Do I need a permit?
Heritage Victoria issues permits for all historic shipwrecks in Victoria and waters around the Victorian coast.
Diving or snorkelling
You need a permit from Heritage Victoria to enter or dive on a shipwreck in a protected zone. You don’t need a permit to dive on other wrecks in Victoria. We encourage suitably qualified and experienced divers to enjoy Victoria’s historic shipwrecks, it’s a marvelous way to explore and interact with our significant underwater heritage places.
When diving near an historic shipwreck it’s important to be careful with your equipment and avoid disturbing the fragile protective layers that have built up on the wreck after years underwater. It’s also important to have good buoyancy and careful finning technique to avoid accidental damage to the fragile structures.
You need a permit from Heritage Victoria to enter or fish in a protected zone. While you are allowed to fish other wrecks, we encourage you to be a good custodian. Please be careful about the placement of your anchors (and weighted shot lines) because it is illegal to interfere with, damage or destroy historic shipwrecks and severe penalties apply.
Recovering artefacts or disturbing a wreck
You need a permit from Heritage Victoria to recover artefacts or disturb any wreck in Victoria. Heavy penalties apply for interfering with a shipwreck without a permit.
What sort of permit do I need?
You’ll first need to identify whether the wreck is protected under the Heritage Act, or the Commonwealth legislation. Contact our maritime heritage team to determine how the wreck is protected and which approval you need.
Heritage Act permit
Heritage Act permits are for wrecks in enclosed waters in Victoria. This includes Port Phillip, Western Port, Corner Inlet, the Gippsland lakes and other Victorian lakes and rivers.
If you’d like to access a protected zone, or disturb a wreck, contact our maritime heritage team for a discussion about your intended activities. Following that, you may need to complete an application form, pay the relevant fee, and email your completed form and proof of payment to Heritage Victoria.
Permit for use of shipwreck artefacts
Heritage Victoria is the custodian of a number of shipwreck artefacts and elements of registered wrecks. These maritime artefacts, recovered from Victorian waters, and the wrecks they are associated with, form part of our State’s rich maritime heritage. The collection is available for research, and is viewable online.
Artefacts are available for loan to organisations for exhibitions, research or educational purposes. If you would like to use a shipwreck artefact for conservation, an exhibition, or study, please contact our maritime heritage team to discuss your proposal, then complete an application form, pay the relevant fee, and email your completed form and proof of payment to Heritage Victoria.
To apply for a Commonwealth permit, lodge an application via the online portal.
Page last updated: 12/01/23