Vessel Registration


Shipping is perhaps the most international of the world’s industries, serving more than 90 per cent of global trade by carrying huge quantities of cargo cost effectively, cleanly and safely. The ownership and management chain surrounding any ship can embrace many countries and ships spend their economic life moving between different jurisdictions, often far from the country of registry.

When registering a vessel for international travel, one must choose a nation under the flag of which that vessel will sail. The term “flag of convenience” refers to registering a ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship’s owners.

 Ship registration is the process of documenting a ship’s given nationality. The nationality of a ship allows it to travel internationally wherever citizens of that nation are authorized to travel. The registration is almost like the passport for the ship, itself. Per international agreements, every merchant ship must be registered to a particular country. The country to which a ship is registered is called its “flag state.” A ship is bound by the laws of its flag state, and one commonly says a ship sails “under the flag” of its country of registration.

 The Registry’s personnel have strong commitment to operating a quality registry with first-class customer service. Significant investments in new computer and communication technologies have been made to meet the demands of today’s shipping industry.

Registration Requirements:-

Every vessel that wants to travel internationally and cross international borders must be registered. Registration is not generally required for vessels that only travel locally, but some nations provide registration for these vessels, as well. Every nation’s registration requirements varies. For example, most countries will have different requirements for vehicles of different sizes, uses, and passenger or cargo occupancy.

Countries that have national, or “closed,” registries typically require that a ship must be owned and constructed by national interests, and at least partially crewed by citizens of that nation. Open registries do not have such requirements. Indeed, some nations with open registries even offer online registration. Illegally operated vessels (e.g., pirate ships, drug smuggling vessels, etc.) are usually not registered. Because they lack a flag, many nations’ naval forces are authorized to fire on these vessels, board them, and seize their cargo without provocation.

Documentation Required For Vessel Registration:-


  • Application for Official Number, Call Sign and Registration of Vessel
  • Bill of Sale or Builder’s Certificate transferring title to applicant (three copies are sufficient)
  • Power of Attorney or Secretary’s Certificate of Corporate Resolution
  • Certificate of Confirmation of Class issued by Classification Society dated no earlier than 10 days prior to registration
  • Classification Society Statement or Affidavit that the vessel is “fit to proceed to sea”
  • Special Survey on vessels 15 years or older from the Classification Society
  • Application for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (This is submitted to the Seafarers’ Identification and Certification Division prior to registration)
  • ISM/ISPS Code Declaration of Company, Designated Person and Company Security Officer and Continuous Synopsis Record Amendments and Index
  • Proof of Liability Insurance, including oil pollution, bunker pollution and owner’s repatriation obligations
  • Permission to Transfer or Cancellation Certificate issued by the registry from which the vessel is being transferred
  • Proof that vessel is free of recorded liens and encumbrances

Within 90 days of registration, an Application for Ship Radio Station License must be submitted. If the name of the vessel is to be changed at the time of reflagging to the Marshall Islands, then all applications should be filed using the new name of the vessel, and should also list the vessel’s former name in the space provided. 


The following documents must be submitted with the initial registration documents:

1.A confirmation of Classification Certificate together with a copy of the Current Interim Classification Certificate(s) or Classification Certificate(s)

2.A Statement from the Class Society (which can be included in the Confirmation of Classification Certificate), affirming that:

·All conditions of classification have been met, and that all recommendations and/or deficiencies, if any, have been dealt with;

 · If there are any outstanding recommendations and/or deficiencies that have not been dealt with, a list of same;

 · A list of the relevant statutory certificates (which means only those that are relevant to the particular vessel type), which each Class Society is prepared to issue on behalf of the Republic of the Marshall Islands upon completion of all relevant statutory surveys (these will of course most likely have been completed by the time the vessel is delivered);

 · The current status of (1) all classification and (2) all relevant statutory surveys setting forth the dates of completion of each; and

 · If the vessel is not fit to proceed to sea prior to the completion of any outstanding recommendations or deficiencies, as noted (1) above, the reasons why.

 3.Additionally, in the case of an existing vessel which will be 15 years of age or older from the date of original construction at the date of registration, copies of the reports of the most recent:

· Classification Special Survey, Hull;

·Classification Special Survey, Machinery and Electrical Equipment;

· Classification Drydocking Survey or Underwater Examination in lieu of Drydocking;

·Load Line Survey;

· Safety Construction Survey;

· Safety Radio Survey; and

· Safety Equipment Survey

· International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Survey