Top 5 Locations to Register a Private Yacht

| 7 Sep 2012 | 1 Comment

In spite of the economic slowdown, the demand for yacht registrations has been encouraging for shipping registries worldwide. Their efforts to offer individuals flexible conditions and lower registration costs have been fruitful, as yacht owners actively seek the most favorable flag states to register their vessels. The tax benefits of registering in a tax friendly location have a specific appeal to those who wish to buy and sell vessels as they can be exempt from capital gains, property and transfer tax. Furthermore, the advantage of registering a private yacht under a recognized flag state ensures that the yacht owners benefit from the highest standards and regulations in the maritime industry.

Private YachtBy registering your yacht under the most reputable flag state, yacht owners can effectively ensure that their yacht is maintained and regulated to the highest maritime industry standards. Due to the varying requirements, obligations and benefits of individual flag states, it is imperative that yacht owners research thoroughly before registering their vessel with a particular jurisdiction. Although the advantages of certain flag states may outweigh others, the most common factors that help owners determine the location of their yacht’s registration include:

  • Tax – in the event of selling a yacht, the owner is not liable to pay capital gains, property tax or transfer fees if the jurisdiction offers a tax exemption status
  • Cost – low cost and fees for registering and maintaining the yacht
  • Stability – lower risk as a result of enhanced political and financial stability
  • Privacy – heightened levels of privacy and confidentiality leading to anonymous vessel ownership

The following is a brief guide on the top locations that offer the best conditions for offshore yacht registration:

Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is the third largest open registry in the world. The primary reason behind the popularity of this jurisdiction is the efficient and quick yacht registration procedure – usually 1 working day.

The registration procedure varies depending on the type of yacht. Before beginning the registration procedure, it is highly advised to research the Maritime Administration criterion for the yacht type that applies to you – either private or commercial. The following is a brief outline of the basic requirements to register a private yacht in the Marshall Islands:

  • Complete official application for Official Number, Call Sign and Registration of Yacht
  • Provide evidence of an agent or officer who is responsible for administering and filing registration documents – such as a Power of Attorney
  • Provide proof of yacht ownership through producing the Bill of Sale or Builder’s Certificate
  • Present a Cancellation Certificate or government consent form from the jurisdiction where the vessel was previously registered
  • Provide verification that the yacht is void of any encumbrances or recorded liens
  • Provide the vessel’s gross tonnage(GRT) measurement

The owner or operator of a yacht is largely considered to be the person responsible for ensuring that the private yacht is suitably and safely manned for operation in international waters. Additional requirements for yacht owners to satisfy include; the Declaration of Private Use, evidence of Hull and Machinery insurance, Liability coverage, and the Suitability of Intended Use Certificate of Survey indicating the verification of an authorized surveyor.


The Seychelles offers yacht owners the opportunity to register their boat in a location popular for its political, financial, and legal stability as well as its membership with worldwide organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean Commission, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Seychelles’ friendly relations with renowned international organizations add to its appeal as a low risk jurisdiction for yacht registration.

There are a number of requirements to complete in order to register a yacht in the Seychelles. The following documents will be required to obtain provisional yacht registration that expires after a period of 90 days:

  • Builder’s Certificate containing the specifications of the yacht
  • Proof that the previous registration of the yacht has been deleted
  • Documentation that shows evidence of ownership
  • A minimum of three proposed names for the yacht
  • Presentation of a valid Radio License

In the completion of the provisional 90-day period, the yacht can officially gain permanent registration in the Seychelles. The presentation of the Bill of Sale, statutory certificates, official application form and the Carving and Marking Note will result in the issuance of the permanent registration of the yacht.

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is considered to be one of the most prestigious flag states in the world due to the alliance with the Red Ensign flag. The registry acts as a Category One Red Ensign (British) Registry, and registers private or commercial yachts up to 3,000 tons, and cargo ships with unrestricted tonnage. A number of yacht owners prefer to register their vessel with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry as the legal system is based on English Law and yachts enjoy protection and assistance from British embassies and consulates across the globe.

All application approvals for yacht registration are in accordance with the BVI Merchant Shipping Act. The law relates to merchant shipping, with all applications directed to the Registrar of Ships in the BVI. The first step is to obtain approval for the name of the yacht to avoid duplication and confusion in the Shipping Registry. Once the yacht name is approved, relevant surveys can be carried out to obtain the Certificate of Survey/Tonnage Certificate.

The following are a few of the general documents required to register a private yacht in the BVI:

  • Builder’s Certificate or the Bill of Sale as proof of yacht ownership
  • Evidence of the Declaration of Eligibility
  • Appointment of Authorized Officer (C193) form


shipping registryPanama’s shipping registry boasts a long standing reputation as one of the most sought after locations for yacht and ship registrations worldwide. The efficiency of the Panamanian Maritime Authority is unparalleled in locations across the globe as the authority strives to complete vessel registrations in record time. The regulations followed by the authority outline a fair registration procedure, with no discrimination against nationality, citizenship, or residence of individuals who wish to register their vessel. The high levels of privacy and confidentiality offered in this jurisdiction enable yacht owners to register their vessel while enjoying complete anonymity.

The following are the basic requirements for successfully registering a private yacht in the Republic of Panama:

  • Complete application form for registration under the Panama flag
  • Submit a valid Radio-Communications License
  • Present evidence of yacht ownership through a Power of Attorney
  • Present proof of ownership in the form of the Bill of Sale or Builder’s Certificate, and Acceptance of Sale (where applicable)
  • Present verification that the yacht registration has been deleted from its previous registry

Once these documents have been administered and filed with the Panamanian Maritime Authority, the yacht owner will be issued with a temporary 6-month Navigation License along with a 3-month Radio License.


Gibraltar is a prime location for yacht registration as it enables owners to complete the procedure under a British Flag Registry. The facilities of the three marinas on the shores of Gibraltar allow yacht owners to take advantage of a range of yacht services including repair, maintenance, and mooring.

The basic requirements for yacht registration in Gibraltar are:

  • Submit a proposed name of yacht
  • Providing a completed application form for a pleasure yacht
  • Present the Builder’s Certificate and the Bill of Sale
  • Submit a completed measurement survey document

According to laws in Gibraltar, where a yacht owner does not hold British or EU citizenship, the vessel can be registered under the name of a Gibraltar limited company. There is no requirement for shareholders or directors for this company, and the yacht will not be subject to annual surveys. In the event that the private yacht is under 80 GRT, the skipper is not obliged to provide any form of mariner’s certificate. Yacht owners, who are British or hold EU citizenship, can register their vessel using the individual yacht registration procedure.

Private yacht registration in an offshore location…

Registering your private yacht is a legal obligation therefore it is imperative that vessel owners research and find the most suitable registry for their yachting needs. The above mentioned locations are considered to be the most popular and sought after destinations due to their flexible registration procedures and high levels of privacy.

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  1. Panama Incorporation says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful information.

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