New Australian Superyacht Visa

8 January 2009 By Di Thompson

The new Australian superyacht work visa is making life easier for foreign flag vessel crew visiting Down Under.

Yachting industry group Superyacht Base Australia has been working with the National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) to formulate a superyacht policy that recognizes international crew qualifications, granting foreign yacht crew temporary work status in Australia. This temporary visa allows crew members to work on board vessels over 24 meters (78'9"), and remain in Australia for up to 12 months.

Visa number 488 has replaced the interim visa number 456 since October 2008, and more than 30 crew visas have been processed to date.

Lance Cushion, CEO of Superyacht Base Australia (SYBA), says “We have been lobbying with the Australian Federal Government for some time now because the existing visa arrangement was proving a hurdle to opening up the market in Australian waters to visiting yachts wishing to charter here.”

In 2007, some 50 superyachts visited the Southern Hemisphere, gracing Australia’s shores and enjoying all that the country and its wonderful cruising grounds have to offer. This new visa system opens the region to the global charter market.

The Department of Immigration has been working with crew agents around the country to assist in ironing out any difficulties associated with the paperwork side of the application.

“Changes are being made with each issue arising from the process,” says Geoff Majer of Major Yacht Services, an agency headquartered in Sydney. “The paperwork is quite involved and…most captains and crew are finding the current arrangement somewhat busy.”

Carrie Carter of Carter Marine Agencies in Cairns comments, “This is a totally new process, and like anything, it will have its grievances.”

One excellent feature of the new superyacht visa, however, is that you do not need to make a personal appearance to apply for it. You can download it directly from the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizen Website at from anywhere in the world. All the information you need about how the visa works is provided in a systematic guide to track you through.

You can nominate a validity period of three, six, or 12 months for each multiple entry crew visa. All applicants must be over 18 years of age, and meet eligibility requirements consisting of a medical check and character references. In addition, all crew need to be sponsored to work in Australia by the owner or captain of the vessel on which they are employed, and the visa is only valid for work on that vessel.

There are no application fees for the superyacht crew visa. However, you will need to have the following items in order:

  1. Signed employment contract
  2. Letter from owner or captain on company letterhead confirming your employment status
  3. Evidence of the vessel’s registration
  4. A copy of the vessel’s insurance certificate or survey papers
  5. Revision of materials by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans

Obligations for applicants and sponsors are set out in detail on their Website:

Should your application for superyacht crew status provide all suitable documentation and your eligibility requirements are satisfactory, expect a wait of two to four weeks from your date of lodgment to receive a reply.

Good Luck!