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Isle of Man

Shipowner Eligibility 

A ship is eligible to be registered in the Isle of Man if it is owned by a citizen of or company incorporated in the Isle of Man, the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, any British Dependent Territory, or a member of the state of the EU or EEC.

In addition the following countries are eligible: Australia, Bahamas, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Monaco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and United States of America.

Limited partnerships established and registered in the Isle of Man in accordance with the Partnership Act 1909 and the International Business Act 1994 and in certain prescribed countries may also register a Manx vessel. A minority in a ship (i.e. up to 31 of 64 shares) may be owned by nonqualified persons.

For vessels over 24 metres registered in the Isle of Man, a representative person must be appointed in the Isle of Man.

About the Flag

The Isle of Man is located off the coast of Great Britain, in the Irish Sea. A self-governing British Crown dependency, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom but forms part of the British Isles. Its own Parliament controls all internal issues affecting the Island, while the United Kingdom acts on its behalf in international matters. The Isle of Man is not a full member of the EU, but it does have a special relationship that permits freedom of trade between the Island and the EU countries.

The capital is Douglas, English is spoken and the currency is the British pound. International banking, manufacturing, and tourism are the principal sectors of the economy. The United Kingdom is the major trading partner.

It is a busy offshore commercial and financial center with a wide range of sophisticated facilities, among them fund, trust and company management, insurance, including captive insurance and project finance.
The Isle of Man has a long established maritime industry, its first ships being registered in 1786. Manx vessels fly the British Red Ensign and as such are entitled to all British support including consular services throughout the world. If they wish, those registered owners resident in the Isle of Man may fly on their ship the Red Ensign incorporating the "Three Legs of Man."

Manx ships are within the regulatory jurisdiction of the Isle of Man's Ship Registry and are subject to the Merchant Shipping legislation in force from time to time in the Isle of Man, including the Merchant Shipping Registration Act 1991 covering vessel registration.

Company Formation

Over the past few years the Isle of Man has evolved into an international finance centre on a level with or ahead of many of its peers. Isle of Man Company Law is based on the Isle of Man Companies Act 2006, officially launched on 1st November 2006. The new company structure has been officially designed for international use, at the same time meeting key OECD expectations in terms of disclosure and corporate governance. The Act compliments the Islands neutral tax regime and offers the industry a customised corporate package specifically designed for a fast moving 21st century global market.

The Companies Act 2006 provides for a modern corporate vehicle that co-exists with present and future companies incorporated under previous legislation, including the Companies Acts 1931 to 2004, or under the Limited Liabilities Companies Act 1996.

The main benefits of the Act are:
• It combines the advantages of speed of incorporation and flexibility of use with the ease of administration
• It streamlines the process of setting up and running a company in the Isle of Man
• It is the only modern IBC model available in a European time zone
• It complements the Isle of Mans tax strategy introduced in April 2006

These benefits create a unique package, which, coupled with strong professional support on the Island, with over 200 licensed corporate service providers, offers an ideal environment for incorporation.
Provisions of the Companies Act 2006 are expected to have broad appeal in the specialist offshore market. Key elements include greater flexibility of use, greatly reduced and simplified reporting, use of regulated corporate directors, increased focus on registered agents, use in protected cell form and as a vehicle for operations to easily re-domicile to or from the Island. Features explained in more detail:
• Capital arrangements: There is no requirement for a company formed under the new Act to have an authorised share capital and shares of no par value will be permissible. Protected Cell Companies are permitted.
• Proceedings of the company: A company will be able to have unlimited capacity, and there will be no differentiation between public and private companies. Single directors will be permitted and there will be the ability to have corporate directors, although only licensed Isle of Man Corporate Service Providers (CSPs), or persons authorised by the Isle of Man Supervision Commission (FSC) will act as corporate service providers.
• Accounting and annual returns: The Act enables simplified financial reporting. Companies must maintain reliable accounting records to international standards but there will be no requirement to have them audited in most cases.
• Re-registrations, re-domiciliation and restructuring: The legislation will permit a 1931 Act company to re-register under the new Act subject to approval. Foreign companies will also offer the ability to merge or consolidate companies in a simple manner.

Over the past few years there has been a considerable rise in the number of companies incorporated in the Isle of Man and listing on London’s junior market, AIM, and other key capital markets. The Island is viewed as an ideal location for these companies due to its reputation as a well regulated international finance centre with a stable political, legal, fiscal, and regulatory environment.


Though British flagged, Manx registered ships are subject to the laws and regulations of the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man does not charge death or estate duties, capital transfer, or gift taxes, capital gains tax or wealth tax. The Isle of Man has a standard 0% rate of income tax for companies (with the exception of income from banking business and income from land and property in the Isle of Man which are liable to a 10% rate).

The Attribution Regime for Individuals was introduced for companies accounting periods commencing on or after 6 April 2008. The profits of all non-trading companies and trading companies which have not distributed a required amount of profits will be attributed to the resident shareholders who are then liable to income tax on those profits.

Copies of all the taxation agreements can be found on the Income Tax Divisions website.

In the absence of any double taxation agreement with a country, relief from double taxation is also given in the Isle of Man via the credit method in respect of income which suffers taxation.

Registration and Documentation

For a merchant vessel or commercial yacht you must contact the Ship Registry to see if a survey of the vessel is required prior to acceptance for registration and to ascertain that the ship complies with international conventions in respect to safety, prevention of oil pollution and manning. Further details regarding this can be found in the survey section.

There are various documents and forms to be completed and lodged with the registry department based on type of ship, and full details of these can be found on the registry website.

Due to the global nature of shipping registration of a vessel is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by prior arrangement with one of the registrars, there is no extra charge for this facility.

Make arrangements with the Ofcom in London for the issuance of a Radio Call Sign (visual sign letters) at the time of issuance of the Radio License and forward a copy of the notification letter.

Ofcom Contact Information:
Tel: 0207 6833131

There is a legal requirement for a local representative to be appointed for each vessel over 24 metres registered in the Isle of Man. A number of local companies and individuals currently offer this service. The fees that they charge depend upon the level of service requested by the ship owner/operator. Further details about Representative Persons and a list of companies that offer this service can be found here.

Registration Cost:

Panamax - $4,041.35

VLCC - $4,041.35

Bareboat Charter Registration

The Isle of Man Ship Registry offers Bareboat Charter Registration both in and out. Bareboat Charter Registration gives a shipowner a more flexible and attractive package - for example, mortgaging facilities might be more attractive in one state because of its stronger laws relating to recovery of liens, whereas the manning requirements might be attractive in another state. By using the Bareboat Charter Registry, a ship owner/representative can avail himself of both advantages instead of settling for a compromise.

Bareboat Charter Registration will only be possible between the Island and certain other states whose national law permit such arrangements. These states are referred to as "Compatible Registries." Dual documentation is prohibited rather than dual or parallel registration. Ships on a Bareboat Charter Registry would be subject to the safety, manning and anti-pollution requirements of the second flag state and would carry that state's certificates and documentation. It is generally a requirement that the right to fly a flag of the underlying register State be withdrawn and the effect is to suspend the registration during the period of demise charter except in so far as relates to Title transactions.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

Ships of virtually all types are accepted for registration and the Manx fleet includes bulk carriers, tankers, gas and chemical carriers, offshore support vessels, FPSOs, container ships, cargo ships and Ro-Ro ferries.
However, some ships are not accepted for registry. These are as follows:
• Ships which are not classed with one of the accepted Classification Societies
• Ships of under 500 GT unless they are operating locally in and around the Isle of Man
• Ships built before 1st September 1984
• Single hull oil tankers
• High Speed Craft operating outside the Irish Sea area
• Floating Dry Docks
• Harbour and estuarial craft operating outside Manx waters
• Pilgrim Ships
• Ships engaged in the carriage of irradiated nuclear fuel

More details of Merchant Ships that are acceptable can be found in Flag-in requirements on the registry’s website.

When a pre-registration survey is required a Senior Surveyor from the IOM Ship Registry will conduct the survey & inspection on the ships proposed for registry. Surveyors regularly travel to all major ports and generally an inspection can be arranged to suit a ship's schedule at any time provided the Ship Registry has enough notice.

The requirement for a pre-registration survey on vessels will depend on the age of the vessel and its Port State Control (PSC) inspection history. Generally vessels under ten years old will not require a pre-registration survey if their PSC inspection history is acceptable.

The requirement for a pre-registration survey on new builds will depend on the shipyard where the vessel is being built and whether the owner has ships already registered with the IOM Ship Registry. Generally new builds coming from shipyards which have delivered to IOM Flag requirements previously will not require a pre-registration survey.

Following initial ISM/ISPS Audits the Ship Registry will send a surveyor to visit the ship at 2½ yearly intervals timed to fit in with the ship's ISM/ISPS certification.

At these visits the attending surveyor will:
• Complete an ISM audit and issue any necessary SMC
• Complete an ISPS audit and issue any necessary ISSC
• Complete a general inspection
• Complete an inspection of crew accommodation, welfare and working conditions in accordance with ILO178 and issue a report

In the event that a ship is involved in a casualty the owner or manager is required to notify the Ship Registry immediately. The Ship Registry may decide to carry out an investigation. (See Casualties page on the registry website.)

The Isle of Man generally delegates all other surveys to 7 recognised classification societies under a formal survey agreement between the Isle of Man and each of the respective societies. Depending on the safety record of a particular vessel, owning company and other factors (such as the location of a vessel and the degree of urgency) the Isle of Man may delegate further in a particular case. Recognized classification societies include:
• American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
• Bureau Veritas (BV)
• Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Class NK)
• Lloyds Register (LR)
• Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)


Ratings may be of any nationality provided that they have completed the basic training as required under STCW 95.

Every Officer, unless holding a UK issued certificate of competency, must have an Isle of Man endorsement as required by Regulation I/10 of STCW95 to accompany the national Certificate of Competency. A list of accepted countries can be found on the registry’s website.

Endorsement requirements:
• 2 Page Application Form
• 2 colour passport sized photographs, 1 to be placed within box to front page of application form
• 2 clear signatures on a white background, 1 to be placed within box provided to front page of application form.
• Spare photograph and signature to be used on IOM Endorsement to be attached separately by paperclip.
• Copy of clear and legible valid Certificate of Competency/Endorsement restrictions/limitations as per Certificate
• Copy of clear and legible valid Medical Certificate
• Evidence of tanker endorsements (if appropriate)
• Copy of clear and legible valid GMDSS certificate (if appropriate)

On receipt of full endorsement application received directly from you the registry will then issue a CRA (Confirmation of Receipt of Application).

The registry can issue an urgent CRA against scanned endorsement application but there will be an additional administration charge of £23.00 in addition to endorsement fee of £160.00. We would require complete endorsement application to be received by post before we can proceed further. The £23.00 administration charge also fast tracks processing of endorsement application.

Endorsement applications can also be received via the Isle of Man.

Representative Person upon advised vessel name, who may or may not apply an additional charge.

Minimum Safe Manning
To ensure that all Isle of Man registered vessels are safely manned with properly trained and certified personnel a Minimum Safe Manning Document issued under the provisions of Chapter V/14.2 (Safety of Navigation) of SOLAS 1974 as amended, must be carried by all vessels to which Chapter I of SOLAS applies.

Familiarisation Training Approval
All Isle of Man registered merchant vessels should carry a Familiarisation Training Approval Document. This is required by Section A-VI/1 of the STCW Code. One document is issued to each company; a copy should be on board each vessel. To obtain one please forward the portions of the company Safety Management System relating to crew familiarisation training to

Seamans Discharge Book
Seafarers who are employed on Isle of Man registered vessels can apply for a seamans discharge book. A seamans discharge book is a seafarers record of service.

Applying for an Isle of Man Discharge book
To apply for a seamans discharge book complete form R001 and forward to our office.

Applicants can also email to request guidance on how to complete the form.
A list of supporting documents are listed below and must be attached with form R001
• 2 x passport sized photographs
• Photocopy of your passport
• Evidence that you are employed or have been offered employment on an Isle of Man registered vessel
• Any documents of qualification to be entered into your Discharge Book
• In the case of a continuation issue, your full Discharge Book.
• In the case of a replacement issue, a letter explaining the defacement or loss of your Discharge Book.


The Isle of Man Ship Registry is located in a triple AAA and OECD white listed jurisdiction where owners can record mortgages against their vessels securely.

Mortgages can be registered against vessels on Part 1 (Merchant Vessels, Commercial and Pleasure Yachts) and Part 3 (Local Fishing Vessels) of the register.

It is possible for there to be more than one mortgage registered against a ship at any given time. Mortgages rank in priority according to their time and date of registration. Priority is shown in the register by way of a letter. There are two types of mortgage that can be recorded:

Account Current

A mortgage to secure sums due on an account current is the most common form of mortgage. A specific sum of money is not mentioned on the Mortgage deed; instead the borrower (usually the mortgagor) has an ongoing account with the mortgagee. The sum owing at any given time will vary.

Principal Sum and Interest

In contrast to the account current, this form of mortgage specifies the amount borrowed (in any currency) and the installments in which it is to be repaid together with the rate of interest.

Mortgage of Intent

The Isle of Man offers the option to record a "mortgage of intent" which is valid for a period of up to 30 days and can be renewed if required. This is useful for securing priority for a mortgage on a vessel that has not yet registered.


Information on registration fees by vessel type can be found on the registry website.


Facilitation purposes
Department for Enterprise
Mr Brian Thomson
Isle of Man Ship Registry
St George's Court
Upper Church Street
Isle of Man
Isle of Man (United Kingdom)

+44 (0)1624 688500


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 Isle of Man (Member of the Red Ensign group)

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
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71 x
Space STP Protocol 73 x
IMSO Convention 76 x
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 d
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: Accession
d: Denunciation

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