Ship Registration

Registration of Shipping Vessels Cargo, Fishing, Passenger & Pleasure Yachts

Vanuatu is a member of the United Nations and the British Commonwealth and also has privileged
economic and commercial relationships with the French African, Caribbean and Pacific Nations. Vessels
flying the Vanuatu Flag receive friendly reception around the globe.

We can assist with vessel registration, crew documentation and all matters relating
to safety and proper vessel inspection and documentation.

General information:

If sailing on Vanuatu waters only: vessels must be registered under the Shipping Act [CAP
53] which preamble is “To provide for the control and safety of Vanuatu vessels”. The local
shipping register is maintained by the Director of the Department of Ports & Marine in Port-
Vila, Vanuatu.

If sailing on international waters (whether for charters or pleasure): vessels must be
registered under The Maritime Act [CAP.131] which has its preamble “To provide for
the establishment of a shipping register for vessels of Vanuatu engaged in foreign trade
and for matters connected therewith” and must follow the Maritime Regulations; Vessels
are registered with the international shipping registry which is administered by Vanuatu
Maritime Services Limited (“VMSL”) in New-York.

Registration under The Maritime Act [CAP.131]

Applications for registration of vessels (Cargo, Fishing or Passenger Vessels including Pleasure Yacht)
under the flag of Vanuatu pursuant to the Maritime Act Cap.131, must be made to The Office of the Deputy
Commissioner of Maritime Affairs/VMSL.

Vessels registered under the Maritime Act and flying the Vanuatu flag must meet the
requirements of the International Maritime Conventions, i.e., International Convention for
the Safety of Life at Sea, International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships,
International Telecommunications Convention and Radio Regulations, International
Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers etc…

Registration under The Shipping Act [CAP.53] – Vanuatu Shipping Regulations Order
No.18 of 2004

Registration or licensing of vessels (other than a foreign registered vessel) operating within
Vanuatu’s economic zone (fishing vessel over 8 metres in length engaged in commercial
fishing not registered under foreign flag; vessel that carries passengers for hire; vessel over 8
metres in length engaged in commercial trade) must be registered pursuant to section 2 of the

Pleasure Yacht owners may also register their vessels under the Republic of Vanuatu
flag under authority of the Vanuatu Shipping Regulations Order No.18 of 2004
with the understanding that the vessel will be sailing within Vanuatu waters only.

We can assist with any Registrations which require submission of

  1. A complete application for Registration of the vessel;
  2. Notarised proof of vessel ownership;
  3. The vessel must be shown to be in seaworthy condition at the time of registration;
  4. A survey completed by a Vanuatu approved qualified independent marine surveyor that details the condition of hull, machinery, radio equipment and safety equipment on board the vessel and states that,
  5. The vessel shall not be more than 20 years of age from completion of first construction; in the opinion of the surveyor, the vessel is in sound and seaworthy condition;
  6. The vessel must be owned by a citizen or national of Vanuatu – For purpose of ownership a Vanuatu registered company meets this condition;
  7. If the vessel is a pleasure yacht, it must be over 50 net registered tons and a declaration be submitted that it will be used solely for pleasure. It will not carry paying passengers or cargo;
  8. Declaration of Pleasure Yacht Owner;
  9. Certified copy of any foreign marine document of registration of the vessel;
  10. Proof that the vessel is seaworthy eg. survey documents and inspection reports not greater than three months from date of receipt of application;
  11. Insurance, proof that the registered owner has and continues to hold public liability, pollution clean-up and wreck removal insurance coverage for amounts appropriate to the size of the vessel;
  12. Two 4 x 8 inch colour photographs of the vessel. One taken from the portside bow to stern and one taken from the starboard side stern towards the bow;
  13. Payment of the registration fees.

*Our fees are charged on a time disbursements basis. The time involved depends on the level of assistance and liaison required, and degree of inquiry from the approving agency. It is our standard practise to obtain a payment on account of the above total amount at the commencement of work which will be offset against the final invoice.

Vanuatu also has an International open registry for commercial vessels and a unique Historic Registry for vessels with historical or cultural significance.

To obtain additional information, please contact us by e-mail at


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