OFFICIAL GUIDE TO SHIP & YACHT REGISTRIES

Belize

Shipowner Eligibility 

There are no requirements concerning local ownership or participation in ownership.

About the Flag

Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize is situated on the east coast of Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea between Guatemala and Mexico. For 4,000 years, Belize formed the keystone of the empire of the ancient Maya Indians whose advanced culture flourished even as the first shipwrecked British vessels landed. Belize is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented in the country by Governor General Dr. Colville N. Young, Sr., a Belizean and Belize's second governor general. The primary executive organ of government is the cabinet, led by a prime minister (head of government). Cabinet ministers are members of the majority political party in parliament and usually hold elected seats in the National Assembly concurrently with their cabinet positions. The capital is Belmopan, and Belize is a member of the UN, and the IMO.

A combination of natural factors - climate, the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, numerous islands, excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, jungle wildlife, and Mayan ruins - support the thriving tourist industry. The Government of Belize has designated tourism as one of its major development priorities. English is the official language, and the United States is the main trading partner. The unit of currency is the Belize dollar, worth one-half of a US Dollar (fixed exchange rate).

The International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) operates under the authority of the Minister of Finance who is also the Prime Minister. IMMARBE develops its activities through a main office located in Belize City known as IMMARBE’s Head Office and through a number of designated offices located in the main ports of the world.

Incentives

· No restrictions as to who can apply for registration;

· The maritime Law is derived from the English common Law system supplemented by local legislation. There is also a pool of legal professionals devoted to the expeditious processing of most maritime related affairs;

· No restrictions on the class, type, or size of vessel that can be registered;

· There is an extensive network of overseas deputy registrars to facilitate registration of vessels. Applications may be submitted by fax allowing for same day registration;

· No requirement to have a local crew;

· Belize is known for its high standard of safety and is signatory to numerous maritime safety conventions including: Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Tonnage Measurement of Ships, International Convention on Load Lines, Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, and International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea;

· Vessels registered with IMMARBE are exempt from all forms of local income tax and stamp duties.

Company Formation

Domestic companies may be formed under the Companies Act (Chapter 206) of the Laws of Belize as amended. There are no minimum capital requirements, and such companies may not issue bearer shares of no par value. Domestic companies must have at least one director and one secretary who need not be residents. Annual meetings of shareholders are obligatory. Domestic companies must file annual returns and for public companies, audited accounts.

The International Business Companies Act of 1990 created a special category of company known as an International Business Company ("IBC") in order to attract foreign investment and capital, and which can be used abroad for different purposes such as financial management, investment holdings, share ownership of other companies, leasing of assets, copyrighting and/or licensing, general commercial trading, and ownership of vessels registered in Belize or other foreign registries. There are significant tax incentives for IBCs including exemption from local taxation and stamp duty.

IBCs must have a minimum of one director who may be an individual or corporation and need not be resident in the country. A secretary is mandatory and also need not be resident. Meetings of shareholders and/or directors are optional and may be held in any country at any time, and attendance by proxy is allowed. Bearer shares may be issued, and no accounts or information pertaining to the identity of shareholders or directors need be filed on public record. An IBC's Register of Shareholders is available for inspection only by shareholders or by order of the Belize Courts at the request of a shareholder. Shares can be issued without par value. It is a requirement for the IBCs to have a registered office and agent in Belize. Names may be in any language but must include the words "Limited," "Corporation," "Incorporated," "Society Anonyme," "Sociedad Anonime," or their abbreviations. There are no exchange controls imposed on IBCs.

Subscribers to either domestic companies or IBCs may be personal or corporate. Nominee shareholding is permissible through the services of local registered agents and all incorporations must be arranged through a local registered agent. Ready made corporations are available. It normally takes less than seven days to incorporate a domestic company. However, a modern computerized registry and centralized processing facilities makes company formation of IBCs an immediate operation. All that is necessary is the filing of the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Start up costs are very reasonable and compare most favorably with many other offshore jurisdictions.

IBC's are tax exempt from payment of local taxes.

Taxation

Domestic companies are taxed at the rate of 35% of net profits. However, under the Fiscal Incentives Act, companies that are incorporated in Belize and undertake enterprises that are beneficial to the economy of Belize may be granted tax exemptions if the Minister of Finance is satisfied that it is expedient in the public interest to do so. The minimum foreign investment that would qualify for a tax exemption is US $125,000.00

Tax exemptions are normally granted for five years in the first instance. Upon review of the enterprise, this may be extended for a further term not exceeding ten years. In the case of a company which is engaged in agriculture, agro-industry, food processing, or manufacturing, and the operation is highly labor-intensive and production is strictly for export, the tax exemption may be for a maximum of 25 years. Generally, companies in the aforementioned areas have more favorable status.

IBCs are exempt from local taxes.

Annual Tonnage Tax
Vessels of up to 500 GT $0.10 per NT of fraction thereof (minimum of $50 per vessel)
Vessels of 501 GT to 7500 GT $0.10 per NT or fraction thereof (minimum of $200 per vessel)
Vessels of 7501 GT and over $0.10 per GT (no minimum)
Super Yachts in commercial use $0.20 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $500
Large Yachts in commercial use $0.20 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $500
Small Yachts in commercial use $0.20 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $500
Super Yachts in private use $0.15 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $400
Large Yachts in private use $0.15 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $300
Small Yachts in private use $0.15 per GT or fraction thereof, minimum $200
Annual Taxes for Pleasure Vessels (Sporting, Recreational and Non-Commercial Vessels) less than 10 m in length $250.00
Annual Service Tax
Vessels of up to 1000 GT $300.00
Vessels of 1001 to 2000 GT $550.00
Vessels of 2001 to 7500 GT $1,100.00
Vessels of7501 to 25000 GT $1,500.00
Vessels of 25001 GT and over $3,000.00
Super Yachts $300.00
Large Yachts $200.00
Small Yachts $100.00
Annual Inspection Tax
Vessels of up to 1500 GT $500.00
Vessels of 1501 to 7500 G.T. $1,000.00
Vessels of 7501 to 25000 GT $1,500.00
Vessels of 25001 GT and over $3,000.00
Super Yachts $2,000.00
Large Yachts $1,500.00
Small Yachts $500.00

For a list of tax incentives for which you may be eligible, consult this document.

Registration and Documentation

To facilitate the operations and to ensure and expedite service to those interested in registering their vessels under the Belize flag, IMMARBE operates through a network of Designated Offices located in the main ports and shipping centers of the world. These offices are empowered to process applications and issue all necessary documents related to the registration of vessels. The Head Office, located in Belize City, has daily and regular contact with all Designated Offices for the purposes of authorizations, instructions, and updating records. As of April 1, 1996, under the amended Act, a provisional registration is valid for six months, during which time the shipowner or his/her representative is expected to gather all documents necessary for permanent registration. To apply and obtain a provisional license from IMMARBE, the following documentation is required:
Vessels up to 7500 GT:
Request for confirmation of availability of vessel's name
Application for Registration of Ships form duly completed and signed by the applicant. One application for each vessel is required. This application includes the necessary information for the issuance of a Provisional Ship Station License.
Proof of Ownership in the form of a Bill of Sale, Auction Document or Builder's Certificate
Power of Attorney appointing a shipping agent in Belize
Valid Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate in compliance with GMDSS Code (where applicable)
International Tonnage Certificate (where applicable)
Proof of compliance with ISM Code-Copy of Document of Compliance and Safety Management Certificate (where applicable)
Application form for ISPS compliance (where applicable)
Application for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (where applicable)
Letter of confirmation from an authorized radio accounting entity undertaking the payment of vessel's radio accounts
Letter of undertaking from ship owner that the applications for the Endorsements of Licenses for officers will be submitted
Vessels of 7501 GT and above: New quality criteria were introduced with effect from 1st November 2001. Basically the same procedure for registration is followed as for vessels up to 7500 GT except that:
All applicants must confirm that they have Third Party Liability Insurance Cover e.g. P&I cover.
Only vessels classed with IACS may be accepted.
Certificate of Deletion from previous Registry or permission to transfer or delete or other proof of consent to transfer Registry from current Registry is required.

Fishing Vessels
For the registration of fishing vessels, the application will require data as to the intended area of fishing, the specification of the particular type and means of fishing as well as the species targeted. All fishing vessel must comply with the High Seas Fishing Act of 2003.Fishing vessels are subject to the regional and international regulations applicable in the area of fishing that are implemented by regional organizations such as ICCAT, bilateral or multilateral agreements for the protection of certain areas or endangered marine species.
Special Registrations
IMMARBE also accepts vessels to be registered for a short period under special circumstances such as one delivery voyage for scrap. Procedures for special registration allow for documents to be issued with a validity of three months and automatic expiration when this period elapses.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Foreign vessels may be registered at IMMARBE as a second flag ("Charter in") under the terms of a charter party agreement provided that the original Registry extends a written consent. Upon submission of the Charter agreement, the consent from the original registry and the corresponding fees, special navigation and ship station licenses valid for up to two years is produced to the vessel.
A vessel registered at IMMARBE may obtain a parallel registration in another country's registry without affecting its status in Belize ("Charter out") also based on a charter party agreement. For this purpose, the applicant shall submit a formal application giving full details of the charter contract. If satisfied that all formalities have been complied with, the IMMARBE's Head Office may authorize the vessel's dual registration for a period of up to two years. During the term of the dual registration, the vessels shall continue to pay IMMARBE all relevant annual fees and fees and its title or any liens or encumbrances thereon shall be recorded at IMMARBE. In each case of dual registration into or out of the flag, an authenticated copy of the charter contract and a Consent from the foreign registry shall be submitted by the applicant to IMMARBE.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

Vessels up to 7500 GT:
The Registry of Belize is opened to any type, class, or size of vessel used for any lawful trade or activity, including vessels under construction. Nevertheless, vessels of 25 years or more are not accepted for registration except yachts, fishing vessels, non-propelled barges, special registrations and new registrations which are immediately chartered out. At the discretion of the Registry, the age limit of 25 years may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances based on the vessel's detention record, the ship owner/operator's record, the area of intended operation, the intended trade, and provided it is classed with an IACS Recognized Organization. Although Exemption Certificates are to be issued exclusively by IMMARBE's Head Office, a delegation of authority is vested into the following class societies and other surveying companies for the performance of marine surveys and issue of statutory certificates required by international conventions and national regulations:
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
Belize Maritime Bureau (BMB)
Bureau Veritas (BV)
China Corporation Register of Shipping (CR)
Class NK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai) (NK)
Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Inspeccion y Clasificacion Maritima (INCL)
Isthmus Bureau of Shipping, A.S. (IBS)
Korean Register of Shipping (KRS)
Lloyd's Register of Shipping (LRS)
Overseas Maritime Certification Services, Inc. (OCMS)
Panama Bureau of Shipping (PBS)
Panama Maritime Documentation Services (PMDS)
Registro Italian Navale (RINA)
RJ Del Pan (Belize) Co. Ltd. (RJDP)
Russian Maritime Register (R
Union Bureau of Shipping (UBS)

Vessels over 7501 GT:
Basically, the same criteria for eligibility apply as for vessels up to 7500 GT except:
There is no age restriction. However, vessels over 25 years old may be the subject of a General Safety Inspection prior to registration.
Vessels will only be accepted if they are classed with full members of IACS.
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
Bureau Veritas (BV)
China Classification Society (CCS)
Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Korean Register of Shipping (KRS)
Lloyd's Register of Shipping (LRS)
Class NK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai) (NK)
Registro Italian Navale (RINA)
Russian Maritime Register (RS)

The General Safety Inspection Program
All vessels registered at IMMARBE are subject to a safety inspection in order to ensure compliance with the national and international regulations. For this purpose an Inspection Fee is charged in the Annual Fees collected for each vessel. The inspection program contemplates an annual General Safety Inspection, but the Administration may order a re-inspection or a special inspection when it is considered necessary.

The General Safety Inspections can only be performed by inspectors who are authorized by IMMARBE for this purpose. Each inspection is co-coordinated by the Head Office.

Crewing

Every Belize registered ship must be in possession of a valid certificate of Minimum Safe Manning (MSM) which is issued by IMMARBE in accordance with the applicable IMO Conventions/Regulations and which specifies the minimum number and composition of the crew complement. The issuance of the MSM Certificate is guided by Resolution A 890(21) of the International Organization (IMO). Owners may apply for a reduced manning scale should their ships be designed and constructed with unattended machinery space, or are approved with any other machinery automation or remote controls, or trading in restricted areas. Any request for a reduction or for a special complement must be justified by the applicant for evaluation by Head Office.

Mortgages

A permanent mortgage can be registered anytime during the provisional term of the registration without first having to register the ownership and mortgage on a preliminary basis. The preliminary recording was designed for the convenience of the ship owner in cases where a mortgage recordings is required overnight to secure mortgagee's interests and not necessarily to save costs.

The only pre-requisite before recording a mortgage is the recording of title, be it preliminary or permanent. For preliminary recording, the ship owner would need to submit to the designated office (there is no need to do it through a law firm) an Application for Registration of Mortgage, and original or certified copy of the Bill of Sale, with signatures of parties involved duly notarized (if no title has been recorded) and original or certified copy of the Deed of Mortgage, with signatures of parties duly notarized.
The preliminary registration is valid for six calendar months and has the same legal effect of a permanent registration. Within the six months of validity of the preliminary certificates, the original or certified copies of the Bill of Sale and Deed of Mortgage must be submitted to Head Office for permanent recording. If ship owner opts not to record preliminary and goes for permanent registration, he can then submit the relative documentation cited above directly to Head Office through the designated office. Upon receipt of the documents and provided all is in order, mortgages recording can be effected within 24 - 48 hours.

Fees

Registration Fees US$
Vessels of up to 1000 GT $300
Vessels of 1001 to 2000 GT $550
Vessels of 2001 to 7500 GT $1,100
Vessels of 7501 to 25000 GT $1,500
Vessels of 25001 GT and over $3,000
Special Registration Fee
Vessels up to 3500 GT $1,000
Vessels of 3501 to 7500 GT $1,500
Vessels of over 7501 to 25000 GT $2,500
Vessels of 25001 GT and over $3,000
Documentary Fees
Provisional Patent of Navigation (vessels up to 7500 GT) $100
Provisional Patent of Navigation (vessels 7501 GT and over) $200
Provisional Ship Station License (vessels up to 7500 GT) $50
Provisional Ship Station License (vessels 7501 GT and over) $100
Permanent Patent of Navigation (vessels up to 7500 GT) $150
Permanent Patent of Navigation (vessels 7501 GT and over) $300
Permanent Ship Station License (vessels up to 7500 GT) $100
Permanent Ship Station License (vessels 7501 GT and over) $200
Re-issuance of Patent of Navigation/Ship Station License due to Transfer of ownership $750
Re-issuance of Patent of Navigation/Ship Station License due to change of vessel's name or tonnage resulting from modification:
- Vessels of up to 7500 GT. $500
- Vessels of 7501 GT and over $750
Re-issuance of a document due to loss or destruction or extension $300
Dual Registration Fee: (charter-in or charter-out) $300
Deletion Certificate:
- Vessels up to 7500 GT $750
- Vessels of 7501 GT and over $1,000
Ex-Officio Certification Letter:
- Vessels up to 7500 GT $750
- Vessels of 7501 GT and over $1,000
Exemption Certificate $250
Bunker Certificate $250
Civil Liability Certificate for Oil Pollution Damage $250
Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (permanent validity) $250
- For vessels up to 7500 GT registered under special registry $50
- For vessels over 7501 GT registered under special registry $100
Reissuance of Minimum Safe Manning Certificate due to name change and/or ownership change (regardless of GT) $100
Certificate of liens and encumbrances $200
Endorsement for Officers (OE) $150
Rating Endorsement (RE) $75
Certificate of Competency for Officer (CC-O) $250
Certificate of Compentency for Rating (CC-R) $150
Certificate of Competency for Yachts (CC-Y) $250
Seaman Book (SB) $125
Marine Technician (MT) $75
Ship Security Officer (SSO) $65
Special Training Certificate for certain types of ships $20
Certificate of Receipt of Application (CRA) for Special Registrations only $50
Replacement of each lost or destroyed Endorsement or Certificate of Competency $50
Issuance of a Specialized Training Certificate $20
Reservation of a vessel's name per month $20
Other certification $100
Yacht Registration
Registration Fees (Commercial)
(a) Provisional Fee (Super) $500
(b) Provisional Fee (large) $500
(c) Provisional Fee (Small) $300
Registration Fees (Private)
(a) Provisional Fee (Super) $400
(b) Provisional Fee (Large) $400
(c) Provisional Fee (Small) $200
Permanent Registration Fees (Commercial)
(a) Permanent Fee (Super) $600
(b) Permanent Fee (Large) $600
(c) Pennanent Fee (Small) $300
Permanent Registration Fees (Private)
(a) Permanent Fee (Super) $400
(b) Permanent Fee (Large) $400
(c) Permanent Fee (Small) $200
Annual International Participation & Casualty Investigation Fee
(a) Super Yachts $1,000
(b) Large Yachts $500
(c) Small Yachts $150
Annual Radio License Fee (Commercial or Private) $50
Annual Security Fee (as required) $150
Documentary Fees
Provisional Certificate of Registry (maximum 6 months)
Super Yachts (commercial) $150
Large Yachts (commercial) $125
Small Yachts (commercial) $75
Provisional Certificate of Registry (maximum 6 months)
Super Yachts (private) $100
Large Yachts (private) $100
Small Yachts (private) $50
Provisional Ship Station License (maximum 6 months)
Super Yachts (commercial) $100
Large Yachts (commercial) $100
Small Yachts (commercial) $50
Provisional Ship Station License (maximum 6 months)
Super Yachts (private) $75
Large Yachts (private) $75
Small Yachts (private) $50
Permanent Certificate of Registry (2 year validity)
Super Yachts (commercial) $200
Large Yachts (commercial) $175
Permanent Ship Station License (2 year validity)
Super Yachts (private) $200
Large Yachts (private) $100
Permanent Ship Station License (2 year validity)
Super Yachts (commercial) $150
Large Yachts (commercial $125
Permanent Ship Station License (2 year validity)
Super Yachts (private) $150
Large Yachts (private) $100
Renewal fee for permanent registration $100
Minimum Safe Manning Certificate
Super Yachts (commercial) $200
Large Yachts (commercial $150
Small Yachts (commercial) $75
Re-issuance fee for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate
Super Yachts (commercial) $100
Large Yachts (commercial $75
Small Yachts (commercial) $50
Re-issuance fee for Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR) $100
Certificate of Compliance (commercial or private use)
Super Yachts $200
Large Yachts $150
Small Yachts $100
Tonnage Measurement Certificate (commercial or private use) $100
Exemptions, waivers, dispensations for yachts in commercial use only $200
Re-issuance of Certificates due to change of owner, name change or other amendments $250

For a list of additional discounts for which you may be eligibile, please consult this document.

Contact

Head Office
International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE)
Marina Towers, Suite 204
Newton Barracks
Belize City, Belize C.A.
Tel: [501] (223) 5026 or [501] (223) 5031 or [501] (223) 5047
Fax: [501] (223) 5048
Email: immarbe@immarbe.com
Web: www.immarbe.com

Mrs. Annette Garel
Director-General & Senior Deputy Registrar
Deputy Registrar
Company Formation and Taxation Information
International Business Companies Registry (IBC)
Marina Towers, Suite 204
Newtown Barracks
Belize City, Belize

Mrs. Lourdes Haywood Bogaerts
Tel: [501] (223) 5108
Fax: [501] (223) 5124
Email: ibc@btl.net

Stockholm Agreement 96
IMO Convention 48
* IMO amendments 91 
* IMO amendments 93
SOLAS Convention 74
SOLAS Protocol 78
SOLAS Protocol 88
LOAD LINES Convention 66
LOAD LINES Protocol 88
TONNAGE Convention 69
COLREG  Convention 72
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
STCW  Convention 78
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR  Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT OA 76
INMARSAT amendments 94
INMARSAT amendments 98
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V)
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
INTERVENTION Protocol 73
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92
FUND Convention 71
FUND Protocol 92
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III)
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC  Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
OPRC/HNS 2000
BUNKERS CONVENTION 01
ANTI FOULING 01
BALLASTWATER 2004
NAIROBI WRC 2007
HONG KONG CONVENTION
HNS PROT 2010
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Belize

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x
SOLAS Agreement 96
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT OA 76
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
INTERVENTION Protocol 73
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76 x
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74 d
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
HNS PROT 2010
OPRC/HNS 2000
BUNKERS CONVENTION 01 x
ANTI FOULING 2001
BALLASTWATER 2004
NAIROBI WRC 2007 x
HONG KONG CONVENTION

x: Accession/ratification
d: Denunciation

Subscribe to Newsletter

Stay up-to date with the latest news and updates

Thanks for submitting!

Company Info

Social

  • Facebook
  • Twitter