywhere in Australian waters subject to the operational and distance limitations of the certificate.

NSW Perpetual Certificates

Under legislation introduced in the NSW Marine Safety (Commercial Vessels) Regulation 2010, all NSW perpetual certificates expired on 31 December 2012.

NSW recreational boating exemption

If you hold a Certificate of Competency as a master or coxswain, you are not required to hold a general boat driving licence or Personal Watercraft licence in NSW.

This exemption does not apply to engineering certificates, general purpose hands or masters of vehicular ferries in chains.

Important note

Holders of the following are exempt from requiring a General Boat Driver Licence (GBL), or Personal Water Craft Licence (PWC) in NSW:

  • Coxswain 3
  • Coxswain 2
  • Coxswain 1
  • Master <24m
  • Master <45m
  • Master <100 m or approved equivalent.

Licensing requirements

You need to meet various qualification and experience standards in order to apply for a Certificate of Competency.

Coastal bar crossing licence

Masters of Class 1 and Class 2 vessels carrying passengers, are required to hold a bar crossing licence, issued by Transport for NSW (TfNSW), to cross specified coastal bars in NSW.

Bar crossing licence

A bar crossing licence is a marine safety licence granted under Section 30 of the Marine Safety Act 1998 and clause 117 of the Marine Safety Regulation 2016. Specified coastal bars are listed in Schedule 1 of the Marine Safety Regulation 2016.

To apply for a licence to cross a coastal bar you will need to provide evidence that you have completed at least 10 crossings (out to sea and return is 1 crossing) for each coastal bar that you are seeking a licence.

You can do this by completing a Statutory Declaration for a NSW Coastal Bar Crossing Licence, and the same should be done by the qualified witness verifying the required bar crossings by completing a Statutory Declaration.

If applying for more than 1 Coastal Bar crossing, the evidence required for any subsequent coastal bar crossing licence, is only for five crossings of the bar.

These crossings are to be completed under the supervision of a person with a bar crossing licence for the port concerned and the applicant has to act as master of the vessel.

To submit your application, you'll need to provide:

You can lodge your application:

  • via email: send application and all required documents to
  • by post:
    Send application and all required documents to:
    Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety
    Locked Bag 5100
    Camperdown NSW 1450
  • In person: take the application and all required documents to any Service NSW centre

Your licence will be sent to you by registered mail.

Conditions applying to bar crossings

Crossings are to only take place during daylight hours and must not be made if the maximum wind speed is in excess of 20 knots or the swell height is greater than two metres.

Masters must ensure that all passengers and special personnel are in an open area of the vessel and wear an approved life jacket when crossing a bar.

Fishing vessels & recreational vessels

Masters of fishing vessels do not require a bar crossing licence to cross a coastal bar and the conditions described above do not apply.

Further information about safety and rules for users of recreational vessels, including crossing coastal bars, can be found in the Boating Handbook.

Certificate of Competency (CoC)

If you hold a Certificate of Competency issued by AMSA, it is likely that its conditions will not include the bar crossing licence that you require to operate in NSW.

In that case, you need to apply for an NSW coastal bar crossing licence and pay the prescribed fee.

Remember, if you are the master of a Class 1 and/or Class 2 vessel carrying passengers, you must not operate the vessel across an NSW coastal bar unless you hold a bar crossing licence in relation to that coastal bar.

Note: TfNSW may refuse to issue a Coastal Bar crossing licence under clauses 76 and 117(3) of the Marine Safety Regulation 2016.