The Bahamas' Shipping Registry
It is the country's goal to become the world's largest ship registry over the next decade, and ship owners of all nationalities are welcome to fly The Bahamas flag.
| Ship registration is a relatively new business
in The Bahamas, yet the country has grown from less than
one million gross tons to be the world's fifth largest
fleet in little more than a decade. Since the passing of
the Merchant Shipping Act of 1976, more than 1,500
vessels, representing over 25 million gross tons, have
chosen to register here. Many of the most respected
international ship-owning companies fly the Bahamian
flag, including Exxon International, Maersk
Line, Teekay Shipping, and Chevron.
Some of the luxury vessels registered include the ships
of Norwegian Cruise Lines and Holland-America
Cruises; others are cargo steamers, frigates,
freighters, tankers and tugboats.
The Bahamas' success as a marine centre is due to a number of factors:
RegistrationThe requirements for Bahamian registration are that the vessel be engaged in "foreign going trade," weigh 1,600 tons or more, and be under 12 years of age. Vessels more than 12 years old may also be approved for registration, subject to a successful condition survey conducted by one of seven delegated Classification Societies: ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LRS, NKK, or RINA. Special consideration is being given to owners of small vessels through a reduction of tariffs and fees.
Competitive/Simple FeesThe Bahamas offers competitive registration fees:
TaxationThe operations and income associated with Bahamas Flag vessels are entirely tax-free, as are capital gains on the sale of vessels. Foreign-owned vessels of more than 150 GRT are also exempt from Bahamas customs duties and documentary stamp taxes, whether they call at local ports or not.
Crewing FlexibilityForeign officers and crew members may serve on Bahamian-registered vessels provided that the officers hold foreign professional certification acceptable to The Bahamas Maritime Authority and the crew possess national certification which conforms to Standards of Training, Certification and Watching (STCW) regulations.
Survey & CertificationShipowners can transfer foreign-registered vessels under twelve years old to the Bahamian flag without a survey. Such vessels would be required to have a safety inspection within six months of first registration, and thereafter annually. The safety inspections are conducted by a comprehensive network of nautical inspectors in over 300 ports throughout the world, who are authorised by the Bahamas Government for this purpose.
Statutory surveys and the issue of statutory certificates may be carried out by one of the seven classification societies approved for the purpose: ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LRS, NKK, and RINA. These arrangements reflect The Bahamas' long commitment to the maintenance of stringent standards of maritime safety.
The Bahamas Maritime AuthorityEstablished on July 1, 1995, The Bahamas Maritime Authority BMA), with its headquarters in London, is a semi-autonomous, government-owned corporation, specifically designed to be responsive to the needs of the maritime market place. While the BMA will be self-funding from revenues generated from within, the government has allocated US$1 million 'seed money' to expedite a number of enhancements to present operations. Guided by advice from leading shipowners, the BMA is increasing staff, streamlining registry procedures, and instituting improvements in support systems.
The BMA's focus is on:
For further information on ship registration in The Bahamas, including rates and regulations, contact:
P.O. Box N4679
Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas
Bahamas Maritime Authority