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Shipowner Eligibility 

In accordance with section 20 the following persons are entitled to own Jamaican Ships:
• Citizens of Jamaica
• Persons who pursuant to the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act are deemed to belong to Jamaica (Commonwealth Citizens);
• Bodies corporate or partnerships established under and subject to the law of Jamaica, or having a place of business or a managing owner or agent in Jamaica;
• Business entities established under and subject to the laws of a state other than Jamaica, which pursuant to that law are entitled to own and operate a ship (“a Foreign Maritime Entity”). A Foreign Maritime Entity may include partnerships and limited partnerships established in a jurisdiction other than Jamaica;
• Such other persons as the Minister may specify by order, subject to affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives.

Bodies Corporate, Partnerships and other business entities established in a jurisdiction outside of Jamaica are required to have a managing owner or agent in Jamaica. Citizens of Jamaica (S20a) (persons deemed to belong to Jamaica pursuant to the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizen) Act(s20b)) and partnerships or bodies corporate having a place of business in Jamaica (s20c), are qualified to own a Jamaican Ship without requiring a managing owner or agent.

About the Flag

The island of Jamaica is situated in the Caribbean Sea to the southwest of Cuba and has a population of approximately 2.5 million. A former British colony, the country gained its independence in 1962 and is now an independent parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II who is represented in Jamaica by the Governor-General. The branches of government are: the Legislature, (consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives); the Executive, (Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister); and the Judiciary, which is independent of both the Legislature and the Executive.

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and the legal tender is the Jamaican Dollar (J$). The principal port is Kingston; however the Port of Registry is Montego Bay.

Registration of ships in Jamaica is governed by the Jamaica Shipping Act 1998 which established the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), the body that administers the Registry and is responsible for the development of shipping generally. The Act came into force in January 1999 and is closely modeled on current English legislation. Unless otherwise stated, references to sections in this chapter are references to sections in the Act.

Company Formation

While a foreign owner, irrespective of nationality or place of incorporation, may be entitled to register a vessel as a Jamaican ship, it may be convenient to incorporate a Jamaican company for this purpose. A qualified foreign owner irrespective of nationality or place of incorporation, may incorporate a Jamaican company for the purpose of registering a vessel as a Jamaican ship under the Companies Act 2004. Shelf companies may be acquired “off the shelf” or “ready made” from the offices of the major law firms in Jamaica. Alternatively, companies may be incorporated at the offices of the Registrar of Companies within 24 hours upon payment of a minimal expedition fee (see The information filed at the Registrar of Companies is available to the public.

Registering an Overseas Company [Please visit the website of the Office of the Registrar of Companies (]

Registration of an overseas company is a simple process facilitated under the Companies Act. The following documents are required for registration:
• A Certified Copy of the Memorandum, Articles or Instruments incorporating the company
• A list of Directors of the Company
• The names and addresses of one or more persons resident in Jamaica authorized to accept service and any notices to be served on the Company

An Overseas Company is required to file Accounts and Declaration of Assets in accordance with the Companies Act [Jamaica].
Registration of an Overseas Company attracts charges of J$7000

Non-Resident Status
A company that has been incorporated for the purpose of owning or operating ships may apply to the Minister of Transport for exemption from defined taxes. Generally however, all companies incorporated in Jamaica are deemed to be resident for tax purposes. As a result, there is no distinction in this regard between a resident and a non-resident company

Registered Office
A company's Memorandum of Association must specify that the registered office of the company be situated in Jamaica.

A company must have a minimum of two shareholders. The nationality or place of residence of shareholders is irrelevant.

A company may have one or more directors. Their nationality or place of residence is irrelevant.

It is not a requirement that a company secretary be appointed for companies incorporated in Jamaica.

Annual returns must be filed each year with the Registrar of Companies. It is required that appropriate accounts and Particulars of Directors be annexed to this report. The names and addresses of the members of the Company and the particulars of the Directors must be submitted with the returns.

Auditors are appointed at annual general meetings. Public Companies are required to file information relating to its accounts at the Registrar's office.

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.


The tax incentives apply to shipping entities, which own or operate exempted ships. The approval for exempted ship status is simple and based on an application being made to the Maritime Authority at the time of registration. Approval is given to ships which are engaged in foreign going trade, engaged in the carriage of goods or passengers and have paid the relevant fees for registration. Ships, that are 24 meters and below need not be engaged in the carriage of passengers or goods.

Special provisions for exemption exist for vessels under 24 meters such as workboats. The initial term of exemption is 10 years with automatic annual renewals.

Foreign seafarers working on board exempted ships are not required to pay tax on income derived from such employment. Under the Act, no tax shall be charged or payable on the capital gains or income of a shipping entity in respect of profits derived form the ownership or operation of an exempted Jamaican ship. Similarly, any dividend paid to the shareholders of such companies, or in the case of a partnership, drawings paid to the partners, are exempt from income tax. The Act also exempts shipping entities or persons from the payment of tax on loans or debt raised by a company, partnership or individual which was incurred for the express purpose of acquiring or operating a Jamaican ship. A Jamaican ship is also exempt from death or succession duties, transfer tax and duties on documents.

Non-Jamaican Seafarers working onboard Jamaican ships are not required to pay tax on the income derived from such employment.

Double Tax Treaties
Jamaica currently has double taxation agreements with the following states:
• Barbados
• Belize
• Canada
• Denmark
• Dominica
• Germany
• Grenada
• Israel
• Norway
• St. Lucia
• Sweden
• Switzerland
• Trinidad & Tobago
• United Kingdom
• United States of America
• China
• France
• Italy - A double tax treaty is being negotiated.

“Most Favored Nation” Port Agreements
Jamaica is party to and enjoys “most favored nation” status with a number of countries, most notably the Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Under these agreements Jamaican flag ships pay port fees that are 30% to 50% less than those charged “ordinary” ships.

Registration and Documentation

Provisional registration
A person shall not be registered as the owner of a Jamaican ship until they have made and signed a declaration of ownership. The declaration should be made on form JSR 002 and should contain the following:
• Full name and address of the owner
• Time and place where the vessel was first built, or if the ship was built outside Jamaica and the time and place is not known, a statement to that effect;
• The owner's citizenship or national status or in the case of a body corporate, the constituent documents and business thereof
• In the case of a ship previously registered outside Jamaica, the name under which it was previously registered;
• The name of the master and his citizenship
• The number of shares in the ship in respect of which the person is entitled to be registered (under section 24B (a) of the Act the property in the ship is deemed to be divided into sixty four shares)

The declaration should be accompanied by:
• an Application for Registration (Form JSR 01)
• Notice of Name of Ship (Form JSR 02)
• Notice of the Appointment of a Ship's Manager or Agent (Form JSR 04)

and supported by:
• Confirmation from one of the approved Classification Societies that the ship is in class as well as the validity and expiration dates of certificates. The confirmation should indicate exemptions and conditions pertaining to the certificates;
• Certified copy of International Tonnage Certificate (ITC) from the previous registry;
• Deletion Certificate from the previous registry or evidence of permission to transfer;
• Consent of Mortgagees to the ship's registration on the Jamaican Register;
• Builder's Certificate and/or Bill of Sale or Condemnation Order;
• Written Application for MMSI number and Radio Call Sign;
• Certificate of Company Incorporation and Certificate of Good Standing

Validity of the provisional registration and extension
Provisional registration is limited to six months to allow an owner to undertake necessary surveys and comply with the documentary formalities of full registration. There is no provision under the Act for provisional registration to be increased beyond six months. The provisional registration of a ship Jamaican, remains valid until the ship arrives in port in Jamaica, six months have expired since the date of issue of the provisional certificate or the conditions warranting provisional registration no longer exist.
Permanent registration

In addition to the documents required for provisional registration, the following will need to be submitted to the registrar:
• Deletion, Cancellation or De-registration certificate if not already provided
• Original Safety Certificates issued by or under the authority of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (where applicable)
• Certificate of Hull and Machinery.
• International Tonnage Certificate
• International Load Lines certificate
• Cargo Ship Safety Construction Certificate.
• Cargo Ship Safety Radio Telegraphy Certificate
• Cargo Safety Radio Telephony Certificate
• Cargo Safety Equipment certificate
• Certificate of Financial Responsibility (tankers)
• IOPP Certificate (where applicable)
• Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (where applicable)
• Safe Manning Certificate
• Crew documents and/applications
• Certificate of Survey
• Carving and Marking Note (Form JSR 05)

Deregistration procedure
A registered Jamaican Ship may be de-registered upon completion of an application to deregister the ship made under section 29 of the Act.

The registration of a Jamaican Ship may otherwise be cancelled:
• if the annual fees of the vessel remains unpaid for a stipulated period
• where the ship becomes a total loss or is otherwise destroyed such as by ship wreck, demolition, fire or sinking
• where the Director is satisfied that it would be detrimental to the interest of Jamaica or of international shipping for the ship to remain a Jamaican Registered Ship
• if the ship is no longer entitled to remain on the register

Bareboat Charter Registration

Section 18 of the Act permits a ship to be bareboat chartered into the Jamaican register. The registration shall remain in force for the period of the charter and the ship is entitled to the privileges of a registered Jamaican ship. The provisions of the Act relating to title and mortgages do not however apply to foreign ships, which are registered as Jamaican ships by virtue of a bareboat charter.

An application for Bareboat Charter Registration should be made on form JSR 06 and needs to be supported by the following:
• The written consent of the owners as registered on the underlying register:
• The written consent of the underlying registry for the Bareboat Charter of the ship out of the registry;
• The written consent of all registered mortgagees of the vessel;
• A declaration of the Bareboat Charter by the Charterer (in lieu of a declaration of ownership) - this should be made on form JSR 36;
• A certified copy of the bareboat charterparty;

A ship that is bareboat chartered in to the Jamaican Registry shall retain the name it is registered under on the Owners/underlying register, provided that name is not already the name of an existing Jamaican Ship. If a change of name is necessary, then the consent of owners, mortgagee and the underlying registry is also required.

The Act also permits under section 19, a Jamaican Ship to be bareboat chartered out to another registry, provided both owners and mortgagees consent and upon evidence of a bareboat charterparty. The entry on the Jamaican register will be suspended for the duration of the bareboat charter and, with the exception of the provisions relating to title, mortgages and other matters relating to proprietary interests in a Jamaican ship, the provisions of the Act will cease to apply.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

All vessels used for navigation in Jamaican waters, must be registered, licensed (an option for vessels under 24 meters) or exempt. Separate registers are required to be maintained for:

• Existing ships
• Ships under construction
• Provisionally registered ships
• Bareboat chartered ships
• Pleasure craft (S24A).
• Fishing Vessels

Vessels below 24 meters in length, wholly owned by persons qualified to own Jamaican Ships and operating in or from Jamaican waters, have the option of being licensed. Licensing is a simple form of registration. Pleasure craft of less than 5m in length not equipped with propulsion machinery or Pleasure Craft of less than 3m equipped with propulsion machinery of less than five horsepower, are exempt.

Approved Classification Societies

The Jamaican Registry recognizes the following classification societies:

• American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
• Bureau Veritas (BV)
• China Classification Society (CSS)
• Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
• Korean Register of Shipping (KRS)
• Lloyd's Register (LR)
• Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK)
• Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
• Russian Maritime Register (RS)
• Hellenic Register of Shipping

Radio Traffic Accounting Authorities

Jamaica recognizes all AAICs recognized by the ITU. Owners are required to establish accounts with an AAIC qualified organization for registration.

Age Limits

There are no specific age restrictions on the registration of Jamaican Ships. Incentives are provided for new buildings and vessels less than 10 years old. All vessels are however registered on their own merit. Vessels in excess of 12 years may be required to meet more stringent survey requirements prior to registration, depending on the type of vessel, condition and its maintenance history.

The Registrar may refuse to register a ship where having regard to the condition of the ship, so far as is relevant to safety or any risk of marine pollution, it would be detrimental to the interest of Jamaica to be registered (s28(2)).


Section 43 of the Act requires every ship to be surveyed prior to registration as a matter of course and re-measured for the purposes of ascertaining a ship's tonnage. Vessels over 12 years old may be subject to more stringent survey requirements. Jamaica is a party to the International Convention on the Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 and where it appears to the Registrar that the existing ITC has been issued in accordance with the Convention, the requirements for the ship to be re-measured may be waived.


Manning levels and certification requirements for masters and seamen employed on Jamaican ships are set out in The Shipping (Training Certification, Safe Manning, Hours of Work and Watchkeeping) Regulations 1998 which incorporate the STCW 1978 as amended in 1995. Jamaica has made the “white list of countries” with approved maritime administrations and is in the process of recognizing certificates of parties to STCW 95 in accordance with the regulations.

Certificates of Competency for Officers and Ratings

Jamaica is a party to the STCW 95 Convention. All Masters and Officers serving onboard Jamaican ships are required to hold a Jamaican Certificate of Competency or a Jamaican endorsed Certificate of Competency issued by an STCW 95 party state. Jamaica recognizes certificates issued by states approved by the IMO and included on the “White” list.

Nationality of Crew

There are no nationality restrictions on crews of Jamaican registered ships. Use of Jamaican Officers and Crew is however encouraged through incentives applied to registration and annual fees.

Document of Safe Manning

The STCW Convention requires all vessels to hold and carry on board at all times a Safe Manning Certificate. Owners manning proposals are considered and approved by MAJ on a case-by-case basis and details thereof should be submitted at the time of registration.


Registration of Mortgages and security interests

The registration of mortgages is dealt with in section 69 of the Act which provides that:
• A Jamaican ship may be made a security for a loan or other valuable consideration, provided that the instrument of the mortgage creating such security is completed in the prescribed form.
• Mortgages rank in priority according to the date and time they are presented and accepted for registration, and not according to the date of the mortgage instrument.
• Where a mortgage instrument prohibits the creation of further mortgages without consent, then an entry to this effect shall be entered into the register to protect the mortgagee.

The Act permits a mortgage to be registered as soon as the ship is provisionally registered and/or where the ship is still under construction. Mortgages so registered shall, for the purposes of determining priority under the Act, be treated as a registered ship mortgage.

The claims of holders of registered ship mortgages take priority over the maritime liens recognized in section 80 of the Act, except in respect of wages and other sums due to ship's crew and master's disbursements as set out in section 80 (1) (a).


For more information, contact


Maritime Authority of Jamaica
Head Office
2nd Floor, The Office Centre Building
12 Ocean Boulevard
Kingston, Jamaica W.I.

Tel: [876] 967-1060-5 / 967-1067
Fax: [876] 922-5766 (Registry)
Fax: [876] 922-5765 (General)

The Authority's Email:
Registry's Email:
Technical's Email:

Skype: JSR_Jamaica

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 Jamaica

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 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 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 x
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76 x
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

x: Accession/ratification
d: Denunciation

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