This series of posts will now delve into some of the ship’s certification in a series of posts about the individual documents. The posts are not intended as definitive sources of information, but as handy revision guides for those studying for Master’s, Chief Mates and Officer if the watch examinations.
The Certificate of Registry-The ship’s passport
What is it?-
A certificate that proves a ship’s nationality, It is probably the most important document on a ship.
Why is it needed?
It will be required when obtaining clearance in a foreign port and when boarded by officials in a war zone or embargoed area. It also of use when selling a vessel, arranging finance, or obtaining protection from a warship.
Which ships need it?
Any ship on international voyages, apart from Government owned vessels and very small vessels.
In UK law, commercial vessels under 100 GT and pleasure vessels less than 24 metres are listed on different registers. They need to be registered if sailing on the ‘high seas’ or visiting foreign ports in order to remain under flag state law.
How long is it valid?
5 years, or on change of ownership
What information can be found on the certificate?
Name, Official number, Call sign, IMO number
Port, Type of ship, Method of propulsion, Engine make and model, Total engine power
Gross tonnage, Net tonnage, Registered tonnage
Length, Breadth, Depth
Year of build, Name of builder, Country of build
Name and address of owners
Issue and expiry dates, Signature
Some Useful information
- The certificate of registry does not prove ownership or show mortgages.
- It cannot be subject to detention and must remain on the vessel unless required to obtain custom clearance.
- Many countries require the certificate to be produced on entering or leaving a port.
Where are the references?
UNCLOS Article 91 Nationality of ships
” Every State shall fix the conditions for the grant of its nationality to ships, for the registration of ships in its territory, and for the right to fly its flag. Ships have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship.”
“Every State shall issue to ships to which it has granted the right to fly its flag documents to that effect.”
Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (Chapter 21)
1993 No. 3138 The Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Regulations 1993
“Certificate of registry” means a certificate of registration which is issued to a ship which is registered under the Act and includes a certificate of bareboat charter unless the context otherwise requires”
Other useful Links
The UK RYAs advice on registration
UK Shipping Register
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