Seagoing ships and minor ports

What are seagoing ships and minor ports?

Seagoing ships regularly visit minor ports along the NSW coast and the operator or master of that ship is required to make arrangements for the visit, in line with the Harbour Master Directions (PDF, 200.9 KB) for NSW minor ports and Harbour Master Directions (PDF, 554.35 KB) for Lord Howe Island.

A seagoing ship is a vessel of more than 45.72 metres in length that carries cargo or passengers for hire or reward. It normally operates on voyages between ports.

A minor port is a defined area of water as described in the Harbour Master Direction or in the list below.

Who will manage the visit?

The master or operator of a seagoing ship needs approval from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) Maritime or the Port Authority of NSW to visit a minor port on the NSW coast. The size and type of ship governs which agency provides approval.

Maritime will administer the visit when the vessel is:

  • between 45.72 metres and less than 80 metres in length
  • less than 500 GT (Gross Tonnage)
  • not a Cruise Ship.


The Port Authority of NSW will administer a visit when the ship is:

  • a Cruise Ship
  • 80 metres or greater in length
  • 500 GT or greater.

To advise the Port Authority of NSW of your intention to visit a minor port, and to make the necessary arrangements, please follow this link to Port Authority of NSW website.

When Transport for NSW manages the visit

The vessel operator or master needs to:

  • contact TfNSW Maritime's Marine Pollution and Emergency Response Duty Officer by phone: +61 (0) 2 9962 9074 or email:
  • complete a Minor Ports Visit Request (PDF, 253.84 KB) for each minor port to be visited and provide the requested information. This should be done as early as possible - around six weeks before the visit and at least seven days before the proposed visit date.

TfNSW Maritime staff will liaise with the operator or master to ensure:

  • the visit is appropriate for the minor port
  • operational documentation is in order and any proposed activities are suitable
  • any requirements or conditions for the visit are clearly communicated.

TfNSW Maritime will consider the safety of the ship, other waterway users and impacts of the visiting vessel on the local environment. This process is in line with the Harbour Master Directions (PDF, 200.9 KB) for NSW minor ports and Harbour Master Directions for Lord Howe Island.

Minor port area maps

Dangerous goods

Any commercial vessel (not only seagoing ships) carrying Dangerous Goods as cargo into an NSW minor port must obtain approval at least 24 hours before entering the proposed port.

Coastal bars

Several NSW minor ports contain waters defined under Schedule 1 of the Marine Safety Regulation 2016 as coastal bars.

Coastal bars add increased risks for ships or their tenders. Additional conditions for the visit may be placed on ships if crossing a bar is required.

For more information

See the Harbour Master Directions (PDF, 200.9 KB) for NSW minor ports, Harbour Master Directions for Lord Howe Island and Seagoing Ships Visiting NSW Minor Ports Factsheet (PDF, 462.68 KB).