top of page


Marshall Islands

Shipowner Eligibility 

Seagoing vessels of any tonnage engaged in foreign trade are eligible for registration in the Marshall Islands, provided they are owned by a Marshall Islands citizen or national, including corporations, limited liability companies and general or limited partnerships. Corporations organized in other countries may also register a vessel if the owner registers as a "Foreign Maritime Entity." Vessels must be classed by a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and should not be over 20 years old at the time of registration, although exceptions may be granted for certain older ships.

About the Flag

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is situated nearly midway between Hawaii and the Philippines, and is the easternmost island group in Micronesia. The capital city is Majuro. The country consists of two parallel chains of atolls and islands in the central Pacific Ocean, known as the Ratak (Sunrise) chain and Ralik (Sunset) chain. Together, the Marshall Islands is comprised of approximately 1,225 islands and islets, which spread across an ocean area of 1.9 million square kilometers.

British Naval Captain John William Marshall gave his name to the area now known as the Marshall Islands in the 1700s. However, the islands have been under the control of various nations throughout the last few centuries including Spain from the late 1400s to the late 1800s, Germany from 1885 to World War I and Japan from 1914 to World War II. After World War II, the Marshall Islands became a part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under United States (US) administration.

The Government of the Marshall Islands was officially established in 1978 following the signing of the Constitution, which represents a blend of the US and British models of government. The islands gained their independence in 1986 after signing the Compact of Free Association with the US. The Marshall Islands became a full member of the United Nations in 1991, and has since established diplomatic relations with most of the world's major maritime and industrial nations.

Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms and the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. The Marshall Islands also has a small but growing tourist industry. The monetary unit is the US dollar.

The Marshall Islands Registry
The Marshallese have been a seafaring people for millennia and it is a natural extension of that maritime heritage that the Republic of the Marshall Islands would develop a modern, efficient maritime administration that is globally recognized for professionalism, contributions to the safety and security of shipping and efforts to protect the marine environment. In choosing an administrator for the Registry, the Marshall Islands turned to International Registries, Inc. (IRI), the world's oldest non-governmental flag State administrator, which now has over 60 years experience.

As an active member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Marshall Islands has ratified and implemented all key international conventions and instruments. It continually strives to promote the quality of vessels in its Registry, and those operating under the Marshall Islands flag achieve the highest ratings in the port State control (PSC) international rankings. In fact, the Marshall Islands Registry is the only major open registry to be included on the White Lists of both the Paris and Tokyo MoUs and to hold Qualship 21 status with the US Coast Guard for four consecutive years.

Through the Registry's decentralized organization with 20 full-service offices located in maritime and financial centers around the world, the Registry offers an around-the-clock duty officer system and real time support to vessels flying its flag. Under the Maritime Act, a ship may be registered and a mortgage, Bill of Sale or related instrument in proper form may be recorded at any of the Registry's worldwide offices.

Company Formation

First enacted in 1990, the Marshall Islands Associations Law is one of the most modern set of statutes in the world. The Marshall Islands Associations Law contains the Business Corporations Act (BCA), Revised Partnership Act, Limited Partnership (LP) Act and Limited Liability Company (LLC) Act.
The Marshall Islands Corporate Registry offers many unique advantages to the investor, shipowner and international business person. Under the Associations Law, a full range of services to form a company, including registrar and registered agent services, are available around the clock. Each of IRI's 20 worldwide offices has the ability to incorporate a company, issue corporate documentation, register a vessel or yacht, record a mortgage and service clientele. Due to its modern and responsive laws and customer service oriented philosophy, the Marshall Islands is the jurisdiction of choice for international shipping companies and business professionals.

The Marshall Islands offers Limited Liability Companies (LLC) in addition to the more traditional International Business Corporations (IBC), Partnerships and Limited Partnerships (LP). An entity formed under the laws of a jurisdiction outside of the Marshall Islands may be registered as a Foreign Maritime Entity (FME) for the purpose of registering a vessel under the Marshall Islands flag. FMEs must comply with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they are formed.


Pursuant to Section 12 of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act, there are no taxes on either the income or the assets of a Marshall Islands business entity or FME provided that they do not engage in business in the Marshall Islands. A MI Business Entity may carry on any lawful business, purpose or activity with the exception of granting policies of insurance or assuming insurance risks, trust services or banking. An annual maintenance fee is assessed on the anniversary of a business entity's existence.

Registration and Documentation

Vessels are generally first registered on a provisional basis by submission of the following documents to the attention of the Maritime Administrator at any regional office:
• Application for Registration
• Proof of ownership (Bill of Sale for existing vessels; Builder's Certificate or Master Carpenter's Certificate for newbuildings)
• Confirmation of Class Certificate and a Class Statement (includes seaworthiness) or a Certificate of Seaworthiness or Interim Certificate of Class for newbuildings (dated within 10 days of registration)
• Consent to transfer from existing registry (if applicable)
• Proof that vessel is free of recorded liens
• Proof of liability insurance provided by a member of the International Group of P&I Clubs
• Secretary's Certificate attaching corporate resolutions authorizing agent or officer to act or a notarized Power of Attorney
• Tank vessel vetting report (if applicable)
• Latest Intermediate or Special Survey Report (if applicable)
• Status Report of vessel's Statutory Survey (if applicable)
• Application for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate
• ISM Code Declarations of Company and Designated Person(s)
• Registration fees and tonnage tax
• ISPS Code declaration of Company Security Officer (Effective July 1, 2004)

Although originals of the above documents are required, faxes will be accepted if originals are delivered to the registering office or a representative closing agent within five (5) business days. When all of the above documentation is provided, a Provisional Certificate of Registry and Temporary Radio Authority will be issued. The provisional Certificate of Registry is valid for 12 months; the Radio Authority for 90 days.
Permanent Certificates of Registry without expiration are issued to owners with Provisional Certificates who have fulfilled the following requirements:
• Submitted copies of Certificate of Classification
• Submitted a Marshall Islands Certificate of Tonnage Measurement (National or 1969 Convention), accepted by the owner
• Submitted a Marshall Islands Load Lines, MARPOL, and SOLAS Certificates
• Benn provided a report of satisfactory completion of Marshall Islands safety inspection
• Obtained a Marshall Islands Ship Radio Station License
• Provided a Certificate of Cancellation of former registry (if applicable)
• Issued a Civil Liability Certificate for Oil Pollution Damage (if applicable)
• Issued a Civil Liability Certificate for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (if applicable)
• Submitted Copies of ISM and ISPS Code Certificates (if applicable)

Registration Cost:
Schedule A -
Panamax - $7,616.00 VLCC - $20,075.78
Schedule B -
Panamax - $13,837.00 VLCC - $26,627.80

Bareboat Charter Registration

Foreign vessels may be bareboat charter registered in the Marshall Islands for a period of two (2) years (with possible extensions) but only for the duration of the charterparty. Such vessels fly the Marshall Islands flag and are subject to Marshall Islands law regarding operations. The law of the foreign state still applies to the mortgage and associated recorded instruments.

Bareboat chartered vessels must meet all of the requirements for provisional registration other than ownership and cancellation from present country of registry. In addition, the following documents must be presented to the Maritime Administrator:
• Written application for bareboat charter registration
• Three copies of the charterer's letter of request stating the name and official number of the vessel; present country of registry; names and addresses of the Shipowner and vessel manager; and names and addresses of all holders of registered mortgages and hypothecations; dates contemplated for commencement and earliest lawful termination of the bareboat charterparty
• Charterparty, including all annexes and addenda, with English translation where required (any subsequent amendments or addenda to the charterparty must be submitted within 30 days of execution, with proof of due execution and English translation where required)
• Certificate of Ownership from the present country of registry that lists all recorded encumbrances
• Written consent of the Shipowner and mortgagee(s)
• Satisfactory evidence that present country of registry will withdraw the vessel's right to fly that flag while the vessel is under bareboat charter registration in the Marshall Islands
• Charterer's Oath of Undertaking that the vessel will not fly any flag other than the Marshall Islands flag; that the bareboat charterer will recognize that the Marshall Islands has exclusive jurisdiction over the vessel; that the bareboat charterer will notify the Marshall Islands Administrator when the charterparty has been terminated or if another country has accorded the vessel the right to fly its flag; that within 30 days of the termination of the charterparty or of the Marshall Islands Provisional Certificate of Registry, the charterer will return all certificates issued by the Marshall Islands; and that the bareboat charterer shall be liable to pay an administrative penalty for failure to comply with section 58 of the Maritime Act 1990

Although originals of the above documents are required, faxes will be accepted if the sender delivers the originals to a regional office or representative closing agent within five (5) business days.
Bareboat charter out is also permitted for vessels registered in the Marshall Islands to another registry for a period of up to two (2) years. During the period of the bareboat charter registration, Marshall Islands law applies to questions of ownership and mortgages, and the law of the country to which the vessel is bareboat charter registered applies to the vessel's operation.

The following original documents must be presented to the Maritime Administrator:
• Application for permission to bareboat charter register out of the Marshall Islands flag
• Written consent of preferred mortgagee(s)
• A certified copy of the Bareboat Charterparty, together with all amendments thereto
• Owner's Oath of Undertaking to advise of changes to conditions regarding the Charterparty
• Agreement between Owner and Charterer

Upon submission of the above documents, a Certificate of Permission for Foreign Bareboat Charter registration will be issued. All Certificates of Registry and Radio Station Licenses must be surrendered to the Maritime Administrator for the duration of the foreign bareboat charter registration.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

Seagoing vessels of any tonnage engaged in foreign trade are eligible for registration in the Marshall Islands. Vessels should be under 20 years of age at the time of registration. Waivers may be granted for older vessels depending upon their condition, classification and the successful results of a pre-registration inspection. Applications for vessels 15 years of age or older should be submitted with a Status Report of the vessel's Statutory Survey and Certification and a copy of its latest Intermediate or Special Survey Report.
An inspector employed by the Marshall Islands Registry will conduct a safety inspection of a vessel within 30 days of registration. A vessel must be classed with one of the following classification societies to be acceptable for registration:
• American Bureau of Shipping
• Bureau Veritas
• China Classification Society
• Det Norske VeritasKorean Register of Shipping
• Lloyd's Register of Shipping
• Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
• Registro Italiano Navale
• Russian Maritime Register of Shipping
• Indian Register of Shipping


There are no nationality restrictions for crew members. Basic crewing standards for the safe operation of the vessel are determined by the Office of the Maritime Administrator, based on the type and size of the vessel. Certificates of Competency are issued by the Maritime Administrator, and temporary waivers may be authorized in certain circumstances. All officers must hold Marshall Islands Licenses of Competence that, in most cases, are issued without further examination to holders of national licenses approved by the Marshall Islands. Licenses are issued from the Reston, Virginia, Hong Kong and Piraeus offices. A Certificate of Receipt of Application may be issued from any worldwide office. All seafarers must hold a Marshall Islands Seafarer's Identity and Record Book, which serves as a record of sea service and qualification.


There is no required form of ship mortgage, but each instrument must be duly acknowledged by an officer or authorized agent of the owner stating the officer/agent's authority to execute the instrument, and stating that the instrument was executed pursuant to that authority. All instruments must be in English, except mortgages in foreign languages for vessels being bareboat chartered into the Marshall Islands, recorded pursuant to the Marshall Islands Maritime Act. In those cases, only the cover page and execution pages must be translated.

All mortgages, amendments, addendums, supplements, assignments, coordination agreements, assumptions or subordination agreements must be reviewed prior to being recording. The final draft should be presented to the office, where it will be recorded, at least two (2) days before the desired recording date and must include the following:
• The name of the vessel
• The date of maturity of the mortgage, and if there is more than one date, the amount of indebtedness to which each date relates
• In the case of revolving credit, the maximum amount that may be outstanding at anyone time, and the sum total of advances which may be made during the life of the mortgage
• A statement that the mortgage is secured by the whole of the vessel
• A list of all non-vessel property used for security and any arrangements made for separate discharge
• The identity of all parties to the mortgage
• The status of the person executing the mortgage

On March 6, 2013, the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ Nitijela passed the Maritime Amendment Act (No. 1), 2013 – a legislative initiative of key significance to the international marine finance community. The first-of-its-kind legislation permits a “financing charter” to be treated as a preferred mortgage in favor of the registered owner of a Marshall Islands vessel, which allows a charter party to make precautionary security filings to protect and perfect its interest in a chartered vessel. This solves the long-standing issue in maritime finance where a charter party could lose its interest in a chartered vessel for lack of perfection if its charter were recharacterized as a security agreement.

The legislation amends the Marshall Islands Maritime Law to enable equipment lessors who provide lease financing of vessels the same security in collateral enjoyed by finance lessors of non-maritime property. A lessor under a financing charter filed pursuant to this amendment will enjoy the same priority as a mortgagee currently enjoys under a preferred mortgage. A title holder may now perfect its security interest in a leased vessel in a manner similar to how lessors of other property may perfect security interests under the Uniform Commercial Code, as well as 49 U.S.C. Sections 11301 (as to rolling stock and appurtenances) and 44107 (as to aircraft and appurtenances). The new law is also consistent with the provisions and rationale underlying the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Capetown, November, 2001) with respect to aircraft, railcars and space vehicles.

For purposes of the legislation, a “financing charter” is considered to be any “contract in the form of a demise or bareboat charter” covering a vessel which is “agreed by the parties to be or is determined in judicial or arbitral proceedings to create in favor of the documented owner a security interest in the vessel granted by the finance charterer.” The new legislation provides for filing requirements for a financing charter that are consistent with filing requirements for more traditional Marshall Islands preferred mortgages, including that the financing charter be signed and acknowledged by the parties and contain recitals on the amount secured, vessel particulars and full names and addresses of the parties. It is important to note that the agreement between owner and charterer, that a charter constitutes a “financing charter,” is not binding on third parties. In this way, the new provision allows parties the flexibility of precautionary filings where there is a risk of recharacterization by a court that a charter is, in fact, a security agreement.

(Information on the 2013 Maritime Amendment Act was originally published by US law firm, Vedder Price.)


For vessels coming into the registry, two (2) fee option schedules (A & B) are available. Schedule A fees are the standard fees payable for the registration of a vessel in the Marshall Islands provided the owner chooses to register the vessel based on this schedule. Schedule B fees are based on a sliding scale for various tonnage categories and also provides a fleet discount structure. Schedule B is not available for yacht registrations.

For IRI's Tonnage Tax Calculator visit:

For the most current fee schedule visit:


International Registries, Inc. (Corporate Headquarters)
11495 Commerce Park Drive
Reston, Virginia 20191-1506 USA
Tel: +1-703-620-4880
Fax: +1-703-476-8522

For a complete list of IRI offices world wide visit:

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

With an assigned permanent representative to the IMO, the Marshall Islands participates in all of the major committee and subcommittee meetings and is in the vanguard of registries providing the IMO with active support. Some of the conventions that have been ratified and observed include the following:
Status of Conventions Marshall Islands

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 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
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76 d
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76 d
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x= ratification

bottom of page