Ferry companies interested in operating Irish Sea routes to and from the Isle of Man are being invited to come forward.
The government's inviting expressions of interest from operators of passenger and roll-on, roll-off freight ferry services.
Infrastructure chiefs say the move is part of a strategic review of the Isle of Man's sea services - five years before its agreement with the Steam Packet Company expires.
Applicants are being told they must be able to operate reliable services to Liverpool and Heysham year round.
The Infrastructure department says it's looking beyond the current user agreement with the Steam Packet - which runs out in 2020 but can be extended by another six years - to ensure the Island's future ferry needs are met.
Operators are invited to register their interest by 7 January, ahead of more detailed discussions.
Infrastructure minister Phil Gawne says the Steam Packet has provided an excellent service over many years, and there is no commitment to enter into another agreement with any operators at this stage.
A list of requirements highlights local employment, the need to operate through an Isle of Man company for the payment of tax, have an established record in the business and provide vessels with a daily capacity of 6000 passengers.