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Marshall Islands: Offshore Business Sectors

Registration Process

Types of vessels that may be registered under the Marshall Islands flag include: tankers, cargo ships, containerships, passenger ships, MODUs, tugs, yachts, fishing vessels and other ocean-going vessels.

Vessels should be under 20 years of age at time of registration. A waiver of the age requirement may be granted depending upon a satisfactory evaluation of the condition, seaworthiness and usage of the vessel.

Ownership must be in the name of a Marshall Islands national, corporation, limited or general partnership, limited liability company or foreign maritime entity qualified in the Marshall Islands.

All commercial vessels are required to be classed by a Classification Society that is recognized by the Maritime Administrator (some exceptions may be made for yachts and fishing vessels; contact IRI for specifics). The following are currently recognized:

  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) 
  • Bureau Veritas (BV) 
  • China Classification Society (CCS) 
  • Det Norske Veritas (DNV) 
  • Germanischer Lloyd (GL) 
  • Korean Register of Shipping (KRS) 
  • Lloyd's Register of Shipping (LR) 
  • Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK) 
  • Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) 
  • Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS)

The following documentation is required for vessel registration:

  • Application for Official Number, Call Sign, and Registration of Vessel;
  • Bill of Sale or Builder's Certificate transferring title to applicant (3 copies are sufficient);
  • Power of Attorney or Secretary's Certificate of Corporate Resolution;
  • Certificate of Confirmation of Class issued by Classification Society dated no earlier than 10 days prior to registration;
  • Classification Society Statement or Affidavit that the vessel is "fit to proceed to sea";
  • Special Survey on vessels 15 years or older from the Classification Society;
  • Application for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (This is submitted to the Seafarers' Identification and Certification Division prior to registration.);
  • ISM Code Declaration of Company and Designated Person;
  • Proof of Liability Insurance, including owner's repatriation obligations;
  • Permission to Transfer or Cancellation Certificate issued by the registry from which the vessel is being transferred;
  • Proof that vessel is free of recorded liens and encumbrances;
  • Within 90 days of registration, an Application for Ship Radio Station License must be submitted.

If the name of the vessel is to be changed at the time of reflagging to the Marshall Islands, then all applications should be filed using the new name of the vessel, and should also list the vessel's former name in the space provided.

The Marshall Islands Maritime Act incorporates provisions for the recordation of security-related instruments and documents of title. Recordation gives notice to creditors, purchasers, suppliers and other parties with an interest in such transactions, and furnishes an internationally enforceable structure for the protection of those legal rights recorded with respect to a vessel of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Preferred status, accorded to a mortgage under the Act, gives priority to the lender's mortgage lien over those of certain other claimants.

A Marshall Islands preferred mortgage may secure sale and lease transactions, contingent and future obligations; the Japanese ne-teito type of "floating mortgage" facility; advances and repayments; guarantees; and multiple types of collateralization incidental to the diversified ownership of more than one vessel.

Due to ground-breaking amendments passed on March 10, 2000 by the Marshall Islands legislature, owners have an option to "tack on" a previously recorded mortgage. To continue the preferred status of a previously recorded foreign mortgage, owners may submit the recorded foreign mortgage and a simple (signed) mortgage instrument which will be recorded when the vessel is registered in the Marshall Islands. This mortgage instrument will change the governing law of the mortgage to reflect the Marshall Islands as the law governing the mortgage.



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