General guidance notes
The Registry is open to vessels, currently up to a limit of 150 gross tonnage (as ascertained under the Merchant Shipping (Tonnage) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Regulations 2009, particularly pleasure yachts.
Vessels intended for commercial use (up to a maximum of 24 metres loadline length - ITC69) can be registered but must comply fully with the Code of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels and manning requirements. Further details on the Code of Practice can be obtained from the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
To qualify for registration, the majority of shares in a vessel (33 of the 64) must be owned either by a British subject or a company registered in and having its principal place of business in a British Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory. Foreign nationals may own up to 31 shares in a vessel, provided that the remainder of the shares are in 'qualified ownership'. Any shares jointly owned by qualified and unqualified owners count as unqualified shares.
Registration of a vessel under 'Part I' of the Merchant Shipping (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2002 gives legal title to the vessel, recognition as a British ship and enables other transactions such as mortgages and Court Orders to be registered on the vessel.
In order to complete registration of a vessel, a number of documents are required. Statutory forms also need to be completed, which are available on this page.
Prior to registry you need to reserve the ship's name. It must be unique to the port of Guernsey and the Registrar has the right to approve or refuse. An application for name approval remains valid for 12 months.
Please download the form below and email it to the Registry. You should complete this form with as much detail as possible.
On receipt of confirmation that the required vessel name is available, you may apply to register the ship. All (as applicable) of the following documentation must be submitted by post.
Application to register
Appointment of authorised officer(s) for company owned vessels
Declaration of ownership for company owned shares
Declaration of ownership for individually or jointly owned shares
Copy of the certificate of incorporation of the company, if the vessel is corporately owned.
This should consist of the builder's certificate, for newly built vessels, or bills of sale for second-hand vessels. These forms are prescribed in law and advice should be sought from the Registry if there is uncertainty regarding the acceptability of any document. If the vessel is purchased from a qualified owner (see above) then further bills of sale must be produced to provide evidence of unbroken ownership back to a non-qualified owner or to the builder's certificate.
Evidence of the deletion or cancellation of any previous British or foreign registration must be provided.
Tonnage measurement survey
This should be commissioned at as early a stage as possible after confirmation of the vessel name has been received from the Registry. The survey can only be carried out by certain qualified surveyors and a list is available from the Registry.
There is no annual tonnage tax on British Ships registered at the port of Guernsey.
When the Registry has received ALL the required documents, formal marking instructions may be issued. This will include details of the official number (issued by the Registry), the register or net tonnage and the vessel's name and port of registry, to be marked on the vessel in accordance with these instructions.
On completion of the marking of the vessel, either photographic evidence, as specified by the Registry should be submitted or, if the vessel is present in Guernsey, the Registrar will schedule an inspection. When the Registrar is satisfied that vessel has been marked in accordance with Registry regulations, the Registrar will proceed to complete Registration and issue the Certificate of British Registry (commonly known as the 'blue book').
The Registry is normally able to process transactions and documentation presented on a same-day service basis. However, tonnage measurement surveys are outside the control of the Registry and applicants should ensure that sufficient time is allowed for the entire registration process to be completed. All forms are available by post or on request by e-mail from the Registry and the most commonly used forms are also available from the Registry's website.
This note is not intended to be conclusive in the information given and any questions on more specific registry matters including other types of transactions should be sent to the following address:
Registry of British Ships
P.O. Box 631
St Julian's Emplacement
St Peter Port
Tel: 01481 705822 / 720229
Fax: 01481 705824 / 714177