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Marshall Islands: Offshore Business Sectors

Maritime Registry

Following the fourth quarter of 2005, the Marshall Islands Registry had reached its year-end goal of more than 31 million gross tons and over 1,100 registered vessels. In less than five years, the Marshall Islands Registry had more than doubled its fleet size from 18.5 million gross tons and 626 vessels at the end of 2003. By November 2012, the Registry had a fleet size of 2,780 vessels with 122.86 million gross tons.

The Marshall Islands is ranked third on the list of the world’s top ten open registries in terms of quality and tonnage. While the largest share of the Registry’s tonnage is from the United States, Greece, Germany and Norway, markets in Italy, Turkey, Japan and other areas in Asia have been opening up.

The Registry has more than 20 offices including Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Germany, Turkey and the UK.

A total of 21 Marshall Islands shipping corporations are now publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), with more to follow.

The Registry has an excellent Port State Control record with all the major MOUs. Recently the Registry was recognized by P.D. Thorne, Commander, US Coast Guard, who indicated that the Marshall Islands had a superior 2004 Port State Control record including over 270 distinct arrivals without a single safety or environmental IMO detention.”

IRI's Maritime Operations Department in Reston, New York and London is certified as a quality management system under ISO 9001:2000 by BSI Quality Registrar, under the American National Standards Institute - American Society for Quality, and the Dutch Council for Accreditation. This quality certification encompasses the management of the operational and administrative functions of the ship registry program.

IRI's Maritime Operations Department has the following sections:

Vessel Registration and Mortgage Recordation

This section provides vessel owners, operators, charterers, lending institutions and their representatives with information needed to register vessels in the Marshall Islands and to record ship mortgages and related instruments under Marshall Islands laws. Services include the issuance of provisional certificates of registry; renewals to bareboat charter certificates of registry; and non-navigation provisional certificates of registry for vessels in long-term, laid-up status.

Vessel Documentation

Responsible for the issuance of certificates of permission for sale and transfer of vessels and cancellation of registry; Certificates of Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage; and Certificates of Ownership and Encumbrance. Receives records, files, and processes tonnage tax receipts, invoices, mortgage paperwork, etc.

Marine Safety

Coordinates the vessel safety inspection program, reviews and verifies that shipowners have submitted applicable national and international maritime documents and vets vessels and ship managers entering the registry. Promulgates Marine Safety Advisories to supplement the Marine Notices.

Seafarers' Documentation

Responsible for maintaining seafarer training, certification and documentation standards in compliance with applicable IMO, ILO and National Flag State examination requirements for sea service; reviewing and issuing officer certificates to qualified deck, engineer and radio officers; issuing seafarers' identification and record books and special qualification certificates; administration and monitoring of the examination system for officers and unlicensed ratings; and issuing Minimum Safe Manning Certificates.

Officer and Seafarer License Verification System

As a service to the international maritime industry in verifying the validity of licenses, certificates and record books issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, IRI offers the following searchable databases:

  • Officer Certificate (License) Verification
  • Seafarers Identification and Record Book Verification
  • Special Qualification Certificate Verification 

In addition, a listing of Marshall Islands Seafarers' Documents known to be Fraudulent may also be searched.

Technical Support

Monitors and ensures the implementation of the applicable national maritime laws and that the IMO codes and conventions are carried out to the fullest extent practicable on Marshall Islands vessels. Issuance of technical dispensation, exemption, equivalency and survey certificates; multiple load line assignment books; technical interpretation of regulations and support on vessel detentions; liaison with classification societies, promulgation of marine notices and technical circulars, and other technical matters.

Vessel Radio Station Licensing

All vessel radio transmitting stations are required to have a license. When a vessel is initially registered it is issued a Temporary Authority for a Ship Radio Station, valid for 90 days. During this period, the vessel’s representative must submit an Application for Ship Radio Station License (MI-104) listing information necessary for a full-term license.


Initiates, completes and documents investigations, distributes major casualty and pollution incidents investigation reports to the International Maritime Organization, Port States and other interested parties; distributes determinations after investigating contraventions of SOLAS, MARPOL, and COLREGS, and monitors developments in national and international maritime law or conventions that could impact maritime investigatory functions.



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