Yacht Registration

The choice of port in which to register a yacht is not always straightforward and, indeed, the registration process itself can be daunting for those not familiar with it.  We are happy to advise on the process or we can complete the process on your behalf, even if our ongoing services are not required!

The nationality of the owner, the intended cruising area, any coding requirements and the related tax consequences all need to be taken into account when registering a yacht.  For example, if a yacht is owned by a UK resident and will operate from a British port, it is likely that registration at that port will be most appropriate.  If a yacht will spend most of it's time in the Caribbean it is normally best registered in Miami, Nassau or the British Virgin islands.  The real complications (and opportunities) arise when a yacht is to be used in European waters by a non-EU National.

Although other European states have their own registries, we generally advise on a British Registration.  This is possible even for non-EU nationals by using an appropriate ownership structure.  As well as the prestige of flying the Red Ensign, registering the vessel on the British Ship Register also has the following advantages:

  • Access to British Consular Services (see * below);
  • Protection by the British Royal Navy (see * below);
  • It provides a reliable record of the vessel's provenance;
  • It provides reliable proof of ownership to facilitate a mortgage;
  • It provide reliable proof of ownership to facilitate a sale;
  • The "UK Flag" is one of the top performing flags on the Paris MoU and Tokyo MoU "white lists";
  • The UK is included on the US Coastguards "Qualship 21" initiative;
  • UK Tonnage Tax incentive - alternative method of calculating corporation tax profits based on ship net tonnage;
  • The UK has met the Paris MoU flag criteria for low risk ships so UK ships are not targeted for Port State Control inspections;
  • ISPS plan approvals and verification audits at no cost to owners and operators;
  • An international reputation for expert advice and guidance with a proactive leading role at the IMO, EU and Quality Shipping Commitees
  • MCA Quality Assurance offers certification to ISO 9001(2008) and ISO 14001(2004) standards with audits being undertaken in harmonisation with ISM and ISPS; and
  • Alternate Compliance Scheme - for eligible vessels, statutory surveys (except ISM, ISPS and ILO) are delegated to Classification Societies without a formal appointment.

*Worldwide security threat information provided to UK registered ships with support for British Nationals on board from British Consuls and Royal Navy protection dependent on the availability of assets and the nature of the threat.

To address the many facets of registering a yacht, we have the necessary experience and expertise here in Jersey, and working with your own trusted advisers and the team of marine specialists who we are proud to work with, we can address all of your registration requirements.

Coding Requirements

Registration of a yacht brings with it a need to comply with the coding requirements of the registry.  The codes generally only apply to commercial vessels, but the adoption of the codes may be necessary if the ownership structure requires commercial registration.

There are currently five Maritime and Coastguard Agency "Codes of Practice", which can be applied to United Kingdom vessels in commercial use.

  • YELLOW the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Motor Vessels
  • BLUE the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Sailing Vessels
  • BROWN the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Workboats and Pilot Boats
  • RED the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure operating from a Nominated Departure Point (NDP)
  • LY2 the Large Commercial Yacht Code

Further details about the exact requirements for each category can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/

We provide advice and assistance in relation to the coding requirements as part of our yacht registration service.

The Red Ensign

British Registration brings with it the privilege of flying the Red Ensign.

The Red Ensign first came about in 1627 when the British Fleet was divided into three squadrons, each sailing under either a red, blue or white ensign.  HMS Victory, for example, flew the White Ensign as Nelson was the Vice Admiral to the White Squadron.  Over time it became unnecessary to maintain three separate fleets and in 1864, the ensigns were adopted for a different purpose.  The White Ensign was used by the Royal Navy, the Blue Ensign was used by other government owned vessels, and the Red Ensign was used by the merchant fleet.  The use of the Red Ensign now applies to British Registered pleasure craft and other commercial vessels.

Certain yacht clubs have been granted permission to use a defaced red ensign, and a privileged few a defaced blue ensign.  St Helier Yacht Club, our local yacht club, can fly a defaced red ensign in recognition and as a reward to the club members, who assisted in the evacuation of the British troops from St Malo in 1940.

The Red Ensign can be flown by vessels registered in any one of The Red Ensign Group.  The group comprises of British Shipping Registers, made up from the United Kingdom, its crown dependencies and overseas territories.  Any ship registered by the Red Ensign Group is a British ship and is entitled to fly the Red Ensign.  We are based in Jersey in the Channel Islands, fourteen miles from France in the bay of Mont St Michel.  Jersey is a crown dependency and part of the Red Ensign Group.

The registration process

The Red Ensign flying from the gaff of your yacht makes a statement about you and your craft.  The Red Ensign shouts "respectability".  This status is hard earned.  There is more to it than just completing a page on a web site and sending a few hundred dollars.  The Red Ensign is only awarded after completing the due diligence and meeting the strict conditions of registration.  The registration process itself requires a team of specialists to complete the necessary surveys, and meet the registration requirements.

The process itself involves:

  • completing the appropriate forms;
  • providing the necessary proof of ownerhsip;
  • completing the necessary surveys, appropriate for the coding requirements;
  • payment of the appropriate fees; and
  • manufacture and affixing a tonnage plate.

Once the registration is complete, the tax and other factors need to be considered as the first port entered by a new vessel from International waters can have a long term impact on the tax position.  Getting this wrong, or not having the appropriate documentation can have significant complications.

For over 30 years this company and its predecessors have provided advice and registration services to yacht owners from all over the world.