Taking your boat overseas

Learn about what you need to do before taking your boat overseas.

On 1 July 2024, changes to the administrative arrangements for assessing the adequacy of recreational boats departing for overseas will come into effect, with Maritime NZ carrying out the administration and delivery of this function.

Further information will be available on this page soon. Enquiries can be sent to:


Your requirements

If you need to obtain a Category 1 Safety Certificate, please click here.

If you already have a Category 1 Safety Certificate and need to register your vessel, please click here.

If you already have a Category 1 Safety Certificate, have registered your vessel, and need to provide a notification of your upcoming departure, please click here.

If you are the master of a pleasure craft that you intend to take offshore, there are a number of safety and administrative matters that must be taken care of before you can depart.

Under section 21 of the Maritime Transport Act, a master of a pleasure craft must notify the Director of Maritime New Zealand of their intention to depart New Zealand before they leave. Additionally, they must also:

  • satisfy the Director that the vessel and its safety equipment are adequate for the voyage; and
  • satisfy the Director that the vessel is adequately crewed for the voyage; and
  • observe any other relevant maritime rules.

All NZ registered vessels must undergo a safety inspection prior to departure to obtain a Category 1 safety certificate. The inspection will focus on:

  • the design and construction of the boat being suitable for the voyage and meeting the required standards
  • the safety and communication equipment meeting specific requirements and ensuring all safety equipment is well within its expiry date
  • the skipper and crews’ ability to undertake the proposed voyage safely and demonstrate preparedness for emergency situations.

The decision on whether to grant section 21 clearance is made by the Director, or their delegate, (i.e. a Yacht Inspector).

In addition to the above requirements, all vessels must be registered as a New Zealand ship with the Registrar of Ships at Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

To understand what you need to do, download the below flow chart to assist you in following the correct process to obtain a Category 1 safety certificate to take your boat overseas.

Getting a Category 1 safety certificate [PDF: 103kB, 1 page]


Registering your vessel will give you the protection of the New Zealand Government. The registration papers will provide proof of identity similar to a passport.

Register now

Inspections and obtaining a Category 1 safety certificate

The main purpose of the safety inspection is to ensure those departing remain as safe as possible throughout the voyage, and that they can get help if anything goes seriously wrong.

In order to perform a thorough inspection, the vessel must be out of the water.

Who inspects vessels?

The inspections are conducted by inspectors approved by Yachting New Zealand under delegation from the Director of Maritime NZ. There is a nationwide network of inspectors who are available to provide advice and assistance with any aspect of sailing or power vessel safety.

We encourage masters to engage with Yachting New Zealand early in the process so that they can support you throughout and ensure any last-minute problems can be avoided.

Click the link below to go to the Yachting New Zealand website to find out what Category 1 requirements consist of and to contact an inspector.

Get a safety inspection

Notifying Maritime NZ

All masters must notify Maritime NZ of their intended departure.

Please click the button below to complete an intention to depart notification form.

Intention to depart notification form


The Director’s guidelines

The Maritime New Zealand Director’s Guidelines covers both legal and operational considerations when conducting section 21 inspections. The guidelines also cover the technical maritime criteria to be applied when conducting section 21 inspections. The Director’s Guidelines are complementary to, and must be considered alongside Yachting New Zealand’s Safety Regulations of Sailing.

Yachting New Zealand Yacht Inspectors Manual [PDF: 963kB, 34 pages]


Other information

Please also refer to other important information below.

Ballast water management

If your vessel can carry non-permanent ballast water, and will be going overseas, you may have to ensure that the ballast water management systems onboard meet international standards.

Find out more on ballast water management

NZ Customs

Information on NZ Customs requirements for vessels departing New Zealand can be found on their website.

NZ Customs

Related information:

Prep and maintain your boat

Learn how to keep your boat in safe working condition.

You and your boat

Check your gear and prepare

Know what gear you need onboard and how to keep it in good working order.

Check your gear