Our firm specializes in British Virgin Island Yacht Registration, Merchant Vessel Registration, and offshore corporation formation.


Introduction (Why Register?)

The main reason for registering a ship has always been to prove its nationality. Identification is essential for overseas voyages. Another reason for registration is to use the ship as security to obtain a marine mortgage which in turn is registered. Ownership details are fully investigated. Purchasers of British registered ships can obtain a Transcript of Registry which shows the registered owners of a ship and whether there are any outstanding Mortgages or liens lodged against the vessel. Finally, always apply for registration well before the date you want to sail.

Q. What is the benefit of BVI Registration?

A. There are several advantages, 10 of them are:

  • Registry is a member of the Red Ensign Group. Ships flying the Flag are entitled to British Diplomatic / Consular support and Royal Navy Protection. In addition to its own full survey and certification resources in-house, BVI has access to the range of technical expertise of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
  • Registered ownership is permitted to citizens of and, companies registered in BVI, UK and all British Territories. Likewise, those of the EU, CARICOM & OECS are eligible for registration as Owners of Virgin Islands Ships. Other nationals (individuals and/or company) permitted to own minority interest in Virgin Islands ship.
  • Low Initial Registration & Annual Maintenance fees.
  • Registry is specialized in Yacht registration and Certificates are recognized worldwide.
  • Facilitates simple yet secure registration of ship, mortgages, discharge of mortgages, change/transfer of ownership and other proprietary interests and services.
  • Full corporate, legal, telecommunications and courier services readily available in BVI.
  • Political and social stability in BVI and British Judicial System.
  • BVI is the Yachting Mecca of the Caribbean, equipped with modern state-of-the -art facilities, berths, accommodation, supplies and services.
  • Prompt, courteous and efficient service. Fully computerized Fleet Management System and Database.
  • BVI is recognized worldwide as a reputable offshore financial centre, leading the world in company formation and related corporate services.

Q. What is needed to Register a Vessel?


  • Application to register
  • Declaration of Eligibility / Ownership
  • Original Documents of Title/Ownership - Builder's Certificate/ Bills of Sale.
  • Certificate of Survey and Tonnage Measurement issued by one of our Classification Societies. If the vessel is 24 metres or over in Load Line Length and International Tonnage Certifice (ITC69) is required.
  • Certificate of Incorporation (if a company is applying)
  • Initial Registration fee: (Available on request, from Registry)
  • If the ship is coming off a foreign register the deletion certificate which must also indicate the last owner of record.
  • If ship coming off a Red Ensign Register the Closed Transcript and copy of original Certificate of Survey/Tonnage Certificate
  • Any documents that are used to support an application and are in a foreign Language must be accompanied by a notarized translation into English language and it must be certified as correct by a notary public
  • All applications must be accompanied with the appropriate fee. We can supply all the necessary forms at the Registry. When you apply to register your vessel, please provide a list of proposed names in order of preference. A list of fees and charges for registration are also available at the Registry.
  • In the case of vessels whose beneficial owners do not reside in the BVI, a local Representative Person (RP) must be appointed. This appointee may be either a Body Corporate or an individual.
  • Pursuant to our "Know Your Customer" principles, a form entitled "Undertaking to Act as Representative Person" (RP), to be completed by RP and submitted with every application.

Q. How long does it take?

A. After all the required documents, including the certified Carving and Marking Note are returned and the fee paid, the Certificate of Registry is electronically generated and immediately issued.

Commercial vessels are required to provide proof that they comply with the rules and regulations relating to safety, pollution prevention and maritime security, as applicable to the type of commercial vessel and operation involved, before registration can be completed.

The use of courier companies with operations to and from the BVI has been known to facilitate expeditious dispatch and return of documents and certificates. Owners/Agents are advised accordingly.

Q. What Persons are eligible to be owners of a Virgin Islands Ship?

A. Citizens and/or Bodies corporate registered in the British Virgin Islands and any of the following: United Kingdom and it's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories; Nationals of and bodies corporate incorporated in; Member State of the European Community (EC) or European Economic Area (EEA); Overseas Territories of Member of EC or EEA; (Bodies corporate must have a place of business in such Member State or Overseas Territory) ; Bodies corporate incorporated in a Member State of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) or the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (and registered in the BVI.)

Q. What vessels are entitled to be registered?

A. According to tradition, interest/ownership in a British Ship is divided into 64 Shares. A vessel is entitled to be registered, if a majority of the interest (at least 33 of the 64 shares) is owned by qualified persons (individuals or Bodies Corporate). Foreign persons may own a minority interest (up to 31 of the 64 shares) in the ship; or register ship under a qualified company owned by them.

Q. What flag is to be flown on a ship registered in BVI?

A. The Red Ensign bearing the Virgin Islands coat of arms or, un-defaced (without the coat of arms).

Q. What about changes in ship"s registered details etc.,?

A. After a vessel is registered, any changes that would affect the "Certificate of British Registry" must be notified to the VISR. If registered owners have changed address, they must notify the Registry of the change by written correspondence. As the production of the Certificates is fully computerized any change in the primary details includes the issue of a new certificate. That way no manual alteration appear on the face of the certificate. Therefore in such cases, the current certificate of registry must be returned for cancellation.

Q. What is required to change the ownership of a registered ship?


  • Appointment of Authorized Officer
  • Appointment of Representative Person
  • Declaration of Eligibility
  • Original Bill(s) of Sale
  • Certificate of Incorporation (if company)
  • Certificate of Good Standing (if the company more than one year old
  • Statutory fee (see list obtainable from Registry)

Q. What is needed to change the name of a registered ship?


  • Application to change the name, giving 3 names in order of priority
  • Letter from the Mortgagee confirming "no objection" to change of name
  • Fee to change the name and issue new Certificate of Registry

Q. What is needed to change the engine details of a registered ship?


  • Certificate of Survey confirming the changes
  • Fee for new Certificate of Registry

Q. What is needed to change the Tonnage, Dimensions a vessel?


  • Original Certificate of Survey issued by one of the approved Classification Societies or organizations
  • Fee for new Certificate of Registry

Q: What is needed to change the operation (use) of a vessel?

A. If the owner intends to change the operation (use) of vessel, e.g. from private to commercial, a "Certificate of Compliance" issued under the appropriate MCA Code of Practice, fee for issuing the new Certificate of Registry.

Q. What is the cost of initial registration?

A. The current schedule of all the fees and charges connected with registration in BVI as well as other administrative services are obtainable from the Registry.

Q. Are there any recurrent Annual Charges?

A. Yes - The annual tonnage fee and maintenance fee charged as per Fees Schedule.

Q. What about Mortgages?

A. The recording of mortgages is an important feature of ship registration.

The Registry facilitates the Entry, Transfer and Discharge of marine Mortgages on registered vessels.

Lenders (Mortgagees) may also submit a Notice of Mortgage Intent Form and documents, to preserve their priority whilst registration is proceeding. This form may also be used in respect of vessels under construction.

Q. What are the Safety, Pollution Prevention and Security Requirements?

A. As a branch of the Registry of British Ships and a member of the Red Ensign Group, Virgin Islands registered vessels are subject to the same safety, environmental protection and security standards, and regulations as U.K. vessels. Commercial vessels are to comply with MCA Codes of Practice for Commercial vessels of their type, class and size. Vessels operating in the Caribbean are to comply with respective Caribbean Codes or Regulations. Safety certificates issued by the UK MCA will continue to be valid on BVI ships.

Q. How are Statutory Surveys carried out?

A. Ships registered in the BVI, or those wishing to be registered to which the statutory certification applies, may be surveyed by the VISR surveyors or surveyors appointed by any of the seven authorised Classification Societies. Additionally, VISR may use surveyors from the MCA or other Red Ensign Group Registries, if deemed necessary.

Q. What are the requirements relating seafarers qualifications ?

A. All commercial vessels are subject to requirements of the STCW 78/95 Convention. BVI issues appropriate STCW 95 endorsements recognizing certificates issued by other administrations which are listed in the IMO Whitelist, Vessels certified under the Caribbean Small Commercial Vessels Code (SCV Code) must carry a master holding a "Boatmaster" licence issued under the SCV Code. Examinations for Boatmaster Licence and Boat Engineer Licence are conducted by the VISR.

Q. What are the requirements relating seafarers qualifications on pleasure yachts (non commercial) ?

A. For pleasure vessels of over 24 metres in load line length please refer to UK MGN 195 (M) (Deck Officers) and MGN 156 (M) (Engineer Officers)

Q. What is your advice to customers for "no hassle" registration?

A. Register in good time. Always apply for registration well before you intend to sail. If a commercial vessel is involved ensure appropriate safety certificates are available and vessel surveyed by or on behalf of VISR before registration. Ensure that you have completed the necessary documentation properly and paid the correct fee.

For more information, please email our specialists.

1110 Brickell Avenue
Suite 310
Miami, Florida 33131

Tel: 305-374-0030
Fax: 305-374-2855


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