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New Zealand

Shipowner Eligibility 

To qualify for New Zealand registry, a ship must be owned by any of:

• one or more New Zealand nationals
• three or more persons, the majority of whom are New Zealand nationals
• two or more owners in common, in which New Zealand nationals own more than half the shares in the ship

A New Zealand national is a citizen or a body incorporated under New Zealand law, including the country's government.

An individual may be registered as owner, or up to 64 persons may be registered each owning a number of shares individually. Owners of fractions of a share cannot be registered. Likewise, a body corporate may be registered in its corporate name, or up to 64 bodies corporate may be registered each owning a number of shares. In addition, any number of individuals or bodies corporate, not exceeding five, may be registered as joint owners of a share of shares. The agreement of all joint owners is required for any transfer or mortgage of the interests registered in their names, as they are considered as constituting one person only for registry purposes. For the purpose of establishing majority interest, more than 32 shares must be owned by New Zealanders.

About the Flag

New Zealand is made up of two major islands and several smaller ones and is located southeast of Australia. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the OECD, the UN, and the IMO. The majority of inhabitants are of European descent, but the indigenous Maori form a substantial percentage of the population. New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy with the Queen of England represented by a local Governor General as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. The capital is Wellington, and the largest city is Auckland. English and Maori are the official languages.

The chief industries are food processing, textiles, machinery, tourism and fish and forest products; the chief crops are grains and fruits. Cattle and sheep farming have been particularly successful. Major trading partners include Australia, Japan, and the United States. The monetary unit is the New Zealand dollar.

Registration is governed by the Ship Registration Act of 1992. The Maritime Transport Act 1994 covers among other things, manning and survey requirements. It also controversially opened up coastal trading to foreign flag vessels. The Register is comprised of two parts - A and B. Part A covers nationality requirements, evidence of title, registration of mortgages, and bareboat charter registration for commercial vessels, while Part B principally covers the requirements regarding pleasure craft. Further information about each type of registration can be found on the registry website

A Guide to Ship Registration - htts://

Registration type flow chart -

New Zealand registered ships fly either the New Zealand flag or the marine flag of New Zealand which is the New Zealand Red Ensign usually worn by merchant ships registered in the United Kingdom with the addition on the fly of the Southern Cross as represented by four five-pointed white stars.

Company Formation

Overseas companies may operate in New Zealand either by registration of the overseas company as a branch or by incorporation in New Zealand of a local subsidiary company. Companies incorporated in New Zealand must have at least one shareholder (who may be a corporate entity), one director (who does not need to be a New Zealand resident), and one share. There is no requirement to have a secretary. A company may, but is not required to have a constitution. Shares may be issued with a variety of rights attaching to them and must be issued for consideration which is fair and reasonable. The issue price does not have to be paid up at any particular time except on liquidation or earlier if called by the directors.
Where an overseas company wishes to register a branch in New Zealand, it is necessary to provide the Registrar of Companies with:

• A certified translated copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the company issued by the jurisdiction of incorporation
• A certified translated copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association or other charter documents of the company
• Particulars of the directors of the company
• The name and address of a person resident or incorporated in New Zealand who is prepared to accept service of legal process on behalf of the company
• Particulars of the principal place of business in New Zealand of the overseas company

Name approval for both companies incorporated in New Zealand and for branches of overseas companies must be obtained from the Registrar of Companies. Both types of companies must file an annual return and a copy of audited annual financial statements certified by a person qualified to be an auditor in New Zealand, which comply with the financial reporting standards established in the Financial Reporting Act 1993. Companies incorporated in New Zealand must also maintain a number of statutory registers such as a share register, a register of directors' and shareholders, a register of charges, and a register of directors' interests.


New Zealand residents, including companies and other legal entities, pay tax on their worldwide income. Non residents pay tax only on income derived from New Zealand. Currently, individuals with incomes up to NZ $38,000 are taxed at a rate of 19.5%; individuals with incomes in excess of NZ $38,000 and resident and non resident companies are taxed at a rate of 33%. Individuals with incomes over NZ$60,000 are taxed at 39%.There is no general capital gains tax, although the definition of "income" includes profits and gains from certain transactions, notably involving financial arrangements that would not otherwise be subject to tax because the profits are capital in nature.

Dividends, interest and royalties paid to non residents are subject to non resident withholding tax (NRWT). The rate of NRWT is 15% or 30% on dividends (depending on whether full imputation credits have been attached) and 15% on royalties. These rates are generally reduced where the recipient is resident in a country with which New Zealand has a double taxation agreement. The NRWT may or may not be a final tax, depending on the circumstances.

The New Zealand tax system includes a comprehensive international tax regime. If five or fewer New Zealand residents control a non resident company, or if a single New Zealand resident controls 40% of such a company and no non resident controls the same or a greater percentage, such persons must include their share of the income of the company in their income for New Zealand tax purposes, whether or not the company makes a distribution. In addition, a New Zealand resident that has invested in certain overseas investment vehicles, such as a unit trust, must include any increase in the value of the investment during the income year in assessable income.

New Zealand treats income derived from outward freight as subject to New Zealand tax. However, a concessionary provision deems a non resident carrier's taxable income from outward freight to be five percent of the gross receipts. In addition, non resident carriers are exempt from income tax on outward freight income if the carrier is resident in a country with which New Zealand has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) (Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Curaçao, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Norway, The Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) or a country with which New Zealand has entered into an exemption agreement (Brazil, Chile, Greece, Israel, Liberia, New Caledonia, Panama, Poland and Tonga, Barbados, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu). Where inward freight gives rise to income with a New Zealand source, that income will be subject to tax in New Zealand net allowable deductions.

Many of New Zealand's DTAs have specific articles dealings with profits from shipping operations and the alienation of property pertaining to shipping operations. Most of these articles provide that profits from operating ships in international traffic are only taxable in the operator's place of residence or the country in which the operator's center of effective management is located. "International traffic" is defined in the shipping context to mean any transport by ship, except where the ship is operated solely between places in New Zealand.

New Zealand has the ability to tax a non resident's shipping profits where the profits are not derived from operating the ship in international traffic, and, in certain DTAs, by virtue of a specific connection to New Zealand. Tests of connection include a) profits from shipping operations confined solely to places in New Zealand (Australia and Malaysia DTAs); b) profits from any transport by ships exclusively between places in New Zealand (Canada DTA); and c) profits from sources in New Zealand derived from shipping operations in international traffic up to 1.5% of gross revenue (Philippines DTA). Certain DTAs, notably those with the United Kingdom and the United States, make specific provision for profits from the rental of ships or from the use, maintenance, or rental of containers not to be taxable in New Zealand, to the extent that they are used in international traffic and the profits are incidental to the profits of the enterprise. This means that bareboat charter hire should only be taxable in the lessor's country of residence, provided the conditions are satisfied.

Registration and Documentation

Maritime New Zealand (“MNZ”) is the only organization appointed by the Government to maintain a New Zealand Register of Ships pursuant to the Ship Registration Act 1992. The Register is kept at the offices of Maritime New Zealand in Wellington and the Registrar of Ships is responsible for maintaining the Register.

All New Zealand owned ships longer than 24 meters must register pursuant to Part A of the Register by virtue of the Ship Registration Act of 1992, except those which i) are pleasure vessels, ii) sail only on inland waters, iii) are barges that do not trade beyond the coastal waters, or iv) are exempted by the Director of Maritime New Zealand in writing (generally New Zealand owned ships operated by foreign residents under bareboat charter registration in a foreign registry).

Registry forms are available from the MNZ website at and at the Registrar of Ships' offices in Wellington or at local offices at 10 other major ports around the country. A local port of registry may be nominated in the application for registration. To effect registration in Part A of the Register, the following forms and documents are required by the Registrar of Ships in Wellington:

• Application for registration of a ship (Form SR2)
• Builder's Certificate (Form SR23)
• Evidence of ownership (e.g. Bill of Sale from previous owner or, if not previously registered, evidence of title from the builder to the new owner)
• Proof that all prior registrations have been closed (Certificate of Deletion or certified copy of the closing entry of the prior registry)
• Any tonnage certificates issued overseas
• A new tonnage certificate from an approved surveyor
• Form SR1 appointing an authorized representative to accept service of process if the owner does not reside in New Zealand or have a registered office in the country
• Ship's Carving and Marking Note
• Declaration of Ownership and Nationality (Form SR4)

Where vessels are overseas, documentation may be provided in facsimile form in the first instance with originals to follow. However, no steps will be taken to register the vessel until at least the original application (Form SR2) and the relevant fee is received by the Registrar of Ships. No processing of documentation is carried out at the local offices; all applications are processed centrally in Wellington. If the builder’s certificate or full evidence of title cannot be produced, then the Registrar of Ships may accept a statutory declaration in the approved form (Form SR27) stating the reasons why the document is not available. This procedure is most frequently used where the original Builder's Certificate is missing or, sometimes, where evidence of title is lost. Declarations of ownership and nationality can only be made after the vessel has been acquired by the applicant(s), and must not be executed under a date earlier than the Builder's Certificate or Bill of Sale passing title. It is essential that names and street addresses be given in full; post office box numbers are not acceptable. Declarations made on behalf of a body corporate must be made by an officer of the corporation duly authorized for such purpose.

A body corporate may give authority to more than one officer to act, but only one of the individuals so authorized should subscribe to any particular declaration. In declarations by joint owners, any number not exceeding five may join in the same declaration. Declarations may be made in New Zealand before a Justice of the Peace, solicitor, notary public, Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court or any District Court, a Member of Parliament, or officer of the Crown or of a local authority authorised for such purpose of administering oaths. Declarations may be made in a Commonwealth country other than New Zealand before a judge, Commissioner of Oaths, notary public, Justice of the Peace, any person authorized by the law of that country to administer an oath there for the purpose of a judicial proceeding, a Commonwealth representative, or a solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Declarations may be made in a country other than a Commonwealth country before a Commonwealth representative, a judge, a notary public, or a solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Only declarations executed by the individual owner(s) or, in the case of a body corporate, an officer will be accepted; signatures authorized by powers of attorney are not permitted.

Upon submission of the above documents and the appropriate registration fees, the ship is entered in the Register Book and a Certificate of New Zealand Registry and (for vessels 24m length and over) an International Tonnage Certificate (1969) is issued to the owner. A radio call sign will also be allocated to the ship through a division of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Regional offices are located at Whangarei, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Picton, Nelson, Lyttelton, Dunedin and Bluff. When a ship is purchased overseas by persons qualified to own a registered New Zealand ship and time or other constraints are a factor, application may be made for the issuance of a Provisional Certificate of New Zealand Registry for the delivery voyage to New Zealand.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Foreign owned vessels, except pleasure vessels, on bareboat charter to a New Zealand national or nationals are entitled to be registered in Part A of the Register. The application for registration must be made by the vessel owner and the documents required are the same as for an application for a New Zealand owned ship with a few extra documentary requirements. A copy of the demise charterparty together with a declaration of the charterer (Form SR5) to the effect that a New Zealand national or nationals will be in a position to exercise the rights and powers of the charterer must also be submitted. The Registrar of Ships will only register a vessel under demise charter provided the vessel is removed from the foreign register for the duration of the charterparty. Evidence to that effect is required by the Registrar of Ships.

New Zealand registered vessels on bareboat charter to a foreign charterer may be registered in a foreign registry and fly a foreign flag provided that the Director of Maritime New Zealand is satisfied that the vessel is or will be registered under the law of a foreign country and is or will be entitled to fly the flag of that country. If so satisfied, the Director of Maritime New Zealand may on application exempt the owner during the term of the charter from the requirement to be registered in New Zealand.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

There is no age requirement for registration of a New Zealand vessel.

The New Zealand Registry recognizes surveys undertaken and certificates issued by:
American Bureau of Shipping

• Bureau Veritas
• CPG New Zealand Limited
• Lloyd's Register of Shipping
• Maritime Management Services Limited
• Plunkett & Falconer Limited
• SeaSpark Limited
• SGS NZ Limited
• Steve Mabbett Limited

In the case of registered ships over 500 GRT carrying on international trade, periodic surveys must be carried out annually in accordance with SOLAS and Load Line convention requirements (radio, safety equipment, safety construction, and load line certification). For smaller vessels, Maritime New Zealand has more specific requirements under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, and a number of additional competent surveyors are recognized for that purpose.

Complete guide to recognized surveyors


New Zealand vessels must generally be manned by holders of New Zealand Certificates of Competency. However, some Certificates of Competency are directly recognized for manning purposes issued from a restricted number of Commonwealth or ex-Commonwealth nations including Australia, Canada, Eire, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. There is also provision under the Maritime Transport Act for an application to be made to the Maritime Safety Authority for other certificates to be recognized in particular circumstances.


Under the Ship Registration Act 1992, a ship or any share in it may be given as security for a mortgage. The instrument of mortgage must be in the prescribed form (Form SR16 or SR17). The mortgage will be registered when it is received by the Registrar of Ships. The priority as between mortgages will depend upon their order of registration and not their order of creation regardless of any express, implied or constructive notice.

The terms of the mortgage may be altered by the parties executing a memorandum using Form SR19. The priority may be varied by the parties affected executing a memorandum of priority using Form SR18. The alterations and variations will take effect as from the date of registration of the prescribed form.

In the case of a foreign registered vessel, on any issue as to priorities, any duly registered charge or mortgage under the law of the foreign flag will be recognized as a registered mortgage in New Zealand and will be accorded the priority of a New Zealand registered mortgage in Court proceedings. There is no need for any formal registration of a foreign mortgage in New Zealand with the Registrar of Ships to benefit from this provision of the Ship Registration Act 1992.

Additional information regarding mortgages can be found on the Maritime New Zealand website.


Fees are quoted in New Zealand dollars inclusive of goods and services tax.

• For a current list of fees and charges go to:

• Maritime fee and levy estimate calculator:

Note: This is only an estimate, you will be receiving an invoice from Maritime New Zealand with the correct amount, in due course.


Maritime New Zealand staff are working to provide services for you under the current COVID Alert Levels.
New Zealand is now operating under the Covid Protection Framework. Maritime New Zealand offices are closed to visitors except by prior appointment.

Contact us

The best way of contacting Maritime New Zealand staff is by email

We are monitoring our email addresses and will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Please use the following email addresses:
for all seafarer enquiries
for vessel related safety and certification
for Part A and Part B registrations
for all exemptions
for all media enquiries
for privacy and official information requests
for all other general enquiries

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 Convent New Zealand

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 x
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
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
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72 x
London Convention Protocol 96 x
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
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

x= ratification

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