Customs Clearance

Australia is a popular country to visit, with picturesque places to see and weather to envy, various types of pleasure craft owners choose to come here all-year round, from all corners of the world.

For anyone bringing their vessel into Australia, it is imperative that you understand the requirements of Customs and Border Protection.

Rivergate Marina & Shipyard is an official port of entry for customs clearance in Australia. The customs clearance process can be confusing, however we strive to simplify the process and upon request, Rivergate can assist you with your customs clearance needs.

For some vessels it is worthwhile using the services of an agent. If you would like further information please contact us either via email at or by phone on +61 7 3907 1600.

From 1 July 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will be consolidated into a single Department of Immigration and Border Protection. At this time, the Australian Border Force, a single frontline operational border agency, will be established within the department.

You should familiarise yourself with the information below, which has been summarised from the Australian Government Website for Australian Border Force – which you can review by clicking here (link to change to




What is considered a yacht? 

A sailing ship or motor vessel which is all of the following:

  • not carrying cargo
  • used for sport or pleasure
  • not working commercially


Arriving in Australia

Yacht Operators/Owners intending to bring a yacht into Australia (under its own power) must notify Australian Border Force of the impending arrival before arrival in Australian waters. Impending arrival reports may be made by email to and the requirements may be found at – the process is easy and you will be welcome.


Entering Australia 

As with most countries in the world, Australia is no different and yachts on international voyages that enter Australia must arrive at a port of entry that is designated for the arrival of international yachts, unless permission is granted to arrive at another port in Australia. The official Customs and Quarantine Wharf for vessels arriving in South East Queensland is on the Brisbane River at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard and the first night’s marina berth is free.


Clearance options – Yachts remaining in Australia

For owners of yachts that remain in Australia (after breaking an international voyage) the following options may apply:

  • enter the yacht for what is called home consumption (not applicable for most international cruising yachts)
  • enter the yacht for warehousing (no duty or GST is paid)
  • make a temporary importation for a maximum stay of 12 months – extensions can be applied for at the end of 12 months
  • obtain a control permit (control permits are only available for pleasure craft that arrive under their own power) – also commonly referred to as a cruising permit for up to 12 months – no security required – extensions can be applied for at the end of 12 months


Duty and GST

Yachts being used for private pleasure purposes by an Owner that is not an Australian resident are not normally subject to assessment for duty and GST. For information on import declarations visit http://www.border.



Yachts intended to be sold or offered for sale in Australia must be entered for home consumption or entered into a warehouse, pending sale.


Repair and Refit

An international yacht undergoing maintenance during its visit to Australia can be GST and Duty exempt for the goods and services that will be re-exported with the vessel when it departs Australia – a significant advantage when considering Australia as a destination for your yachts maintenance.


Entry for warehousing

Current licensed warehouse facilities in Australia only allow for yachts to be lifted and placed on a hardstand. A yacht may be entered into a licensed warehouse without duty and GST being paid. Yachts in a warehouse may be sold (conditions apply) or offered for sale. Yachts may be entered for home consumption or for export from a warehouse.


Control Permits 

Tourists and eligible foreign corporations/entities may be granted a Control Permit to sail in Australia if the primary purpose of the visit is for touring purposes. A Control Permit is issued for up to 12 months. Control Permits are not available to commercial operators of yachts or other ships that are intended to operate in Australia for reward, or to be sold or offered for sale.


Quarantine Examination and Clearance

The Department of Agriculture conduct vessel inspections on arrival. Inspections will be conducted at the first port of arrival in Australia. More information can be found at

Typically, for yachts that are not trying to break Australian laws and are just a normal International Cruising Yacht,  Australian Border Force inspections are completed at Rivergate Marina & Shipyards designated floating Customs and Quarantine berth, in around 40 minutes.



If required – not all visitors will require a visa – visas are valid for up to 12 months from the date of issue. Crew issued with a visa may enter Australia on multiple occasions during the 12 months validity of the visa, seek an extension, etc.

Information on visa or immigration matters can be found at

For other Customs and Border Protection matters visit

The entry into Australia of a bonafide cruising yacht for cruising purposes for an initial 12 month period is  straight forward. Bribery and or corruption are not part of Australian culture. Extensions of time are available and if you are an international visitor simply wishing to cruise Australian waters for pleasure, you will find the Australian Boarder Force Authorities pleasant, courteous and helpful. Australia is a politically stable country with a high level of security.


Fees and charges

Fees and Charges are not expensive and are in line with what yachts expect to pay. Don’t be misled by incorrect information, Australia is receptive to international cruising yachts. Costs can be identified well before you arrive so if in doubt, just ask.


The above is a guide only. In all instances compliance with Customs law is required to export, import, obtain clearances, obtain cruising approval and take delivery of yachts in Australia. We hope to see you DOWNUNDER; we believe you will enjoy the experience!