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Barbados: Offshore Business Sectors

Ship Management and Maritime Operations

See Offshore Business Review – Shipping for a more general treatment of offshore shipping registries.

The Shipping Act 1994 established a Barbados Ships Registry. Barbados had been a member of the International Maritime Orgaisation since 1969, and subscribes to all the main maritime safety and environmental conventions.

The Principal Registrar is based in London, with a subsidiary Registrar in Bridgetown, and there are provisional registration offices with inspectorates in a number of international maritime centres. Eleven of the major Classification Societies act on behalf of the Barbados Registry. The Registry has obtained ISO 9002 status. Applications for registration require a fairly standard package of title, survey and registration documentation.

The Shipping Act provides for registration of all types of vessel, however owned, but the new Registry is particularly aimed at 'foreign-going' vessels, meaning those which ply to and from Caricom states (but not within Caricom) or outside Caricom altogether. 'Foreign-going' vessels less than 20 years old may join the Registry if they are 'foreign-owned', which means not exclusively owned by Barbados persons; older vessels may join at the Registrar's discretion. There are tax benefits for 'foreign' vessels (see Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes).

The Shipping Corporations Act 1996, which mirrors the provisions of the Companies Act 1982, provides a stand-alone basis for incorporation of a ship ownership or management company, whether the ships concerned are registered in Barbados or elsewhere. Shipping Corporations are non-residential and are exempt from taxes.

As is the case with some other offshore sectors in Barbados, the Barbados/US Tax Convention provides particularly favourable opportunities to US shipping owners and operators, who can obtain domestic tax benefits by operating through a Barbados resident. 'Resident' is so defined that it includes an International Business Company managed and controlled from Barbados. See Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes for further details.

As of 2010, Registration fees for the Barbados Registry are:

  • For ships up to 2,000 tonnes, a flat fee of USD2,760;
  • For ships between 2,001 and 5,000 tonnes, USD1.20 per tonne + USD400;
  • For ships between 5,001 tonnes and 25,000 tonnes, USD0.5 per tonne + USD4,000
  • For ships over 25,001 tonnes, USD0.20 per tonne + USD11,500



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