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Shipowner Eligibility 

Eligibility for registration of a vessel on the Irish Ship Register is confined to either:
• An Irish citizen or body corporate, or
• A national of a Member State of the European Communities or a body established under and subject to the law of a Member State and having its principal place of business in a Member State.
• A citizen or body corporate of a state with whom Ireland has reciprocal or mutual recognition arrangements (reciprocating states are Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom)

About the Flag

Ireland, a member of the EU, UN and IMO, is comprised of 26 counties occupying five-sixths of an island in the North Atlantic Ocean to the west of Great Britain. Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, comprises the northeastern sixth of the island. Most of Ireland's population is descended from the Celts. Gaelic, a modern form of ancient Celtic, and English are the official languages. A republic with its capital in Dublin, Ireland has a legal system based on English common law, as modified by statute since the country gained its independence, but subject to a Constitution (Bunreacht Na hireann).

Ireland's economy was agricultural until the 1950s, when a period of rapid industrialization began. Today, exports of chemicals, data processing equipment, and industrial machinery are the mainstays of the economy. Ireland's unit of currency is the Euro, and its major trading partners are other Member States of the EU and the United States.

The Mercantile Marine Act, 1955, together with regulations made under that Act, governs ship registration. The Irish shipping and shipping services sector has its own dedicated development office, the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO). The IMDO operates under the aegis of the Marine Institute.

Company Formation

The Companies Acts 1963-2012 and related regulations deal with private and public companies with unlimited or limited liability (by shares or guarantee). A company on formation must satisfy the Registrar of Companies that it will carry on an activity in Ireland. The company must have at least one director resident in a European Economic Area (EEA) state or else provide a bond in the prescribed form to the value of €25,394.76, unless an existing company which satisfies the real and continuous link with one or more economic activities that are being carried on in Ireland.

A minimum of two shares must be subscribed for at incorporation of a private company limited by shares other than a single member company. Public companies have a minimum capital requirement of €38,092) allotted share capital paid up to the extent of at least 25% of nominal value and 100% of any share premium. Capital may be expressed in any currency. Subscribers of any nationality and their agents may incorporate by filing a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association on the prescribed form with the Companies Registration Office. Company formation normally takes from 5 working days to 15 working days.

Private companies have between one and fifty shareholders while public companies must have a minimum of seven. Corporate bodies may hold shares in a company. There must be a registered office in Ireland which may be the office of a bank, lawyer, or accountant. Every company must have at least two directors and a secretary who may be one of the directors. A corporation may not be a director but may be the secretary. In a private company, no qualifications are required to be the secretary, unlike in the case of a public limited company. Directors and the secretary need not be Irish. There is a requirement of at least one resident director save in certain limited circumstances (see above).

Every company is obliged to hold an annual general meeting and annual returns must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies. Among the particulars filed are the names of the shareholders and the financial statements of the company. Financial statements must be audited, but there is a possibility of exemption for small companies which satisfy certain conditions from having their accounts audited.


Shipping companies qualify for the 12.5% tax rate as opposed to the normal rate of 16%. For a national registry in a stable and industrially developed nation, this is a particularly generous tax allowance. A tonnage taxation regime is also available to shipping companies allowing them a close to zero-rated corporate tax rate in exchange for strategic and commercial management operations.

Registration and Documentation

The administrative work involved in ship registration as well as the day to day maintenance of the Register is handled by the various Registrars of Shipping at the 13 designated Ports of Registry (Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick, Skibbereen, Sligo, Tralee, Waterford, Westport and Wexford). Applications may be submitted to any of these offices. Requisite documentation must be presented in the original.

Ship owners should apply in writing to have their ships registered under the Mercantile Marine Act 1955. When an owner is a body corporate, originals of the Memorandum and Articles of Association together with Certificate of Incorporation of the company must be produced for inspection. An officer must also be appointed under the seal of the company to make declarations on its behalf.

The name of the ship must be approved using Form GR342. The ship must not be registered under any name other than that which she bore abroad except with the previous written permission of the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources. Application for approval to change the name of a ship should be addressed to the Shipping Policy Section, Department of the Marine and Natural Resources.

A valid Bill of Sale free from encumbrance to the Irish owner must be submitted and should be signed personally by the vendor if given by an individual and his signature authenticated by an Irish or British Consul. If given by a body corporate, the signatures must be notarized by a notary public and authenticated/legalized by an Irish or British Consul. Other necessary documents to accompany the application for registration are the Certificate of Deletion from the previous foreign register and the Declaration of Ownership on the appropriate statutory form referring to the ship as described in the Certificate of Survey, notarized by a Commissioner of Oaths or by an Irish or British Consul.

Arrangements must be made with the Marine Survey Office for an official survey of the vessel and a manager must be appointed for the vessel. The vessel must be marked in accordance with the Carving and Marking Note to be issued by the Registrar of Shipping. The duration of the Registration of Title is not subject to any time limitation. The question of temporary registration is currently under review.

Copies of registration and associated data pertaining to a vessel registration undertaken at the 13 Ports of Registry can be accessed from the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources, which acts, inter alia as a central records office and which releases biannual statistics. Enquiries citing official numbers regarding port of registry of a specific registered vessel can be directed to the Shipping Policy Section of the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources or the Superintendent at the Mercantile Marine Office.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Bareboat charter registration into or out of the Irish flag is not allowed.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

There are currently no upper age limits for registration. Older vessels will normally attract more stringent surveys for certification. Surveys associated with registration are carried out by surveyors from the Marine Survey Office of the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. In certain circumstances, the Department may appoint individual surveyors abroad to act on its behalf in relation to such registration surveys. Certain other survey functions, e.g. Loadline, Cargo-Ship Safety Construction, Marpol, etc., are delegated to recognised classification societies.


Ratings of all nationalities may be employed on Irish flagged vessels provided they are qualified seafarers and hold Watchrating Certificates as required by the STCW Convention. Deck and Engineer Officers on Irish vessels are required to hold either valid Certificates of Competency issued by the Irish authorities or corresponding certificates of another state which have been recognized by the Irish Government as equivalent to an Irish Certificate of Competency. Currently, there are such reciprocal arrangements in force between Ireland and Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The question of harmonizing mutual recognition of EU seafarer Certificates of Competency is currently being addressed by the EU Commission and/or Bilaterally by member states. All enquiries should be addressed to the Marine Survey Office.


Ship mortgages and mortgagees are duly protected under Irish law. Mortgages are ranked in priority according to the date and time of acceptance for registration. Individuals or joint mortgagees or bodies corporate are eligible to register mortgages, and there are no nationality restrictions. However, nonresidents and banks whose registered head office is established outside the Republic of Ireland who seek to register mortgages on registered vessels require prior Ministerial sanction under Section 62 of the Mercantile Marine Act 1955.

There are four official forms pertaining to the registration of mortgages. Form 11 (CU80) and Form 11A (CU80A) pertain to the securing of mortgages in account current form in respect of individual/joint ownership and bodies corporate respectively. Form 12 (CU81) and Form 12A (CU81A) pertain to the securing of principal sum and interest in respect of individual/joint ownership and bodies corporate respectively.

Mortgages must be signed and sealed by the individual(s) in the case of individual/joint ownership and by affixment of the company seal in the case of bodies corporate. Mortgages must be witnessed by an independent witness in the case of individual/joint ownership. Mortgages are registered at the port of registry of the vessel, assuming, of course, the prior registration of the vessel. No Certificate of Deletion from the Irish Register will be issued until all recorded encumbrances have been discharged


For further information, please consult


Mercantile Marine Office
Department of Transport,
Leeson Lane,
Dublin 2 , D02TR60
Phone number:+353 (0) 1 6783480

Marine Survey Office
5th floor, Leeson Lane,
Dublin 2, D02 TR60

The Irish Maritime Development Office
Three Park Place,
Upper Hatch Street,
Dublin 2 D02 FX65
Telephone: +353 1 775 39 00

Company Formation
Companies Registration Office
Bloom House,
Gloucester Place Lower,
Dublin 1, D01 C8P4

Taxation Information
Office of the Revenue Commissioners

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 Ireland

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
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93 x
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
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 d
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76 d
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74 d
PAL Protocol 76 d
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76 x
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89 x
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96

x= ratification

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