Seagoing vessels of more than 500 net tons, engaged in foreign trade are eligible for registration in Liberia. Measurement of vessels shall be in accordance with the International Convention on Measurement of Ships currently in force, as amended.
Vessels should be not more than 20 years of age at the time of registration, computed from completion of first construction, on January 1 of the year in which initial registration or re-registration is sought. However, vessels older than twenty (20) years may be granted a waiver for registration on application by owner if approved by the Marine Operations and Standards Department based on consideration of the vessel�s material condition, history of port state control, and industry inspection records and other criteria determined on case by case basis.
Current classification of a vessel in accordance to approved seaworthiness standards and documents requested by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Conventions for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships to which the Republic of Liberia is a party shall be accepted as evidence the vessel is in seaworthy condition.
All vessels are required to be classed by a Classification Society that is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). The following Classification Societies are currently approved for the issuance of International Convention Statutory Certificates on behalf of the Administration:
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
Bureau Veritas (BV)
China Classification Society (CS)
Croatian Register of Shipping (CRS)
DNV GL Group
Korean Register of Shipping (KRS)
Lloyd�s Register of Shipping (LR)
Maritime Register of Shipping (MRS)
Nippon Kaijai Kyokai (NKK)
Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
Additionally, the Liberian Registry has a worldwide network of Safety and Security auditors specially trained and able to offer Liberia�s unique Harmonized ISM and ISPS Code Certifications.
About the Flag
The Liberian Registry is the second largest in the world, with over 3200 ships of more than 100 million gross tons, which represents 10 percent of the world’s ocean-going fleet. As the world’s premier open ship registry, the Liberian Maritime Program is renowned for quality, efficiency, safety and service. Liberia is recognized at the top of every industry “white-list” including the International Maritime Organization and the major Port State Control authorities such as the US Coast Guard and the Paris and Tokyo MOU regimes. According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, Liberian flagged vessels carry more than one-third of the oil imported into the United States.
The Liberian Registry is administered by the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR, LLC), a U.S. owned and operated company that provides the day-to-day management for the Republic of Liberia's ship and corporate registry. LISCR is recognized globally for its professionalism and commitment to safe and secure shipping as well as its proficient administration of one of the most convenient, efficient, and tax effective offshore corporate registries in the world. The Liberian Registry, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia (outside Washington, D.C.) maintains offices in New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Leer, London, Piraeus, Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore and Monrovia.
The Registry provides its clients with 24-hour service making it the value-added partner for quality shipowners and shipmanagers in the demanding environment of the global shipping industry. In addition to its regional offices in the major maritime centers of the world, the Liberian Registry is also supported by a worldwide network of over 220 Nautical Inspectors and 120 qualified Security and Safety Auditors. This global infrastructure ensures that there is always someone available to provide assistance and service anywhere in the world.
Advantages of the Liberian Registry
• Shipping Industry Leader
• Quality reputation - White Listed in Every Port State Control Jurisdiction
• Recognized for Quality by Oil Majors, OCIMF, CDI and Rightship Inspection Regimes
• Global Service Network – Experienced, Responsive & Practical
• Staff of Shipping Experts, Not Bureaucrats
• Technical Innovations
History of Liberia's Maritime Program
Located in western Africa bordering the North Atlantic Ocean between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone, Liberia was established in 1847 by freed American slaves. The only African country to have escaped European colonization, it is a member of the OAU, the UN, the IMO and the ILO. English is the official language, and the capital is Monrovia. There is a dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector.
The Liberian Registry, established in 1948 by former U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, is recognized asone of the foremost open ship and corporate registries. During the past 61 years, the country's commitment to safe shipping has remained steadfast.
The Liberian Registry is a sovereign maritime jurisdiction responsible for the registration, regulatory enforcement, and safety of ocean-going ships. The Registry establishes identification details for ships and records legally enforceable documents, such as mortgages and bills of sale.
The Registry is also responsible for the enforcement of maritime treaties, including Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and the Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The Ship Registry runs in parallel with the Liberian Corporate Registry, which performs the same functions as the corporate registration service of any other government.
Since its inception, the Liberian Registry has been operated from the United States. This further strengthens the U.S.-Liberia alliance and provides the Registry the ability to participate in the international arena with key industry institutions such as the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Liberian Registry is strong and growing. Since the beginning of 2001, the Registry has expanded by nearly 50 million gross tons. The dedication and commitment of quality owners bringing in new acquisitions and new construction vessels ensures that this trend will continue.
Benefits of the Liberian Registry
Vessel Construction: The Liberian Registry does not require vessels to be constructed by a particular nation. Shipowners have the freedom to search and solicit shipbuilders solely on commercial considerations, such as competence, experience, and price.
Vessel Manning: Manning requirements specified by the Liberian Registry are based exclusively on competence, international recognition and safe operation. Many national registries require manning by citizens of the country of registry. This promotes higher wages, inflated labour costs and overheads, excessive bureaucracy, and the potential for interference from organized labour.
Harmonized Audits: The Liberian Registry is the first and so far the only major open registry to have trained a worldwide network of lead auditors in both the International Safety Management (ISM) and International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Codes.
Ship Financing: The mortgage-recording regime of the Liberian Register is internationally recognized and acceptable to banks from many jurisdictions, allowing the best opportunity to obtain the most favourable financing.
Ease of Registration: The pre-registration formalities are user friendly, designed to meet international standards in relation to safety and documentation but not to delay operations. Bareboat registration in and out is permitted and no restraints are placed on a ship wishing to transfer out of the register.
Asset Protection / Ownership Flexibility: Unlike many national registers, the Liberian Registry recognizes the need and actively protects the opportunities for asset protection. The Corporate Register of Liberia allows the use of and maintains the integrity of single purpose corporate vehicles. Likewise, the Corporate Register must continue to offer flexible corporate vehicles to ensure that specific ownership options are available to meet the needs of the multitude of shipowning structures.
Tax Sensible Jurisdiction: Vessels in the Liberian Registry are taxed annually with a fixed fee based on the net tonnage of the vessel. Similarly, Liberian Corporations have a fixed annual tax. Taxes on operations and profit are not assessed.
Double Taxation Treaties: Double taxation is avoided in nearly all major shipping business areas due to tax recognition treaties established between Liberia and most countries.
Acceptable Flag for EU Tonnage Tax Schemes: The Liberian Flag is an acceptable choice for many of the new Tonnage Tax Schemes currently being offered in the EU, including the UK, German and Dutch tax systems.
Depreciation Principles: Ocean shipping requires the use of capital-intensive investments. Due to the varying market conditions and demand for ocean transportation services, many shipowners have difficult years without profit. With recognition of alternative jurisdictions, Liberia offers depreciation alternatives not available with most national registers. This in turn allows flexibility with respect to Profit & Loss reporting.
Vessel Surveys: Liberia has authorized qualifying classification societies to conduct the full range of statutory surveys during attendance for routine classification surveys. Qualifying classification societies are not restricted to a particular national society. This provides cost savings, reduction of bureaucracy and operational/scheduling flexibility for shipowners.
Customer Service: The Liberian Registry is administered by a U.S. owned and operated company and managed by industry professionals who understand the business of shipping. Likewise, significant investments in technology are being made to ensure superior service and convenience. In addition to the Registry’s offices located in major shipping centers, there is also a network of over 220 nautical inspectors, who are available to attend vessels when needed.
Safe and Quality Reputation: Year in and year out, the independent statistics of underwriters, Port State Control Authorities, seafarer advocates and salvage institutions all recognize Liberia as having a quality reputation of standards.
Security: The post-9/11 world has brought new responsibilities for commercial shipping and maritime administrations. The Liberian Registry has been on the leading edge of the development and implementation of the IMO’s ISPS Code. Liberia believes in a practical and low-cost approach to ensuring security conscious shipping. A network of approximately 100 security inspectors attends vessels when needed.
Adoption and Enforcement of International Regulations: Participation in the UN bodies of the International Maritime Organization and the International Labour Organization is another important factor for respectable ship registries. Liberia is known for its international involvement in ensuring the development of practical new regulations when necessary. Likewise, Liberia ratifies important conventions, enacts domestic legislation in support of safety, pollution prevention and seafarers’ welfare and ensures equitable enforcement of these scriptures.
Liberian Shipowners’ Council (LSC): Liberia is one of the few open registries with an independent shipowners' council. The LSC provides member shipowners with a venue to monitor and address problems facing the industry and to share and exchange information and ideas. The LSC is also a member of the International Chamber of Shipping, and the International Shipping Federation (the only maritime employer association who can represent shipowners at the International Labour Organization). As such, Liberian Shipowners are able to benefit from the valuable services of this leading industry institution.
Pricing: The Liberian Registry offers professional service at a competitive price. Savings realized by use of technology are passed back to clients of the Registry.
The owner of a Liberian vessel must be a Liberian citizen or national. A Liberian corporation (US law), a limited partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a company (UK law) is considered to be a national. These nationality requirements may be waived by the Deputy Commissioner when the vessel meets all other requirements, when a genuine need is demonstrated, and the owner qualifies for, secures and maintains registration as a Foreign Maritime Entity (FME) � comparable with registering as a branch. This FME must have an indenture or instrument of trust or charter or Articles of Incorporation which allows ownership or operation of vessels. The FME is empowered to own and operate under the laws of Liberia and to conduct the business of ownership and operation of a Liberian flag vessel.
A ship owning entity should be registered in Liberia at least three (3) days prior to the date of an intended ship�s registration in order to prevent difficulties. Inquiries related to the formation of a Liberian ship owning entity or the registration of a Foreign Maritime Entity (�FME�) organized under the laws of a jurisdiction other than Liberia should be directed to the Corporate Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In general, a Liberian ship owning entity can be formed to the specific needs of the client usually on the same working day the Corporate Registry receives instructions. The client may:
Form a Custom-made Corporation to their specific instructions, generally on the same working day on which we receive the instructions. This service enables clients to have the name, share capital, number of directors and type of articles which exactly match the client's wishes and needs; or
Form a standard Corporation from a list of names that is made available and then choose the type of Articles of Incorporation, the type of Shares, and the number of Directors, by completing an order form. The corporate documents will be prepared and issued with the date on which the Corporate Department receives instructions for formation of the corporation; or
Purchase an Aged Corporation with an earlier incorporation date. The client would need to specify the earliest and latest dates that are acceptable and let the Corporate Department know the type of Articles of Incorporation, the type of Shares, (bearer and/or registered, no par/par value), and the number of Directors.
Registration of a Foreign Maritime Entity
The option of registering a non-Liberian entity (FME) is also available. The non-Liberian entity remains as the owner of the ship, but once the FME is registered, the application to register the ship under the Liberian Flag is made by the FME. The application for registration as an FME will be filed and will become effective within one (1) day from the date that the duly executed application form, together with the documents required in support of the application and the registration fee are received at the Corporate Department�s office in Vienna, Virginia, USA.
List of Requirements to register an FME:
One (1) legalized original Application Form;
One (1) full, officially certified copy of the document upon which the existence of the non-Liberian entity is based must be annexed to the Application Form;
One (1) original current and legalized Certificate of Goodstanding must be submitted; and
Payment of the FME Registration Fee.
There are no assessed corporate or individual taxes in Liberia applicable to nonresident corporations including ship owning companies, provided that not more than 25% of the shareholders are residents of Liberia and the company does not carry on operations in Liberia.
The Liberian Registry is open to any ship owner in the world. In order to enter the Liberian registry a vessel must be less than 20 years of age and must meet high safety standards. The owner can register a vessel in Liberia while under construction, or immediately upon delivery of the vessel by the builder, or transfer a vessel to Liberia while trading or under repair or in lay-up. Registration can be performed while at port, yard, anchorage or at sea.
An applicant is encouraged to visit the Flag Administration�s website for a full list of registration packages containing lists of specific registration requirements, guidelines and applicable forms.
Ship registration can usually be completed in one (1) day. Three (3) to four (4) business days are typically required to safely deliver original ship registration certificates to any location in the world. In general, the time required to register a ship under the Liberian Flag is dependant on the completion of the registration documents by the ship owner and their transmission to the Liberian Registry. As soon as a draft application for registration is e-mailed or faxed to the Liberian Registry�s Registration Department in New York (email@example.com), undated ship certificates can be pre-positioned with one of Liberia�s nautical inspectors in the port where flag change is scheduled to take place.
List of Requirements: Forms required in order to register a vessel in Liberia may be obtained from any office or from the Flag Administration�s website (Registration Packages)
Application for Registration (Form RLM-101A)
Evidence of Authority (i.e. Original Power of Attorney or Corporate Resolutions)
Proof of Ownership (i.e. Bill of Sale; Builder�s Certificate)
Class Documents: Confirmation of Class and Statement or Affidavit from Class Society
Survey Report: if vessel is fifteen (15) years of age or older
Proof Vessel is Free of Recorded Liens: if vessel is transferring from another flag
Consent to Transfer and/or Deletion Certificate: from the vessel�s current registry
Proof of Liability Insurance
Application for Minimum Safe Manning Certification
International Safety Management (ISM) Code Declaration Forms
Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR) Declaration
Application for Waiver of Ownership: if the owner of a vessel is registered as an FME
Application for Waiver of Age: if the vessel registered is over twenty (20) years of age but it has been accepted for registration under the Liberian Flag
Application for Waiver of Tonnage: if the vessel registered is less than 500 net tons but it has been accepted for registration under the Liberian Flag
BCLC Blue Card: required for all vessels over 1000 gross tons
CLC Blue Card: required for vessels carrying more than 2000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo
Application for Ship Radio Station License
Application for INMARSAT Equipment
Interim Ship Security Certificate (ISSC): a Ship Security Assessment and Ship Security Plan must be submitted to the Flag Administration�s Security Department located in Vienna, VA office preceding the Interim Security Verification
Oath of Owner
Payment of Fees
Registration and Documentation
Bareboat Charter Registration permits a ship to temporarily fly and operate under the supervision of the Liberian flag while the ownership and mortgage continues to be registered in a foreign jurisdiction. Bareboat Charter Registration is only available where the laws of both states involved explicitly recognize that the law of the State of the underlying registry is exclusively applicable to mortgages and related instruments recorded therein. In such a case, the ship is issued a Certificate of Registry which is valid for the period of the Bareboat Charter Party filed with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs or for two years, whichever is less. While the Certificate of Registry is valid for a term not exceeding two (2) years, it may be reissued upon application for successive periods of not more than two (2) years.
Foreign Bareboat Charter Registration:
Foreign Bareboat Charter Registration permits a ship to temporarily fly and operate under the supervision of the flag of a foreign jurisdiction while the ownership and mortgage continues to be registered in Liberia.
The ship is issued an endorsed Provisional Certificate of Registry which shows that it has been Bareboat Charter Registered in another jurisdiction under the conditions of the Bareboat Charter filed with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. Thus, the endorsed Provisional Certificate does not grant the vessel the right to fly or operate under the supervision of the Liberian Flag. While the Provisional Certificate of Registry is valid for a term not exceeding two (2) years, it may be reissued upon application for successive periods, each of not more than two (2) years. Moreover, a Certificate of Permission for Foreign Bareboat Charter Registration is also issued when all requirements have been met.
Bareboat Charter Registration
Vessel and Yacht Eligibility
A Liberian preferred ship mortgage may, among other rights, secure debts owed to a party (including a corporation) other than the vessel owner; contingent obligations; future advances and debts; a pledge or assignment of monies or rights, either presently owing or to become due in future, including but not limited to hire, insurance and freights; revolving credit facilities, including multiple advances and repayments; amounts denominated in one or more currencies, as well as options to fund mortgage payments in one or more alternate currencies; and currency losses arising from fluctuations between designated currencies where a unit of account is altered.
Recordation gives notice to creditors, purchasers, suppliers and other parties with an interest in such transactions, and furnishes an internationally enforceable structure for the protection of those legal rights recorded with respect to a vessel of the Republic of Liberia. Preferred status gives priority to the lender's mortgage lien over those of certain other claimants.
The Liberian Maritime Law does not require any particular nationality for manning Liberian flag vessels. Crew can be of different nationalities and this flexibility allows the ship owner to acquire qualified crew from anywhere in the world.
Basic manning standards for the safe operation of the vessel are determined by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, based on the type and size of the vessel. Certificates of Competency are issued by the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, and temporary waivers may be authorized by the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner in certain instances. All officers serving onboard Liberian ships must hold Liberian Licenses of Competence in accordance with STCW as amended. Licenses and Seaman's Identification and Record Books are issued from LISCR's Vienna, Virginia office. All seafarers must have a Liberian Seaman's Identification and Record Book, which serves as a record of sea service and qualification. An examination system is also available as part of Liberian Registry�s competency assessment for seafarers that do not possess national certifications from an IMO �White-listed� country.
The Liberian International Ship Corporate Registry's web page has a convenient calculator that provides information about the cost to register a ship in Liberia. It is accessible at:
Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry
22980 Indian Creek Drive
Dulles, VA 20166 USA
Tel: +1 (703) 790-3434
Fax: +1 (703) 790-5655
After Hours: +1 (703) 963-6216
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, please contact the LISCR Duty Officer at:
Phone: +1 (703) 963-6216
Emergency Email: DutyOfficer@liscr.com
If the Duty Officer is not available or does not return your call in 15 minutes:
Please call: +1 (757) 278-0001
Please visit the Liberian Registry�s website (www.liscr.com) for contact information for our offices in New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Leer, London, Piraeus, Tokyo, Zurich, and Monrovia.
IMO Convention 48 x INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
* IMO amendments 91 x INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
* IMO amendments 93 x CLC Convention 69 d
SOLAS Convention 74 x CLC Protocol 76 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x CLC Protocol 92 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x FUND Convention 71 d
Stockholm Agreement 96 FUND Protocol 76 x
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x FUND Protocol 92 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x FUND Protocol 2003
TONNAGE Convention 69 x NUCLEAR Convention 71 x
COLREG Convention 72 x PAL Convention 74 x
CSC Convention 72 x PAL Protocol 76 x
CSC amendments 93 PAL Protocol 90
SFV Protocol 93 x PAL Protocol 02
STCW Convention 78 x LLMC Convention 76 x
STCW-F Convention 95 LLMC Protocol 96 x
SAR Convention 79 x SUA Convention 88 x
STP Agreement 71 SUA Protocol 88 x
STP Protocol 73 SUA Convention 2005
IMSO Convention 76 x SUA Protocol 2005
INMARSAT OA 76 x SALVAGE Convention 89 x
INMARSAT amendments 94 OPRC Convention 90 x
INMARSAT amendments 98 x HNS Convention 96 x
IMSO amendments 2006 OPRC/HNS 2000 x
IMSO amendments 2008 BUNKERS CONVENTION 01 x
FACILITATION Convention 65 x ANTI FOULING 01 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x BALLASTWATER 2004 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x NAIROBI WRC 2007
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x HONG KONG CONVENTION
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x HNS PROT 2010
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x Cape Town Agreement 2012
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96