Shipowner Eligibility 

Vessels with Uruguayan flag can be owned, without any discrimination, by nationals and foreigners. The law requires only to be domiciled in the country, for individual owners, and incorporation and domicile in the country, for legal entities.

About the Flag

Uruguay is a small South American country located between the two giants of the continent, Argentina and Brazil - a position as a center of commercialization and distribution of goods and services in the region, whose process of economic integration, MERCOSUR, has had insurmountable results.
Uruguay is also the administrative headquarters of both MERCOSUR and ALADI (Latin American Association of Integration). The second one includes 11 countries in the region and Mexico. ALADI has reached 55 bilateral agreements for the liberalization of commerce that involve 75% of the interregional commerce.

Uruguay offers the best natural ports and those with more depth of water in the RÃio de la Plata, which is the natural outlet of the Hidrovi­a Paraguay-Parana¡. This is one of the larger basins in the world, with 3.450 km navigable from Puerto Caceres, Bolivia, to Nueva Palmira, Uruguay, and works as a way out and transportation for the production of the basin of El Plata (3.140.000 km2), where 75% of the internal gross proceeds and 80% of the population of Argentina are concentrated. It has been organized as an agreement of liberalization of fluvial transportation among Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The ships registered in the Contracting Parties of the Hidrovia Treaty can navigate freely and have free access to the ports and markets of that basin, which is the most economical way out for the production of the central area of South America towards the world market. Its cost is seven times lower than those of road and railroad transportation, and from its mouth out those products can be transshipped to deep-sea vessels, with great draught, at the Uruguayan ports, on the Rio de la Plata.

In order to serve the demand of services that its privileged location in the middle of the region implies, Uruguay enacted a new law of ports and a new law of register of ships.
The law of ports (Nº 14.246) has liberalized and privatized the stowage
services and customs warehouses, getting as a result a 40% reduction in the operative costs of the Montevideo port. The law of register of merchant ships (Nº 16.387) eliminates bureaucratic and tax hinders and facilitates the register of ships and the possibility of getting a register in Uruguay.

Company Formation

Incorporation proceedings are quite simple for a corporation; it is enough to register its bylaws in the Public Registry Office of Commerce. It is also relatively easy for foreign investors to purchase a limited company already incorporated in the country to be able to do business. Its costs are low, depending on the capital stock and activities required. To own a corporation in Uruguay the only requirements are the names of the directors and the new domicile; these proceedings may last two or three days, and afterwards the corporation is in working order to do business.


A law enacted in 2001 states that bareboat charter registration proceedings are not subject to taxation, eliminates guarantees required by former laws, admits the validity of the certificates issued by classification entities, and eliminates the requirement of the vessels to travel to Uruguayan ports to complete the procedure.

The vessels are considered imported once the definitive registration is obtained; the importation transaction is not subject to taxation of any kind.

Besides, the merchant vessels that obtain the Uruguayan registration on this way may profit of the regime of law Nº 14.650. It includes 50% cargo reserves on all the maritime and fluvial importation transactions that Uruguay may do, and other tax exemptions, like the following:

• Tax exemption for importation of spare parts, equipment, supplies, fuel and lubricants necessary for its operation.
• Tax exemption for alienation of property or file of bonds on them.
• Consular fees exemption.
• Exemption of the vessel’s government bond to settle the patrimony tax. This means that if the shipowner corporation deals only with that business, it will not be subject to that taxation.

Registration and Documentation

The flag may be obtained by owners, shipowners or bareboat charterer with purchase option.A temporary registration may be requested at a Uruguayan Consulate abroad. It lasts for 120 days, extensible on justified grounds.The new law annuls the obligation of the vessels with temporary register to travel to Uruguayan ports and the requirement of a guarantee deposit to obtain that temporary registration.The request for a definitive registration must be filed at the National Registry Office of Vessels in Uruguay.
That request must enclose the notarial documents or equivalent ones that prove:
1. That the petitioner is an individual with his domicile within the country or a legal entity whose bylaws have been approved and registered in the Public Registry Office of Commerce.
2. That the petitioner is the owner, shipowner or equivalent, of the vessel involved, and that he has the right of becoming the owner.

It must also enclose:
3. Documents that prove the cancellation of the former registry, issued in the country of the former registration, duly legalized and translated, except when the vessel has been purchased in a judicial sale.
4. A copy of the vessel’s plans, certificate of the original measurement and in force certificates of seaworthiness, issued by an internationally recognized classification corporation, and accepted by the competent Uruguayan authority.
5. Proof of hull insurance and equipment and civil liability certificate.

Bareboat Charter Registration

A law approved in January 2001 provides a system of provisional register in cases of ships under bareboat charter contracts and further on admits certificates of provisional discontinuance of flag from the country of origin in those cases.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

Information unavailable at this time.


The law requires 75% of the crew to be natural or legal Uruguayan citizens. If the former flag is from another Mercosur country, the percentage is reduced to 50% as far as the rest of the crew remains that of the original country. The Uruguayan Competent Authority determines the minimum-security crew. The minimum commercial operation crew is determined by an agreement between the shipowners and the workers' representatives. If such an agreement cannot be reached, the Uruguayan Maritime Authority decides the issue.


Uruguay has ratified the 1926 Brussels Convention for the unification of certain rules relating to mortgages and maritime privileges. The ship mortgages on national flag vessels must be registered at the Vessels National Registry Office. Mortgages in Uruguay must comply with certain proceedings and documentary requirements: public and notarial documents issued by a Uruguayan notary public.Mortgages issued abroad can also be registered, as far as they comply with certain requirements of legalization and registration by a Uruguayan notary public.


For more information, contact the registry.


Ministry of Transport and Public Works
Rincon 575
Ground Floor
Montevideo, Uruguay
Tel: +598 2 915 8333


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 Uruguay

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
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
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
London Convention Protocol 96 x
INTERVENTION Convention 69
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
LLMC Protocol 96
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
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x= ratification

Subscribe to Newsletter

Stay up-to date with the latest news and updates

Thanks for submitting!

Company Info


  • Facebook
  • Twitter