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Boat Registration in Cayman Islands

Boat Registration in Cayman Islands

Boat registration in the Cayman Islands is performed with the Shipping Registry (CISR), according to the type of vessel. The Registry is a division of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands and it offers a range of services to those who register merchant ships or yachts and other vessels. 

The Cayman Islands have a longstanding seafaring history and together with several other locations, they are part of the red Ensign Group of Category One British registries. This grants the ability to register vessels of all classes, from small ones to large ones. The only exception is for fishing vessels, a category restricted to the ones that are locally owned.  

When investors decide to open a Cayman Islands exempted company they may also be interested in registering a boat owned by the company. Our team answers some of the most common questions about this process and can provide boat owners with further assistance for George Town yacht registration, as needed.

Apart from assisting with boat and maritime law issues for those who own vessels in the Islands, our team is also highly qualified to assist investors interested in setting up a Cayman Islands company. We provide complete incorporation packages that can also include bank account opening (upon request), as well as guidance and assistance throughout the process or opening an offshore business.

What are the advantages of registering a boat in the Cayman Islands?

Registering a boat in the Cayman Islands allows the owner to benefit from sailing under a recognized flag, and operating in a favorable environment. The jurisdiction is a favorable location for setting up a Cayman Islands company and for operating commercial or passenger’s vessels. The maritime legislation safeguards the rights of the operation of passenger yachts and that of merchant’s vessels.

What is the boat registration process?

Boat owners in the Cayman Islands can start by reserving a boat name. This can be an important step for those who wish to propose a specific name and it includes submitting a special form, with the name proposal and reservation as well as paying the name reservation fee.

The name of a vessel can be registered in one of the three ports – George Town, The Creek and Bloody Bay. The same applies for George Town yacht registration, meaning that if the port of choice does not have a name available, the other two may allow for that specific registration. When the name is available in all three ports, it can be registered across all three to allow the owner its single use. Names are reserved for 12 months and can be renewed and they are reserved and requested by the owner, the authorized person or the representative person. Another third party can also handle this step (the shipyard, for example, in case of new ships), however, such an action is subject to approval from the Registrar.

When registering a boat, it is important to fill in the appropriate forms including the details of the owner or the representative making the registration as well as provide the following documents:

  • boat certificate: this is the builder’s certificate for the boat for a new vessel or the bill of sale for one that has been purchased.
  • the Certificate of Good Standing: this is provided by the company owning the boat; for a Cayman Islands exempted company, or another resident company, the certificate of incorporation will suffice.
  • the Certificate of Survey: this, along with the International Tonnage Certificate will need to be carried out on the boat, depending on size and type, the use and number of passengers.
  • Others: included here are the Deletion Certificate for boats previously registered elsewhere, the registration fee and the tonnage fee.

An additional registration, however, one that is not carried out the by the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry but by the Utility Regulation and Competition Office is the ship radio station licensing. The operator of the radio is also required to have an Operator’s Certificate according to the equipment that is used on the vessel. Vessels also need to register their emergency position indicating radio beacon with appropriate maritime administration (for example, the NOAA in the USA).

One of our Cayman Islands incorporation agents can give you more information about the requirements to provide the company’s registration documents.

Other services offered by the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry include the change of vessel type, the registration of a mortgage, the deletion of a vessel, the transfer of ownership or the registration of a ship under construction. 

We invite you to watch the following video on boat registration:

Types of vessel registration in the Cayman Islands

There are two main categories of vessels that can be registered with the Cayman Islands authorities: George Town yacht registration and merchant vessel registration. For each of these two types, the individual who submits the registration needs to follow the steps described above, starting which choosing an available name, and then determine the ownership structure.

The ownership structure can be the following:

  1. Companies: a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a country in the EU or EEA or a country included in the Third Schedule of the Cayman Islands Money Laundering Regulations; companies that do not fall under these categories may still register a vessel under the Cayman flag if they are registered in the Cayman Islands as foreign companies and have a place of business here;
  2. Individuals: George Town yacht registration is possible for individual and joint users who are nationals of EU or EEA or a country included in the Third Schedule of the Cayman Islands Money Laundering Regulations; individuals who do not fall under these categories can be part-owners of a Cayman-registered vessel if the majority is owned by a qualified individual. This means that even though they do not qualify, individuals can still own 31 of the 64 shares in a vessel.

As far as the types of vessel registration are concerned, there are five possible cases:

  1. Full: the complete registration of a vessel and the receipt of the Certificate of British Registry upon completion;
  2. Interim: for the duration of a transfer of ownership for a foreign owner vessel to one that will be registered in the Cayman;
  3. Term: a temporary exception to full vessel registration, to be used when the owner in Cayman is not yet in the possession of the Certificate of Survey;
  4. Under construction: as the name suggests, when a vessel is still under construction;
  5. Demise charter: demise charter out and demise charter in vessel registration (when the owner leases the vessel to the charterer for  a period during which the latter will be fully liable for the use and management of the vessel).

Our team can help you if you are interested in full George Town yacht registration.

How can our Cayman Islands company formation agents assist boat owners?

Our team provides regular services for setting up a Cayman Islands company, however, we can provide dedicated services to those entrepreneurs who are interested in registering a vessel owned by the Cayman Islands exempted company. The operating environment for boat owners is as favorable as for opening a company, in a tax-neutral jurisdiction where the principles of the English Common Law govern and locally registered vessels benefit from British Consular Services and Royal Naval Assistance.

Under the conditions for registration set forth by the Maritime Authority, it is important to appoint an authorized person at the very beginning of the process when the owner of the boat is not present for the process. The representative person and the authorized person for George Town yacht registration can be the same in some cases, however, their functions are separate. The difference derives from the manner in which the person is appointed: two different forms are used, and the representative person needs to accept their appointment by submitting a declaration. When the vessel is under joint-ownership, owe of the owners can act as the authorized person through a power of attorney and in this case he is appointed through the form designated for the authorized person (form CISR 855). The owner of the vessel is still allowed to deal with the Registry directly even if he has appointed a representative. One of our agents can assist you during this step.

In most cases, George Town yacht registration is a process that can be completed within 24 hours after the receipts of all the needed documents and after all of the fees have been paid. The Registry also offers an over-the-counter service for an additional fee, through which the registration is completed immediately, also dependent on whether or not the complete documentation is submitted. The documents can be submitted in printed form or by email, however, when the originals are not provided immediately, the individual undertakes that he will supply the originals within 7 days of registration.

The following statistics were issued by the Cayman Port Authority concerning passenger and cargo transportation:

  • the number of cruise ship passengers in January 2019 was 217,111 while for the same month in 2018 it was 218,430.
  • the total vessel calls (vessels that dock during the course of a voyagefor January 2019 was 95, with an average of 76 for the month of January in the 2010-2019 period.
  • as far as the container value expressed in tons according to the port of origin, in January 2019 there were 12,137 tons on vessels from Port Everglades and 10,051 tons on vessels originating from Jamaica; shipments from Port Everglades also recorded a high value (in tons) for June 2019, at 12,468. 

Contact our Cayman Islands incorporation agents for more detailed answers to these questions as well as more information about the services we provide to investors and entrepreneurs.