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Shipowner Eligibility 

A Curaçao ship is a Netherlands ship, but is registered in either the ownership register or the bareboat charter register of Curaçao. Registration is possible when the owner or charterer is either a Dutch national, a national of one of the EEC countries, a Curaçao, Aruban or Dutch corporation meeting certain requirements, or a corporation established under the laws of one of the EEC countries. In practice, the owner or bareboat charterer is always a Curaçao corporation, meeting the set requirements and formed specifically to own or charter a ship.

About the Flag

Curaçao is the main island of what was until October 10 2010 the Netherlands Antilles. The Netherlands Antilles consisted of two Leeward Islands, Curaçao and Bonaire, and the three Windward Islands Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba. These islands enjoyed self-determination on all internal matters and deferred to the Netherlands in matters of defense, foreign policy, and some judicial functions.

The Government of the Antilles had successfully established a major base for the registration of foreign ships. Under the Shipping Act and the Shipping Decree, which is a matter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, ships could be registered under the above mentioned flag.

On October 10, 2010, the Netherlands Antilles dissolved as a country, due to the restructuring of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In its place, two new countries came into existence, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, the two largest islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. The remaining three smaller islands were integrated in The Netherlands under a special legal status. Curaçao and Sint Maarten remain autonomous countries within the Kingdom. As a consequence, the Netherlands Antilles Ship Register on this date transferred to Curaçao and became the Curaçao Ship Register. The Directorate of Shipping and Maritime Affairs, which manages the register, was also transferred to Curaçao and continues as the Maritime Authority of Curaçao. The transfer has had no external or internal legal effects, other than the change of name. All flag state responsibilities concerning vessels registered in the former country Netherlands Antilles rest with the new country Curaçao.

The economy of Curaçao depends on tourism, the refining and transshipment of Venezuelan petroleum, and offshore finance. Consequently, the it has a more developed infrastructure than other nearby countries. Another major industry is ship repairing. Curaçao's ship-repair dry dock is one of the largest of the Western Hemisphere. Its capital is Willemstad.

Curaçao vessels fly the Dutch flag, but the registry is considered an open registry.

Company Formation

To meet the nationality requirements, the owner of the vessel has to incorporate a shipping company in the legal form of a public limited liability company (N.V.) in Curaçao, provided that a local private individual of Dutch nationality acts as a sole managing director. The shipping company will then be treated as a Dutch citizen as referred to in Article 1(1), sub j. Ownership of the ship concerned is transferred from abroad to the aforesaid shipping company on the ground of either purchase agreement or a deed of contribution. Having met the above mentioned requirements, the ship will then be a Curaçao-flagged ship.


For more information, please see the Dutch Tax Administration website.

Registration and Documentation

There are three steps for provisional registration. First, the following documents must be submitted to the registration office:
- Copies of all certificates
- Ships plans and stability information
- Company statutes
- List of radio equipment
- Proposal for safe manning document and ships operational manuals (sopep, safety, etc.)
- Original Bill of Sale, Builder's Certificate, or other document evidencing transfer of title
- Original International Certificate of Measurement

Even though the registration of a ship is not part of the surveying and certification all documents for the latter two items need to be submitted to the Shipping Inspectorate prior to the issuance of any (provisional) documents.

Proof of deletion from the ship's former register is not formally required, but is in practice required by responsible professionals to enable the authorities to assert the vessel is deleted from its former register. In unusual circumstances and with sufficient guarantees, there is the flexibility to permit registration in the Curaçao without immediate documentary evidence of the deletion in the old register.

Next, a Measurement Certificate must be issued. Curaçao is party to the Oslo (1947) and London (1969) ship measurement conventions. If the ship has already been measured in accordance with these conventions, the central Curaçao Ship Inspectorate will be in a position to issue a definite Measurement Certificate. If not, the inspectorate will prepare a provisional certificate on the basis of information supplied by the builder, or of the non-conventional measurement certificates until a measurement survey can take place.

Finally, a Certificate of Registration, called a "Sealetter," and Temporary Radio License are issued. The Sealetter authorizes the ship to sail under Dutch flag, and the Radio License assigns the radio call code and authorizes the use of the radio and radar installations.

Upon completion of the three steps, a vessel may commence sailing under the Dutch flag. This process normally takes a few days.

Permanent registration may take place upon presentation to the Registry office a Declaration of Ownership, the Measurement Certificate, and a Judge's confirmation that the owner has met the statutory nationality requirements. At the time of permanent registration, the vessel is assigned an official number consisting of the year of registration, the abbreviation for the island home port, and a number indicating sequence of registration and home port. This official number is carved or branded in the vessel by the inspectorate or by a classification society chosen by the shipowner and authorized by the inspectorate and evidenced by a Branding Certificate. If the owner has elected to be subject to the tonnage tax instead of the profit tax, the vessel must be registered in the Register of Taxable Ships.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Under bareboat charter, a shipowner leases a ship to an operator, which becomes responsible for the operation of the vessel. That vessel already registered in the Curaçao Register, may be registered under the flag of another state for an unlimited duration. This type of registration allows the shipowner to maintain the original registration, which is merely suspended during the chartering but regains its effectiveness upon termination of the charter. The ship is then fully operated by the charterer, who also employs the captain and crew. Only the ship ("bareboat") is chartered; captain and crew are subordinate to the charterer.

The nationality requirements for a normal registration apply equally to a ship's entry in the public bareboat charter registry, as does the obligation of the charterer to have a permanent agent in the Netherlands Antilles, who must be able at all times to submit all necessary information relating to the ship, the crew and the cargo to the Directorate of Shipping & Maritime Affairs, whenever the latter so demands.
The Certificate of Registry Decree also provides for bareboat charters within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A seagoing vessel registered in Curaçao can be leased under a bareboat charter to a Dutch charterer. The validity of the Certificate of Registry issued for the Curaçao ship, will then be suspended (bareboat-out) during the term for which the competent authorities of another part of the Kingdom have issued a Certificate of Registry for the same ship (bareboat-in).

The bareboat system is regulated in Articles 4(1) and 5 through 8 of the Certificate of Registry Decree. Referring to Article 1(1), sub j or k of the Certificate of Registry Decree, the bareboat charter can remain intact and the ship preserves its Curaçao nationality.

In addition to the documents needed for regular registry, the following are also required:
Bareboat in:
- Bareboat charter contract
- Consent from underlying registry
- Consent from owners

Bareboat out: Declaration from receiving bareboat registry that the vessel will be accepted in that registry and dual flag is not possible under that registry.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

Vessels are eligible for registration in Curaçao if they can be qualified as Curaçao vessels and measure at least 6 gross tons. There are no age or tonnage requirements. Vessels registered in Curaçao fly the Dutch flag and, consequently, must comply with the normal safety requirements of that country. A vessel must be surveyed and in class before it can be permanently registered.

Surveyors from both the Curaçao and the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorates are available to conduct surveys. Inspections and special surveys may also be handled by the following authorized classification societies:
- American Bureau of Shipping
- Bureau Veritas
- China Corporation Register of Shipping
- Det Norske Veritas
- Lloyd's Register of Shipping
- Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
- Registro Italiano Navale

All Safety Certificates, the crew list and seaman's books are issued by the Curaçao inspectorate in close cooperation with the Dutch Inspectorate of Shipping and Classified Surveyors.


There are no nationality requirements for the master, officers and crew of vessels registered in Curaçao. All crewmembers should hold STCW certificates. This is the only requirement. There is no obligation to speak English or any other language. Certificates from all STCW member countries are accepted.
The shipowner may submit a proposal for safe manning. Depending on some criteria concerning the ship, equipment, trading area, training of the crewmembers, machinery etc. the crew composition is set. There is a seafarers union in Curaçao representing local seafarers. Seafarers not residing in Curaçao are not covered by the Curaçaoan social laws.

However the Commercial Code requires the shipowner to sign a contract with the seafarer in which the social security of the crewmember is addressed.


A mortgage ("hypotheek") on a vessel registered in Curaçao is established by the execution of a deed of mortgage before a Curaçao Civil law notary and the recording of an extract of that deed at the Office of the Registrar of Mortgages and Ship's Certificates where the vessel is registered. It is only upon permanent ship registration that a mortgage may be recorded.

A valid mortgage can be granted by the owner of a vessel registered in Curaçao for any present or future indebtedness of himself or a third party. There are no restrictions as to the nationality of the mortgagee. In the event of default, the mortgagee may not take possession of the vessel or sell her privately, but has to sell the vessel in a public auction.

A mortgage usually also secures all expenses incurred by the mortgagee to obtain payment of all indebtedness and to protect all interests of the mortgagee. If a vessel ceases to be a Curaçao vessel, all debts secured by a mortgage registered in the Curaçao become due. In case the vessel is sold outside Curaçao, the mortgagee should be given personal notice of such a sale, and must be permitted to protect and claim any rights and interests in the vessel. The mortgage will otherwise remain valid and in effect until the indebtedness is paid, even after the vessel has ceased to be registered in Curaçao and notwithstanding the existence of any mortgage granted outside of Curaçao. When more than one mortgage is registered on a ship, the mortgages rank in order of registration, with mortgages registered on the same day ranking equally. The ship's mortgage has the highest priority and ranks only after:
Costs of foreclosure
Wages due to master and crew
Salvage, pilot dues, canal and harbor dues (however, once a new voyage has commenced, these dues lose their priority)
Collision claims
Registration tax for the current and immediately past years


For more information, contact the Registry:
Maritime Authority of Curaçao
Seru Mahuma, Meteo Building
Willemstad, Curaçao
Tel: + (599-9) 839-3700
Fax: + (599-9) 868-9964
Mr. Jan Sierhuis, Director


Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
Ms Lauranne Hintjens
Policy Advisor
Directorate-General for Civil Aviation and Maritime Affairs
Unit Maritime Shipping
P.O. Box 20904
2500 EX The Hague

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 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
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
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Curaçao (A Netherlands Ship)

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x
SOLAS Agreement 96 x
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72 x
CSC amendments 93 x
SFV Protocol 93 x
Cape Town Agreement 2012 x
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95 x
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76 x
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008 x
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
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 x
London Convention Protocol 96 x
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76 x
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76 x
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71 x
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76 d
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005 x
SUA Protocol 2005 x
SALVAGE Convention 89 x
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x: Accession/ratification
d: Denunciation

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