Thinking of chartering a Superyacht in Australia?

Large yachts, also known as ‘superyachts’ or ‘white boats’ may be acquired solely for recreational use, for commercial use or a combination of the two. If you are thinking of chartering a superyacht in Australia, there are some things you may need to consider before you begin your journey. 

The LY3 Code

Vessels in Australia may be subject to regulation by what is known to be the LY3 Code. Originally known as the United Kingdom Maritime Coastguard Agency Large Commercial Yacht Code, the LY3 Code was adopted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for domestic regulation. The LY3 Code is also used for the survey and certification of sail and motor training vessels.

For the purposes of the LY3 Code, a large yacht is a motor or sailing vessel:

  1. of 24 metres and over in load line lengths;
  2. of 150 gross tonnage or more;
  3. in commercial use for sport of pleasure, and do not carry cargo; and
  4. do not carry more than 12 passengers.

Australian Large Yachts

Regarding domestic vessels, the LY3 Code does not apply to recreational vessels. Recreational vessels are vessels that are solely used for recreational purposes and have no connection with commercial, research or government activity. For vessels that are not recreational, the LY3 Code will only apply to vessels that were constructed on or after 2016. There are some exemptions that Vessel owners or captains can apply for.

Foreign Large Yachts

While the obligations of surveying, certification and maintenance of foreign flagged large yachts usually rests on the owner or operation and the flag State, Australia can apply the LY3 Code to commercial vessels. Under the Navigation Act 2012, all foreign flag vessels are subject to port state inspections. As well as port inspections, the vessel’s certificates and documentation will be examined.

Chartering a Foreign Flagged Large Yacht

One of the biggest barriers to growth in the Australian superyacht industry has been the difficulty that owners and captains of foreign flagged superyachts had to go through in order to charter in Australia.

As of 2015, after 12 months of lobbying from the Australian super yachting industry, the Australian government changed the legislation to allow for easier access to foreign flagged vessels owners and captions to charter in Australia.

Using a temporary superyacht charter licence under the Coastal Trading Act 2012, the department of infrastructure allows for foreign flagged vessels operating under this licence to be chartered, refitted and repaired for a period of 12 months without being required to fully import the vessel.

The licence includes:

  • a $400 licence fee;
  • the ability to charter for 12 months;
  • a superyacht crew visa of 12 months;
  • a payable amount of 10% in GST; and
  • refits and repairs can be conducted during the 12 month stay without having to have the vessel imported.

Vaarzon-Morel Lawyers, the 2016 winner and 2017 nominee of the Australian Marine Industry Export Award for best export performance in the small exporter category, can assist in temporary charter applications and all other maritime law related matters, ensuring that your voyage runs as smoothly as possible.

Our principle lawyer, Marcel Vaarzon-Morel, with a lifetime of boating experience and 30 years of marine industry experience as both a shipwright and business owner, and his team can provide you with timely and clear solutions to your problems, regardless of where in the world your superyacht, yacht, boat or maritime issues are.