National Search and Rescue Manual

National Search and Rescue Manual

Edition 1, February 2017

The National Search and Rescue Manual is the standard reference document for use by all search and rescue authorities and other organisations that provide search and rescue services in Australia. It outlines the agreed methods of coordination through which search and rescue operations are conducted within Australia. The manual is consistent with the relevant International Conventions to which Australia is party. Available online only, this is the latest edition.

Available by section

For ease of reference, follow the quick links. The date of the most recent amendment is shown.

Section Last updated
Foreword (PDF, 178 KB) February 2017
Introduction (PDF, 184 KB) February 2017
Defence Letter of Promulgation (PDF, 347 KB) February 2017
Table of Contents (PDF, 358 MB) February 2017
Abbreviations and Acronyms (PDF, 242 KB) February 2017
Glossary (PDF, 297 KB) February 2017
Chapter 1, part A: Organisation and Coordination - The National SAR Plan (PDF, 268 KB) February 2017
Chapter 1, part B: Management and Support (PDF, 358 KB) February 2017
Chapter 2: Communications (PDF, 333 KB) February 2017
Chapter 3: Awareness and Initial Action (PDF, 570 KB) February 2017
Chapter 4: Search Planning and Evaluation (PDF, 894 KB) February 2017
Chapter 5: Search Techniques and Operations (PDF, 849 KB) February 2017
Chapter 6: Rescue Planning Operations (PDF, 345 KB) February 2017
Chapter 7: Conclusion of SAR Operations (PDF, 214 KB) February 2017
Chapter 8: Training and Exercises (PDF, 207 KB) February 2017
Chapter 9: Other Emergency Assistance and Services (PDF, 197 KB) February 2017


Section Last updated
Appendix A: Australian Search and Rescue Region (PDF, 381 KB) February 2017
Appendix B: National Search and Rescue (SAR) Responsibilities and Functions (PDF, 202 KB) February 2017
Appendix C: Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on National Search and Rescue Response Arrangements (PDF, 3.67 MB) February 2017
Appendix D: Information exchange requirements – Transfer of Coordination (PDF, 239 KB) February 2017
Appendix E: Distress and Emergency Signals (PDF, 222 KB) February 2017
Appendix F: Maritime SAR Recognition Code (MAREC) (PDF, 860 KB) February 2017
Appendix G: Plotting Symbols (PDF, 198 KB) February 2017
Appendix H: Sighting & Hearing (SHR) Techniques (PDF, 278 KB) February 2017
Appendix I: Tables and Graphs (PDF, 1.4 MB) February 2017
Appendix J: Probable Errors of Position (PDF, 210 KB) February 2017
Appendix K: Worksheets (PDF, 463 KB) February 2017
Appendix L: Aircraft Accident Site Precautions (PDF, 190 KB) February 2017
Appendix M: Civil Aircraft Search and Rescue Units (SRUs) (PDF, 268 KB) February 2017
Appendix N: RAAF SAR Equipment and Aircraft Capabilities (PDF, 198 KB) February 2017
Appendix O: Royal Australian Navy Response (PDF, 286 KB) February 2017
Appendix P: National operational procedure for transfer of coordination for land SAR incidents (PDF, 261 KB) February 2017


The NATSAR Manual is reviewed and updated through an annual amendments program. Amendments can be proposed throughout the year, which are then reviewed and approved by the NATSAR Council at the annual meeting. All approved amendments can be viewed in the amendment history below.

To propose an amendment please email the Secretariat.