Safety at sea – SAMSA Regulations

The Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations of 2007 states that all sailing vessels of 9m or more in length (and motor vessels of 15 horsepower or more) used for pleasure and recreation have to be listed or registered.

  • Listing is a simpler and less expensive process, and can be done by SAS.  When you list your boat you get an “SA” number if it is a sailing vessel or a “ZA” number if it is a power vessel. The SA or ZA number has to be displayed on your boat.
  • Registration is a more complex and expensive process. If you wish to “go foreign” on your yacht you will also need to register it through SAMSA.  SAS can help you with the registration process. On registration your boat will get an “ON” number.

The 2007 Regulations also define the safety requirements that have to be met by all small vessels. However the regulations specifically state that all sailing vessels of 9 meters or more in length (and all motor vessels of 15 horsepower or more) have to have an annual safety inspection to ensure that they comply.

If your vessel is listed through SAS then the annual safety inspection has also to be done through SAS. Once you have passed this safety inspection, you get a Certificate of Fitness (COF) that is valid for 12 months from the date of inspection.

If your vessel is registered, and you wish to “go foreign” you need a Local General Safety Certificate (LGSC). The LGSC is issued by SAMSA and is valid for 12 months. The annual safety inspection has to be done by a SAMSA approved SAS appointed safety surveyor. There will be one or more SAMSA approved SAS appointed safety surveyors in your region.