Yacht and Ship Registration

Any ship, be it a yacht, commercial vessel, military ship or a fishing boat has to be registered. As a ship will spend most of its life in the international waters, sailing between a large selection of countries, it cannot be said to automatically ‘belong’ to a particular country in the same way, as for example, a factory or other similar static plant. But a ship can not be stateless. It has to ‘belong’ to one particular country to be subject to that country’s laws which should incorporate various international conventions for ships, and in time of difficulty, to be able to claim the protection of that country. Within that country the vessel will be registered at a particular port; the port of registry being an important item of information in a ship’s details.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), which were ratified by 154 countries, requires every ship to sail under one flag (Article 92 of UNCLOS) and also confers a right to every State, whether littoral or land-locked, to have ships flying its flag (Article 91 of UNCLOS).
If a State exercises this right, it must also assume the obligation to ensure that the ships are subject to its effective jurisdiction and control. It is therefore in pursuance of this obligation that a flag State has laws and regulations covering:

  • Standards of construction, equipment and survey of its ships.
  • The manning of ships, labour conditions and the training of crews.
  • Safe navigation of ships.
  • Reduction and control of marine pollution.
  • Investigation of casualties involving its ships.

Types of ship registries

There are, broadly speaking, four types of registries:

  • The territorial or ‘closed’ registries – these generally have more stringent criteria for ownership, i.e. only citizens and companies incorporated in the country can qualify. Degree of ‘closedness’ varies because foreigners can still get in by way of companies unless there are stringent criteria also for company ownership. Examples of such registries are most of the European countries, except the ‘international’ registries. The original registries still belong to the traditional category.
  • The ‘open’ registries – established as a service to the international shipping community.
    The most notable examples are Liberia and Panama.
  • The ’offshore’ or ‘international’ registries – these registries are set up by the traditional registries to stem the exodus of ships from their original registries. These are designed to lower the operating costs of owners and some are also designed to attract foreigners. Examples are the Norwegian, Danish and German international registries.
  • The ‘dual’ or ‘bareboat’ registries – these registries allow bareboat chartered ships to be registered. Examples of countries which allow dual registration are Germany, Australia, Liberia and Philippines.

The selection of the country of your yacht registration is very important, and is not an easy task. It is advisable to contact an experienced registration agent or law office, who can provide information and assistance needed to take right decision and to accomplish the process. If you need to register your yacht or a ship, or you are a ship owner looking for convenient ship flag jurisdiction, you just need to Contact Us and we will perform all necessary formalities. Delta Quest Group consultants will respond to all your inquiries in efficient and timely manner.

Yacht Registration Package

Advantages and Procedures for the registration of a yacht in Gibraltar


  • Gibraltar’s situation at the gateway to the Mediterranean, its British Flag Registry and the facilities provided by all three of its marinas means that it is ideally placed to service all registration, mooring, repair and maintenance needs associated with the yachting world.
  • All vessels registered in Gibraltar are registered as British flag vessels with documentation being identical to the UK requirements and are required to fly the Red Ensign.
  • Gibraltar’s status within the EU is that it is a full EU member except that it is exempted from levying VAT as it does not form part of the EU’s Common Customs Tariff area. For this reason, it is important to differentiate between countries falling within the EU’s CCT area and other EU territories such as Gibraltar. For the reasons described above, if you register your yacht in Gibraltar you pay:
    • No VAT in Gibraltar
    • No Import Duty (if your vessel is not based in Gibraltar)
    • No tax on the sale of your vessel
  • Under the laws applicable to yachts registered in Gibraltar in the name of limited companies it is:
    • Not necessary for shareholders or company directors to be nationals or residents of Gibraltar
    • Not necessary for the vessel to be surveyed annually
    • Not necessary for the skipper to hold any form of mariner’s certificate in the case of pleasure yachts under 80 GRT.


  • The persons entitled to be owners of British Flag vessels are:
    • British nationals
    • Citizens of the European Union
    • Companies incorporated in jurisdictions which are subject to UK laws, and have principal places of business in these locations.
  • Non-British nationals can make use of Gibraltar companies to own their vessels. The vessels can then be registered in the names of their Gibraltar companies, with the owners or their nominees holding all the shares in the Company.
  • All vessels registered in Gibraltar be they in the name of Gibraltar companies or EU citizens, are required to appoint Registered Agents in Gibraltar who are entrusted with the annual renewal of the registration of the vessels for and on behalf of the Beneficial Owners of the vessels.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

  • VAT is normally charged on yachts which are used within Common Customs Tariff waters, regardless of whether the yacht is owned by a Gibraltar company. For this reason it is important to note that whether a yacht is registered in Gibraltar or any other British Flag port, it is also subject to the conditions imposed by other countries as to the length of time that it may remain in any port without becoming subject to Import Duty as a foreign registered vessel.
  • Although VAT-free temporary importation status is still available to yachts which do not spend more that six months in any year in CCT waters, this is conditional upon the yacht not being used by any EU residents during its time in CCT waters.
  • If a vessel which is seeking a transfer of its Port of Registry from a country within the Common Customs Tariff area to Gibraltar, has already paid VAT on its purchase value, it would be important to show that the “resale” of the vessel to the name of a Gibraltar company is effected within the CCT area in order to preserve its VAT-paid status.
  • EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar in the name of Gibraltar companies should note that any VAT levied by CCT member countries on their vessels would be conditional upon their status as EU citizens and not on their vessel’s Port of Registry. For this reason it would certainly be a bonus if those EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar and continue to use their vessels within CCT waters, have already paid VAT on their vessels.


  • If the vessel to be registered in new, and has never been registered elsewhere previously, then we would need to be furnished with a Builder’s Certificate which should carry the seal or rubber stamp of the Builder(s) and should indicate for whom the vessel was built.
  • If the vessel is not a new vessel and is currently registered in a Non-British Flag port, then we need to be furnished with a Bill of Sale which indicates the sale of the vessel to the Gibraltar company, and which needs to be authenticated by a Consul or Notary Public who can bear witness to the nationality of the Vendor.
  • If the vessel is currently sailing under the British Flag, then an ordinary Bill of Sale without any form of certification will suffice.
  • If the vessel has been purchased from a British subject (or corporation), and it has not be registered previously, then we would require the applicant to provide us with a sequence of Bills of Sales from the initial owner to date.
  • Every vessel seeking registration in Gibraltar (except for those meeting the criteria described in point f below) is required to produce a Measurement and Tonnage Survey Certificate which should be carried out by representatives of any of the following recognised syndicates:
    • Bureau Veritas
    • Lloyds of London
    • Germanischer Lloyd
    • American Bureau of Shipping
    • Norske Veritas
    • RINA
    • The Royal Yachting Association
    • Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyors Association.
  • If a vessel seeking re-registration in Gibraltar can produce certified documentation pertaining to any EU port authority confirming that the vessel is up-to-date in its compliance with their registration requirements, and assuming that this documentation meets with the approval of the Gibraltar Yacht Registry, then the requirements to have a Measurement & Tonnage Survey carried out on the vessel can be simplified via the homologation of the information appearing on these documents to meet British standards.

Cost Of Registering A Yacht In Gibraltar

FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED’s costs for the services of registering a vessel in Gibraltar (inclusive of all Registry fees, but exclusive of the provision of a Gibraltar company) are as follows:

GBP £ 850 – exclusive of a Measurement and Tonnage Survey

The costs listed above refer exclusively to FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED’s “YACHT REGISTRATION PACKAGE” and assume that no additional services such as the provision of Nominee facilities etc., would be required of us. Should it be anticipated that such services may be necessary, please refer to our Introductory Fees List appearing on this Website in order to determine the relevant costs.

Yacht Insurance

FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED will be pleased to assist with placing insurance for yachts at competitive rates through major insurance companies.
• All costs appearing in this package are subject to review on a periodic basis and FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED reserves the right to amend fees
for this service without prior notice.