Yacht & Ship Registration

Any ship, be it a yacht, commercial vessel, military ship or a fishing boat has to be registered. As a ship  will spend  most of its life in the international waters, sailing between a large selection of countries, it cannot be said to automatically ‘belong’ to a particular country in the same way, as for example, a factory or other similar static plant. But a ship  can not be stateless. It has to ‘belong’ to one particular country to be subject to that country’s laws which should incorporate various international conventions for ships, and in time of difficulty, to be able to claim the protection of that country. Within that country the vessel will be registered at a particular port; the port of registry being an important item of information in a ship’s details.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), which were ratified by 154 countries, requires every ship to sail under one flag (Article 92 of UNCLOS) and also confers a right to every State, whether littoral or land-locked, to have ships flying its flag (Article 91 of UNCLOS).

If a State exercises this right, it must also assume the obligation to ensure that the ships are subject to its effective jurisdiction and control. It is therefore in pursuance of this obligation that a flag State has laws and regulations covering:

  • Standards of construction, equipment and survey of its ships.
  • The manning of ships, labour conditions and the training of crews.
  • Safe navigation of ships.
  • Reduction and control of marine pollution.
  • Investigation of casualties involving its ships.


There are, broadly speaking, four types of registries:

  • The territorial or ‘closed’ registries – these generally have more stringent criteria for ownership, i.e. only citizens and companies incorporated in the country can qualify. Degree of ‘closedness’ varies because foreigners can still get in by way of companies unless there are stringent criteria also for company ownership. Examples of such registries are most of the European countries, except the ‘international’ registries. The original registries still belong to the traditional category.
  • The ‘open’ registries – established as a service to the international shipping community. The most notable examples are Liberia and Panama.
  • The ’offshore’ or ‘international’ registries – these registries are set up by the traditional registries to stem the exodus of ships from their original registries. These are designed to lower the operating costs of owners and some are also designed to attract foreigners. Examples are the Norwegian, Danish and German international registries.
  • The ‘dual’ or ‘bareboat’ registries – these registries allow bareboat chartered ships to be registered. Examples of countries which allow dual registration are Germany, Australia, Liberia and Philippines.

The selection of the country of your yacht registration is very important, and is not an easy task. It is advisable to contact an experienced registration agent or law office, who can provide information and assistance needed to take right decision and to accomplish the process. If you need to register your yacht or a ship, or you are a ship owner looking for convenient ship flag jurisdiction, you just need to Contact Us and we will perform all necessary formalities.  Delta Quest Group consultants will respond to all your inquiries in efficient and timely manner.