Bermuda: Offshore Business Sectors
Ship Management and Maritime Operations
This page was last updated on 6 August 2019.
Bermuda's capital, Hamilton, is a port of British registry. A Bermudian exempt company whose principal place of business is Bermuda or another Crown territory can register wholly-owned ships or aircraft in Hamilton. At the time of writing, 161 commercial vessels and 255 yachts were registered in Bermuda, along with over 500 aircraft, two thirds of which were commercial, primarily operating under leases. Private aircraft made up the rest. More than 500 shipping companies have been formed in Bermuda, many to hold foreign-registered ships.
The laws applying to ship registration are the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 (Bermuda) Order 1991 and the Merchant Shipping (Demise Charter) Act 1994; aircraft are registered under the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 1989.
Some fairly sophisticated financing structures can be employed in Bermuda for ship and aircraft construction or purchase, including leasing. US owners of aircraft in particular used to be able to benefit from the use of Foreign Sales Corporations (now abolished) in association with purpose trusts, in order to achieve a tax-efficient lease of the aircraft to foreign operators.