Turks and Caicos: Offshore Business Sectors
Ship Management and Maritime Operations
See Offshore Business Review – Shipping for a more general treatment of offshore shipping registries.
The Financial Services Commission is responsible for the registration of ships. The Islands have an active shipping registry in which vessels of up to 150 Gross Registered Tonnage can be registered. By way of exception, registration is allowed of vessels of more than 150 Gross Registered Tonnage where such registration is deemed to be of unusual economic benefit to the Islands.
Registration is confined to vessels owned by British subjects or entities or corporate bodies established under and subject to the laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom and other British dependent territories. A non-British subject can register his boat in the Islands by transferring ownership to a company incorporated in the Islands. Registration of ship mortgages and transfers from other shipping registries can also be carried out.
There are no requirements as to crew nationality. Registration in the Turks and Caicos Islands entitles a vessel to fly the red ensign and to any rights of passage which might accrue thereto as well as other incidental privileges arising within the British Commonwealth.
Vessel registration in the Turks and Caicos Islands is conducted in accordance with the provisions of the United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Acts of 1884-1967. The Merchant Shipping (Categorisation of Registries of Overseas Territories) Order 1992 restricted the category of ships which could be registered in the Islands to vessels of 150 Gross Registered Tonnage and expressly prohibited the registration of passenger ships and ships used on international voyages.
In most jurisdictions, and the Turks and Caicos Islands is no exception to the rule, an extended visit can be treated by Customs as a declaration of intention to permanently import the vessel. A vessel imported into the Islands attracts import duty and a surcharge representing 11% of the value of the ship. On 15th March 1996 the Islands' Director of Customs issued the Customs (Pleasure Craft) Direction 1996 with a view to removing the uncertain tax situation which arises when a vessel is on an extended visit. In order to avail oneself of the benefits of this directive the vessel's captain must fly the yellow quarantine flag from the time of entry to the time of departure, must not drop anchor, must not load or unload in the absence or authorisation of a customs officer, must file the necessary reports which Customs requires and upon departure must apply for clearance on the prescribed form obtained from the Customs officer attending the vessel at the time of its entry into the Islands.
Alternatively the captain of a vessel can apply for a Temporary Cruising Permit which allows the yacht to stay on the Islands for up to three months without being subject to duty. A vessel can only apply for 2 Temporary Cruising Permits in any one year which effectively means that if a vessel is moored for more than six months in the Turks and Caicos Islands it will be deemed to have been permanently imported and will be required to pay import duty amounting to 11% of its value.