Marshall Islands: Law of Offshore
Private Yacht Registration
The Administration considers any pleasure yacht not on charter or carrying passengers for hire, not engaged in trade or commerce, and being used solely for the pleasure or recreational purposes of its owner to be a private yacht. More specifically, to be considered a private yacht, a vessel is:
- In the case of a yacht owned by a corporate entity, one on which the persons on the yacht are employees, officers or shareholders (including beneficial owners) of the corporate entity, or their immediate family or friends; or
- In the case of a trust or other ownership arrangement, one on which the persons on board the yacht are beneficiaries under the trust or beneficial owners of the ownership arrangement, or their immediate family or friends; or
- One on which persons other than those referenced in (a) or (b) above are specifically authorized by the owner to use the yacht for specified periods of time; and in private use.
The registration of private yachts is limited to those of 12 meters or more in length. The Maritime Administrator may, however, consider waiving the minimum size limitation and other requirements for private yachts less than 12 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.
To be registered as a private yacht, an owner must submit at registration a Declaration of Private Use, form MI-127, declaring that the yacht is "not" a commercial yacht or cargo vessel and will not be used for commercial purposes or gain.
The term "private use" means that the vessel is used on a private voyage or excursion, and during such use is not engaged in trade by transporting merchandise or carrying passengers for reward or remuneration (other than as a contribution to the actual cost of the vessel or its operation for the period of the voyage or excursion) or gain, and is not offered for charter or to the public for use.
Classification by an Administration recognized Classification Society is not required but is recommended, particularly for private yachts of 24 meters or more in length. For private yachts of 24 meters or more in length that are not classed, a Certificate of Survey issued by a recognized Classification Society surveyor or a surveyor authorized by the Maritime Administrator (an "Authorized Surveyor") or a Statement of Compliance or similar document from an underwriter's assessor retained by the yacht owner must be submitted.
In the case of private yachts of less than 24 meters in length, this survey may be carried out by an Authorized Surveyor, a recognized naval architect or yacht association, qualified boatyard personnel or an underwriter's assessor from whom a Statement of Compliance or similar document would be obtained.
In either case, for yachts not constructed to the standards of a recognized Classification Society, verification of reasonably sufficient compliance with the Marshall Islands Safety Code of Practice for Large and Small Yachts for its intended use and a reasonable period of satisfactory operation must be provided.
A tonnage measurement must be performed and a tonnage certificate issued and presented at registration.
For private yachts 24 meters or more in length, compliance with the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969, is required. Admeasurements and certification should be performed by a recognized Classification Society surveyor or by an Authorized Surveyor.
For private yachts less than 24 meters in length: An Authorized Surveyor, naval architect, yacht association or builder may perform the admeasurements. The issuance of a national tonnage measurement certificate is optional. A simplified method of measurement provided in the National Safety Code may be used, if necessary.
An Owner may now select either Jaluit or Bikini , Republic of the Marshall Islands , as the home port for private yachts.
Proof of hull and machinery and liability coverage from an underwriter in policy form acceptable to the Maritime Administrator is required.
The Application for Private Yacht Registration, form MI-101PY, is a single page document. The registration process begins with the submission of this application and the supporting documents outlined below:
- Power of Attorney and/or Corporate Resolutions that incorporate a Power of Attorney.
- Proof of Ownership, i.e., Bill of Sale, Builder's Certificate.
- Declaration of Private Use.
- Tonnage Measurement Certificate.
- Verification of Suitability for Intended Use: if classed, by a Certificate of Confirmation of Class issued by a Classification Society recognized by the Maritime Administrator, or if not classed, by a Certificate of Survey, Statement of Compliance or other document issued by a recognized Classification Society surveyor, an Authorized Surveyor or an underwriter's assessor for the company that will be insuring the yacht.
- Either confirmation of Hull and Machinery and P&I coverage or Cover Note on a combined policy of insurance issued by a recognized insurance company in a form acceptable to the Maritime Administrator.
- Proof that vessel is free of liens or encumbrances.
- If the yacht is not a newbuilding and is currently documented in another country, consent from that country to the vessel's transfer to the Marshall Islands.
All private yachts regardless of size must comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGS '72), as may be amended from time to time. The Maritime Administrator may, if deemed necessary, require the submission of detailed plans showing the positioning and arrangements of navigation lights for examination prior to registration.
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.
The National Safety Code for Small Yachts (MI-103B) should be used as a guideline for private yachts of less than 24 meters in length. Upon owner's request, a Marshall Islands Document of Compliance may be issued by the Maritime Administrator on the basis of a Statement of Compliance or similar document submitted by the owner indicating reasonably sufficient compliance with the National Safety Code.
The National Safety Code for Large Yachts (MI-103A) should be used as a guideline for all private yachts 24 meters and over in length. Upon an owner's request, a National Document of Compliance may be issued by a recognized Classification Society, if classed, or by the Maritime Administrator, if not classed, based on a Certificate of Survey or Statement of Compliance submitted by the owner indicating reasonably sufficient compliance with the National Safety Code.
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 should also be on board. National safety radio communications requirements apply to all private yachts regardless of size. Guidelines to meet these requirements may be found 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.
No Minimum Safe Manning Certificate is required; however, owners should follow the guidelines provided in the National Safety Code.
Qualification as Yacht Master or equivalent is recommended on private yachts of 24 meters or more in length or 80 gross tons and above, and qualification as Engineer is also recommended on private yachts of 1200 kW main engine power and/or 500 gross tons and above. Relevant qualifications should be according to size, propulsion power, and area of operation. Guidelines are provided in the National Safety Code.
Issuance of a Private Yacht Certificate of Registry is subject to the satisfaction of documentation requirements as specified above. Although issued without an expiration date, the Private Yacht Certificate of Registry is subject to annual revalidation. The continued validity of the Private Yacht Certificate of Registry is contingent upon each of the following requirements being met by the yacht owner or operator:
- Maintaining good standing of the owning entity in the Marshall Islands ; and
- Paying tonnage taxes, and all other fees or assessments when due;
Failure to pay annual tonnage tax and renewal fees for Certificate of Registry and Radio Station License when due will result in the vessel being deleted from the Marshall Islands registry and flag.
Bills of Sale, Builders Certificates, mortgages and related financial instruments may be recorded on the public record.