Ship Registration

Ship Registration

Why Undertake Ship Registration in the British Virgin Islands?

There are many advantages of registering a vessel in the British Virgin Islands. Some of them include:

  • Access to technical expertise
  • No corporate taxes
  • No sales tax in the BVI when you purchase anything
  • BVI tax exemption
  • Your boat/ship will sail as a member of the Red Ensign Group
  • Low boat registration and maintenance fees
  • Your boat/ship will be entitled to Royal Navy protection along with British Diplomatic and Consular support
  • The support of a fully computerized fleet management system and database
  • British Virgin Islands is the yachting center of the Caribbean
  • British Virgin Islands is politically and socially stable
  • Stable British Judicial System
  • Registration Certificates are recognized and accepted worldwide
  • The registry encompasses three ports  Road Harbor, Gorda Sound and White Bay. This makes the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry more flexible and appealing to ship owners worldwide, as vessels with identical names can be registered by the ports of registry.

However, it must be pointed out that with the passing of the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act 2018 in the BVI, shipping is one of the relevant activities which falls within its scope.  Persons should be mindful therefore of the need to prove Economic Substance in the BVI unless one or more of the exclusions mentioned below in the definition of Shipping Business applies.

Shipping Business comprises any of the following activities involving the operation of a ship anywhere globally other than in the territorial waters of the Virgin Islands or between the islands:

  • Transportation by sea of persons, animals, goods or mail for a charge; or
  • Leasing, renting or chartering of ships for the purpose described above; or
  • The sale of travel tickets and ancillary services connected with the operation of a ship; or
  • The use, maintenance or rental of containers, including trailers and other vehicles or equipment for the transport of containers, used for the transport of anything by sea; or
  • the management of the crew of a ship.

But specifically excludes a holding business and it is further noted that a fishing vessel, a pleasure vessel or a small ship is not considered to be a ship.

 Finally, it should be noted that the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry does not register:

  • Vessels over 20 years
  • Vessels belonging to non-qualifying owners (see Who Can Register)
  • Vessels that the Registry does not consider safe or which are a risk for pollution
  • Vessels that would endanger the safety, health and welfare of officers, crew or passengers
  • Vessels that the Registry consider high risk to be used for criminal purposes
  • If Registration would be detrimental to the interests of the Virgin Islands or international shipping

Documents Required for Ship Registration in BVI:

  • Application for ship registration in BVI
  • Declaration of your eligibility
  • Original copy of the Bill of Sale
  • Survey and tonnage measurement certificate
  • Incorporation certificate (if company)
  • An extract of register and deletion certificate
  • Original copy of tonnage certificate or certificate of Survey along with a closed transcript
  • Notarized translation certified as correct by a notary public if documents are in a foreign language
  • More, depending on the country of origin

The applicable due diligence form can be found here.

Ship Registration Fees