To operate a vessel for commercial purposes you may be required to hold a local knowledge certificate (LKC) in addition to a certificate of competency.

Visit the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website for information about the certificate of competency.

A local knowledge certificate is required where the risks, due to local conditions, are sufficient to justify additional permissioning requirements.

Local knowledge certificates are the responsibility of Safe Transport Victoria.

Local Knowledge Certificate applications

Apply for a new Local Knowledge Certificate (LKC) here

For renewal of LKC, apply here.

Any person seeking to apply for a LKC is advised to read the LKC Determination before applying. The Determination is available here. 

LKC application payments

On receipt of your application, an invoice will be emailed to you with details on how to pay.

Review process and appeals

Yes, if you would like to challenge a decision, you can ask Safe Transport Victoria to review it. You have 28 days from when you find out about the decision to make this request and if you need more time, you can ask for an extension. 

Get in touch with us here if you wish to do this. 

You can also ask VCAT to review a decision. You must make this request within 28 days of being told about the decision, or if you asked for a detailed explanation, within 28 days of receiving that explanation or being told you won’t get one. 

The Marine Safety Act 2010 (MSA, sections 289 and 290) outlines this topic in more detail.

General Information

The following types or classes of vessels require a master to hold an LKC to navigate the vessels in the declared waters

Local knowledge declared waters Local knowledge declared waters which are also pilot required waters Local knowledge for vessel entering or leaving port waters via pilot required waters
Vessel type Minimum vessel length Maximum vessel length Minimum vessel length Maximum vessel length Minimum vessel length Maximum vessel length
Class 1 or Class 2 Domestic Commercial Vessel (DCV) >12m Unlimited >12m ≤35m

Local knowledge required if operating a vessel up to and including 35m without any conditions on the LKC.

>12m ≤35m
>35m If operating a vessel greater than 35m in length a LKC must have a condition imposed by the Safety Director as per clause 83 (3) of the MSA allowing the vessel to be operated within pilot required waters without a pilot. >35m Vessels greater than 35m require a licensed pilot or the vessel must be operated by a pilot exempt master.
Class 3 Domestic Commercial Vessel (DCV) that engages in fishing operations >35m Unlimited >35m If operating a vessel greater than 35m in length a LKC must have a condition imposed by the Safety Director as per clause 83 (3) of the MSA allowing the vessel to be operated within pilot required waters without a pilot. >35m Vessels greater than 35m require a licensed pilot or the vessel must be operated by a pilot exempt master.

LKCs are issued to applicants holding a current Certificate of Competency operating vessels greater than 12m in length (greater than 35m if a fishing vessel) however, courses required for the issue of two LKCs are open for the recreational boaters to attend. 

Contact the registered training organisations for more information.

A master of a domestic commercial vessel who is a holder of a certificate of competency as deck crew may apply for the issue of a local knowledge certificate. Holders of engineer level certificates of competency are ineligible. 

The process for the issue of a new certificate now includes a port office visit and a separate exam or course depending on the LKC area. 

Applicants should refer to the Local Knowledge Certificate: Determination for Masters of Domestic Commercial Vessels  for the specific requirements of some local knowledge areas.

When you make an application for a new issue or  wish to renew an existing certificate, a port office visit (POV) will be required. 

This POV is conducted by the harbour master or the assistant harbour master and is an induction to the port and its operations. 

It is also a discussion to ascertain your current knowledge of the relevant port and operations within that port but is separate from the LKC examination process. 

If you have an LKC and it has expired, you will need to apply for a new LKC. This may mean you will need to re-sit any required exams or courses and resubmit any required sea time. You will also need to pay for a new application, not a renewal. 

Medical and eyesight requirements are covered by the requirements of your Certificate of Competency. 

Local knowledge courses cover important information on a range of topics which may be useful for recreational boaters, particularly for those crossing Lakes Entrance Bar or through Port Phillip Heads.

These courses cover in depth topics including tide changes, localised hazards, navigation aids, and local weather conditions. By completing a local knowledge course you will gain a better understanding of vessel traffic and interaction between commercial shipping and recreational boating. 

Recreational boaters operating in these areas can also consider the following courses: 

Relevant Port Authority and registered training organisations have course information which may be helpful, see contact details below. 

Gippsland Ports

At the introduction of the new Determination in 2020, the general LKC for Gippsland Lakes has been discontinued and Cunningham Arm, The Narrows & Reeves Channel have been consolidated into a single LKC that now includes Lakes Entrance and Approaches.

There is no requirement to make changes to your current LKC, however, you are still not permitted to cross Lakes Entrance Bar unless you also currently hold an LKC allowing you to cross the Lakes Entrance Bar.

Upon renewal:

  1. If intending to operate within Lakes Entrance inner channels a port office visit (POV) will be required to renew your LKC and your LKC will exclude Lakes Entrance Bar.
  2. If intending to continue to traverse Lakes Entrance with Passengers – a POV is required.
  3. If intending to continue to traverse Lakes Entrance without Passengers – a POV is required.

At the introduction of the new Determination in 2020,the only change to Corner Inlet is the specific information regarding the channel descriptors.

The new descriptors are as follows:

  • LK 3 includes Toora and Barry Beach Channels to Barry Beach, excluding Lewis Channel and Port Welshpool
  • LK 4 includes Lewis Channel and Port Welshpool, excluding Toora and Barry Beach Channels to Barry Beach

Port Phillip Heads

Not until your current LKC expires. When your current LKC is due to expire you should apply for LKC 15. A POV will be required to update you on changes to the area.

With this change, will I have to do the whole course again or can this be covered when I do my port office visit?

You do not have to do the course again unless your current LKC has expired.

When your current LKC is due to expire you should apply for LKC 15. A port office visit will be required to update you on changes to the area.

General information will be in the Harbour Master Directions (HMD) as well as the Port Information Guide (PIG) on the Ports Victoria website.  


Contacts and Local Area Knowledge Charts

Contact Website
STV Qualifications [email protected] safetransport.vic.gov.au
Ports Victoria Melbourne [email protected]
331 Lorimer St, Port Melbourne 3207
9644 9740
Office manned 8:00am to 4:00pm
https://www.vicports.vic.gov.au/
Ports Victoria Geelong Corio Quay Rd, North Geelong 3215
5225 3500, choose option for Harbour Master
https://geelongport.com.au/
Ports Victoria Hastings [email protected]
1d Stony Point Rd, Crib Point 3919
5979 5500
https://portofhastings.vic.gov.au/
Gippsland Ports Head Office: 97 Main St, Bairnsdale 3875
5150 0500
 https://www.gippslandports.vic.gov.au/
Lakes Entrance Depot: Bullock Island Lakes Entrance
5155 6900
Welshpool: 84 Lewis St, Port Welshpool
5688 1303
Marine Training Services

[email protected]

17 Swanston St Geelong 3220
5229 5432

http://marinetraining.vic.edu.au/
SEAMEC [email protected]

Bullock Island Rd, Lakes Entrance 3909
1300 133 717

https://www.tafegippsland.edu.au/campuses/lakes_entrance