News 24 May, 2013

Australia - Fines for Late Submission of Crew Reports

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Club correspondents Thynne & Macartney, Brisbane have advised of a recent case where a magistrates court in Brisbane imposed a sizeable fine on a shipowner due to the late submission of the crew report to customs.

Under Section 64ACB of the Australian Customs Act of 1901 a vessel or operator is required to submit a crew report when a vessel is due to arrive at an Australian port from a place outside Australia, detailing each member of crew that will be on board upon arrival. The crew report must be submitted a minimum of 96 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival. However, if the voyage is less than 96 hours, the reporting period for submissions is reduced:

  • Voyage duration of 72 hours or more, but less than 96 hours – at least 72 hours prior to arrival.
  • Voyage duration of 48 hours or more, but less than 72 hours – at least 48 hours prior to arrival.
  • Voyage duration of 24 hours or more, but less than 48 hours – at least 24 hours prior to arrival.

Crew reports may be submitted electronically, by fax or handed to the customs office at the first port of call. A signed original will be required from the vessel after arrival.

Late submission of the crew report is an offence which carries a maximum fine of A$ 6,600 per crewmember, therefore the larger the crew the greater the possible penalty.

The vessel involved in the recent case in Brisbane submitted the crew report 56 hours prior to arrival, 40 hours late. There were 23 crewmembers on board; hence the maximum fine was potentially A$ 151,800. However, the Australian Customs Service decided to impose a fine of A$ 1,000 per person, amounting to A$ 23,000 overall. The local magistrate subsequently reduced the fine to A$ 660 per person (10% of the maximum penalty permitted since this was the vessel’s first offence) and the total sum was rounded down to A$ 15,000.

Higher penalties may be expected if a vessel repeats the offence.

It can be seen that a relatively small administrative oversight may give rise to a significant fine, especially in the case of vessels with larger crews such as passenger ships. Members are therefore advised to ensure that their vessels submit their customs paperwork well in advance of the minimum reporting period when trading to Australia.

Further details on pre-arrival reporting requirements including the crew report can be found on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website. Members requiring further assistance should contact the Loss Prevention department.