Developing an operator plan

Information, help and resources on how to develop a Maritime Transport Operator Plan (operator plan).

Before you start developing your plan...

1. Talk to a maritime officer

Our maritime officers can give you free advice about how to develop the safety system for the vessels in your operation (your operator plan). Contact your local maritime officer now to find out how they can help you with your operator plan and save you time and money when you apply to enter MOSS.

Contact a Maritime Officer

2. Read our guidance material

Here is a document to assist you when developing your own operational plan.

Operator plan guidance

MTOP guidance and template[DOCX: 1Mb, 68 pages]

The Operator plan template provides the framework in which to build your plan - you can change it as required to suit your operation.

Developing your plan (step by step)

Contact a maritime officer

Getting help

Contact a Maritime Officer for help with your operational and health and safety requirements.

Contact now

Top tips for preparing your operator plan

Your operator plan is a resource that you should refer to and use, not just something you produce to meet MOSS application requirements. It is a safety management system and you should use it to manage safety.

Anyone should be able to look at your operator plan and get a clear idea about how your operation runs. Follow these tips to make sure your plan is as good as it can be:


Your operator plan should make sense when read from beginning to end as a single document

  • Structure the plan to suit your operation. It doesn’t matter if your operation is large or small, the plan needs to provide all of the information needed to run the operation safely and cleanly.
  • Your plan is likely to be made up of existing and new documents tailored for your operation. If you use sections of your existing SSM manual, these must be up to date and relevant. Make sure you can update the documents easily (if you simply copy and paste sections into the template, you may need to spend more time updating them in the future).
  • You may include separate documents for areas like administration or vessel and maintenance manuals, so long as they cover all of the MOSS requirements. Provide copies of any other documents you refer to, such as drug and alcohol or fatigue policies.


Use Word or PDF files for the documents in your operator plan so that they can be searched.

  • Scanned documents sent as image files can’t be searched electronically, and will take more time to review. This could increase the cost of assessing your application.
  • If your plan has lots of scanned image files, it will be more difficult for you to make any changes that are required.


Provide an introduction or covering letter to explain how the elements of your operator plan fit together to meet MOSS requirements.

  • Your plan should be more than a collection of separate documents. Anyone looking at it should be able to understand how the different sections fit together.


Consider using photographs to identify and explain, rather than having a lot of words.

  • Photographs must be clear and sharp.


Include all relevant certificates with your operator plan, in addition to those covering priority areas like fit and proper person and survey requirements.

  • You need to provide certificates for elements of your plan such as radio and compass surveys or inspections of safety equipment (fire extinguishers, life jackets, EPIRBs and so on).
  • If you haven’t provided relevant certificates, you may be asked to send them. This could slow down the processing of your application and add to the overall cost.
  • If certificates have been issued by MNZ, you need only list the name of the certificate and the issue date.