Marshall Islands: Law of Offshore
Commercial Yacht Registration
To the Maritime Administration, any pleasure yacht engaged in trade, commerce, on charter or carrying passengers for hire is a commercial yacht. The registration of commercial yachts is limited to those of 24 meters or more in length. The Maritime Administrator may, however, consider waiving the minimum size limitation and other requirements for commercial yachts less than 24 meters in length given the necessary justification.
A Marshall Islands citizen or national or a qualified foreign maritime entity must own the vessel. The term "citizen" or "national" includesMarshall Islands corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and associations of individuals.
As vessels engaged in trade, commercial yachts are subject to SOLAS, Load Line, MARPOL and STCW Convention requirements. Furthermore, under SOLAS, any vessel carrying more than 12 passengers for hire on board is considered to be a passenger vessel, subject to the passenger ship rules, regardless of tonnage and irrespective of whether or not it is being presented as a commercial or private pleasure yacht and as such would not be considered for registration as a yacht, but as a passenger ship. Since SOLAS defines a cargo ship as any ship within the Convention that is not a passenger ship, a commercial yacht of 500 or more gross tons that carries 12 passengers or less for hire must be classed and certified as a cargo ship under the Convention.
The Administration prefers that commercial yachts of 24 meters or more in length and up to 500 gross tons be classed by an organization recognized by the Maritime Administrator in order to satisfy the suitability requirements for registration. Submission of a Certificate of Confirmation of Classification will satisfy this requirement.
For those commercial yachts that are not classed, the National Safety Code provides guidelines for the establishment of suitability for intended service. In such cases, a Certificate of Survey issued by a surveyor authorized by the Maritime Administrator ("Authorized Surveyor") would be required.
Compliance with the 1969 Tonnage Convention and the issuance of a 1969 Tonnage Certificate is required for commercial yachts. A recognized Classification Society surveyor or an Authorized Surveyor may perform the admeasurements and certification.
An Owner may select either Jaluit or Bikini, Republic of the Marshall Islands, as the home port for commercial yachts.
Proof of liability coverage from a P&I club or other underwriter in policy form acceptable to the Maritime Administrator is required.
Commercial yachts are registered under the laws of the Republic in the same manner as any other vessel engaged in trade, see full details.
The Marshall Islands requires all commercial yachts regardless of size to comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGS '72), as may be amended from time to time. The commercial yacht's Classification Society or an Authorized Surveyor must verify COLREGS '72 compliance.
A Marshall Islands Safety Code of Practice for Large and Small Yachts (the "National Safety Code") has been established with the intent of providing an International Convention equivalent which addresses the special circumstances of yacht owners and operators.
Commercial yachts that are 24 meters or more in length and up to 500 gross tons are required to meet the standards of the National Safety Code for Large Yachts (MI-103A) and are issued a Marshall Islands Document of Compliance.
Commercial yachts of less than 24 meters in length, if accepted for registration, must meet the requirements of the National Safety Code for Small Yachts (MI-103B) and will also be issued a Marshall Islands Document of Compliance.
In October 2008, International Registries, Inc. (IRI), the Marshall Islands Maritime and Corporate Administrators, announced the introduction of an updated Commercial Yacht Code (CYC). The CYC was updated in response to the yachting industry’s need for easily understandable, user-friendly regulations that readily addresses current issues relevant to the yacht owner/operator. The changes also provide a practical approach to evolving safety and technical issues. The CYC replaces the Marshall Islands Safety Codes of Practice for Large Yachts MI-103A and Small Yachts MI-103B. Specific changes include:
- Revised manning requirements – Annex 4, including the introduction of a new Master of Yachts, up to 350 gross tons license;
- Acceptance of existing MCA LY2-certified yacht for transfer to the Marshall Islands flag; and
- Updated general guidance to privately registered yachts and streamlined procedures for owners wishing to utilize the Marshall Islands’ annual 84 day chartering privilege for private yachts exceeding 18 meters in length.
While the Registry overall is ranked as the fourth largest in the world, private and commercial yachts comprise 23% of the total number of vessels in the fleet. The number of yachts registered in the Marshall Islands has grown at an average rate of 90% over the past five years. Given the continual growth of the Yacht Registry, a dedicated technical group has been established which not only includes the Yacht Registry team in Fort Lauderdale but technical experts in other offices in Europe and the United States.
SOLAS '74: Compliance with the applicable provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, and its Protocol of 1978, as may be amended from time to time (SOLAS '74), is required as follows:
- Commercial yachts of 500 gross tons or more on international voyages carrying 12 passengers or less for hire must be classed and meet SOLAS cargo ship requirements.
- Commercial yachts of any gross tonnage carrying more than 12 passengers for hire on an international voyage will be considered passenger vessels that must be classed as such and must meet SOLAS passenger ship requirements.
- Appropriate SOLAS Convention certificates must be issued by an organization recognized by the Maritime Administrator.
Radio Station License: A National Radio Station License (application form MI-104) is required on all yachts with a radio station on board. An appropriately certified radio operator must also be on board. A SOLAS Ch. IV Convention Safety Radio Certificate is required for all commercial yachts of 300 gross tons or over which will entail GMDSS compliance. National requirements apply to yachts of less than 300 gross tons. Guidelines to meet these requirements are provided in the National Safety Code.
Compliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as amended by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL), is required as follows:
- Annex I is applied to all yachts regardless of size unless expressly provided otherwise. All yachts are required to maintain an oil record book.
- All yachts of 400 gross tons or more are required to be issued and carry on board an International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC) in accordance with Regulation 5 of Annex I.
- Annex IV is applied to all yachts certified to carry more than 10 persons on board and to all yachts of 200 gross tons or more regardless of the number of persons on board in accordance with Regulation 2.
- Annex V is applied to all yachts regardless of size unless expressly provided otherwise.
In addition, all yachts are required to meet local coastal state requirements for the control of pollution in their domestic waters that may exceed those of MARPOL.
Compliance with the International Load Line Convention, 1966 (ILLC '66), is mandatory for all new commercial yachts of 24 meters or more in length or existing commercial yachts of 150 gross tons or more as defined in accordance with ILLC '66. The National Safety Code provides guidelines for the establishment and application of this load line requirement.
Minimum safe manning levels are established for every commercial yacht 80 gross tons and over. Levels are determined by yacht size and propulsion power on either long or short international voyages and operating distance limitations from a port of safe haven. Minimum guidelines are provided in the National Safety Code.
Officer and crew certification shall be in accordance with Marshall Islands Maritime Regulations and STCW 95 requirements. Guidelines are provided in the National Safety Code.
Issuance of a Commercial Yacht Certificate of Registry is subject to the satisfaction of documentation requirements outlined above.
Although issued without an expiration date, the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry is subject to annual revalidation. The continued validity of the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry is contingent upon the following requirements being met by the yacht owner or operator:
- Maintaining good standing of the owning entity in the Marshall Islands ;
- Paying annual tonnage taxes and all other fees or assessments when due;
- Retaining current classification status and valid National Document of Compliance;
- Submitting to the Maritime Administrator each year a satisfactory Safety Inspection Report, Certificate of Survey or Statement of Compliance that must be received by the anniversary date of initial issue of the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry.
Yachts of 400 gross tons and above are subject to an annual safety inspection performed by the Office of the Maritime Administrator on or before the anniversary date of the issuance of the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry. A recognized Classification Society or an Authorized Surveyor must also carry out annual surveys. Completion of annual safety inspections and surveys are conditions for the continued validity of the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry.
Yachts under 400 gross tons must also carry out an annual safety inspection as a condition for the continued validity of the Commercial Yacht Permanent Certificate of Registry. The owner/operator may arrange to have the inspection performed by an Authorized Surveyor, or a self-assessment scheme approved by the Maritime Administrator. Either method must result in the submission by the owner each year of a Statement of Compliance to the Maritime Administrator.
Bills of Sale, Builder's Certificates, mortgages and related financial instruments may be recorded on the public record.