Maritime Levy and fees - general FAQs

We have put together the following general questions and answers to guide you through the Maritime Levy and fees process.

Does the Maritime Levy apply to me?

If you are registered with Maritime NZ as the owner of a commercial vessel, the Maritime Levy and fees changes could affect you.

What Maritime Levy changes came into effect on 1 July 2019?

All Maritime Levy payers are now charged according to three factors; Gross Tonnage, Dead Weight Tonnage, and Passenger Capacity. Passenger capacity is now an important factor for all passenger vessels when calculating the Maritime Levy. This means that if a vessel has a recorded passenger capacity that is much higher than the number of passengers it normally carries, then the Maritime Levy may be higher than what the operator is expecting.

What is the Maritime Levy actually used for?

The Maritime Levy (formally known as the Marine Safety Charge or the MSC) is paid by all commercial maritime operators to fund the regulatory system.The Maritime Levy applies to all New Zealand commercial vessels and foreign commercial vessels visiting New Zealand and must be paid to fund the regulatory system.

Funding from the Maritime Levy allows Maritime New Zealand to maintain important regulatory activities and functions that are critical to maritime safety and protection of the marine environment. In addition, it can be used to fund regulatory activities undertaken by the Authority, the Director, or the Crown in the performance or exercise of functions, duties, or powers under the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

The activities and functions the Maritime Levy pays for includes

  • Participating in the technical work to develop, maintain and update international maritime conventions and agreements, and ensuring that New Zealand’s obligations under these conventions are incorporated into New Zealand legislation
  • First port state control inspections of foreign vessels
  • The provision of information and education to help commercial operators improve maritime safety and protection of the marine environment
  • Investigations and compliance functions, including prosecutions
  • Aids to navigation, and distress and safety communication (radio) services
  • Assisted compliance functions including research, intelligence, issuing guidance and information
  • Systemic risk activities such as targeted safety awareness and other campaigns and industry engagement
  • Routine audits and inspections of domestic operators.

Other Maritime NZ activities are funded outside the Maritime Levy via other mechanisms, such as the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ), our Health and Safety At Work regulator role, recreational boating safety activities, oil pollution incident response activities, and direct regulatory activities to individuals and organisations (paid by fees).

How is my Maritime Levy invoice calculated?

The vessel categories that pay the levy are:

  • New Zealand non-SOLAS under 24 metres
  • New Zealand non-SOLAS 24 metres and over
  • New Zealand SOLAS
  • Foreign non-Passenger
  • Foreign Passenger


  1. ‘SOLAS’ is the Safety of Life at Sea Convention
  2. A ‘New Zealand’ vessel is:
    1. New Zealand registered
    2. Not New Zealand registered but required or entitled to be New Zealand registered
    3. Registered in another country (foreign flagged) but on demise charter to NZ-based operator
  3. A ‘Foreign’ vessel is not a New Zealand vessel
  4. New Zealand vessels pay annually
  5. Foreign vessels pay per port visit

The three factors used to calculate the levy payment for a vessel category are:

  • deadweight tonnage (DWT) – if the vessel is New Zealand SOLAS or a Foreign vessel
  • passenger capacity (Pax Cap) - Pax Cap is the maximum passengers a vessel can carry and does not include crew or staff on board. If a vessel has more than one Pax Cap the highest one must be used. A vessel operating part-time/seasonally and not being full has already been assumed in the Pax Cap rate
  • gross tonnage (GT) for all other vessel categories of 24 metres and above OR overall length in metres (Length) for New Zealand non-SOLAS under 24 metres.

Each of these factors has a different rate for each vessel category.

Why is the figure on my invoice this year different to that on last year’s invoice?

The allocation methodology behind the Maritime Levy has been devised by Castalia, independent strategic economic advisors. Castalia was commissioned to review the previous methodology and recommend a new methodology which would meet the cost of activities required to be funded by the Levy, be efficient, effective, low cost to administer, transparent, and based on a fair and consistent logic.

The various calculation factors are deadweight tonnage (DWT), passenger capacity (pax cap), vessel length and gross tonnage (GT) for all other vessel categories of 24 metres and above OR overall length in metres (Length) for New Zealand non-SOLAS under 24 metres.

Each vessel was levied on one factor (GT, DWT or Pax Cap). No recognition was given to vessels that were charged on an annual basis not being used 365 days per year, and passenger vessels not always being full.

The methodology proposed by Castalia (effective 1 July 2019) applies all three factors (GT, DWT and Pax Cap) to all vessels. Foreign vessels are levied per port visit and domestic vessels on an annual basis.

When will I receive my invoice?

You should have received an invoice in June. If you have not received an invoice please email or call one of the numbers listed at the bottom of this page.

But I only work seasonally. Why am I being levied for a year?

The Maritime Levy liability applies to all commercial vessels operating in New Zealand whether they operate on a permanent, temporary, or occasional basis. The purpose of the levy is to recover the costs of Maritime NZ providing the functions provided for under section 191 of the Maritime Transport Act. These functions are required to be provided for all year irrespective of the commercial choices made by some operators. In addition, seasonal or part time operations have already been accounted for in the levy methodology.

What does the Maritime Levy fund?

The Maritime Levy funds key elements of the maritime safety regulatory and response system and fees are charged for specific activities provided to individual operators and seafarers. The changes ensure that appropriate funding is in place for the next six years.


Related information

Funding review consultation

Maritime NZ consulted on proposed changes to Maritime Levies and Oil Pollution Levies over July - August 2023.

Funding review 2023

Previous funding review 2018


Contact us for more help

For more information:


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 540

Calling from outside New Zealand:
+64 4 830 5800

Someone from the Funding Review team will be in touch with you within 5-10 business days.
Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).