ISLE OF MAN
It is this same attention to customer care that makes the Isle of Man (IoM) registry stand out. Captains I spoke to while conducting the research for this feature consistently praise the IoM for their technical expertise, their in-house survey and policy teams who are on hand for advice and consultation all the time. Captains praise the network of surveyors in key global locations, their pragmatic approach to regulation that is coupled with a focus on solutions. Other praise was given to the registry’s rapid, on-line process for STCW endorsements and other crew documentation. Of all the registries this is the only one that did not receive a single negative comment in my small circle of survey respondents.
Cameron Mitchell, the Director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry (IOMSR ), told Captain Richard Claymore his registry has invested heavily in systems and people using a database designed specifically for them. “It is,” he said, “Far ahead of other REG Category 1 members such as Cayman and the UK on our digital journey.” He added, “We now produce all yacht and seafarer certification in a digital format with electronic signatures. This means that certification can be with the yacht or seafarer within minutes. We are the only REG member which can offer this service to date. This makes the life of the Master much easier.”
Because the registry is a division of the IOM Government it is a not for profit division of Government and as such this allows them to set fees at rates which are highly competitive. Without doubt the IOMSR takes a quality over quantity approach. As a bespoke registry, it does not play the numbers game. Instead it provides what it believes to be the best customer service from any ship registry and in doing so attracts quality owners and operators and the PSC record and safety record confirms this.
Interestingly, the IOMSR is also in the process of designing and launching a crew welfare app, the first Ship Registry in the world to have designed and built an app specifically for the seafarers which serve on its yachts.
The app is designed to provide a holistic approach to the physical and mental health of and provide unique live streaming training opportunities alongside a host of other useful features.
Susana Phillips is a Corporate and Trust Services Manager with Döhle Corporation in the isle of Man. Originally from Madeira, Susana holds a Diploma in Ship Management – Operational Management, delivered by Lloyds Maritime Academy. A keen linguist who can communicate in six languages, she is well versed in the sale and purchase and day to day administration of superyachts working closely with owners’ project and legal teams and our captains and has developed a close working relationship with captains, maritime lawyers, project managers and ship registries. She says, “Here at Döhle Corporate and Trust Services we work closely with all major Flag States and with highly reputable Tax advisory firms in order to ensure superyacht owners have all the necessary information to make a very well-informed decision at outset and to secure a registration with the most suitable Flag.”
She adds, “When considering which Flag would suit their asset best, superyacht owners should take into account various operational aspects for example will their superyacht be operating under temporary admission in the EU; what is the general regulatory environment where their superyacht will be navigating; will their superyacht charter in the EU and/or worldwide; which Flag will be more cost effective and less onerous in terms of overall regulatory requirements and yet still be internationally respected, just to name a few important factors.”
Try as they might to keep a grip on the lucrative large yacht flagging industry, the REG is not the only show in town. Other jurisdictions have recognised the financial potential a fleet of superyachts flying their flag can bring. Some are good and some are bad. Trust me I know! For a short period in my otherwise gloriously untarnished career as a superyacht captain I was briefly in command of a yacht flying the flag of Belize. The shame of doing so came rushing to mind every time a glance aloft and saw the ensign flying from the gaff. But I have to say dealing with issues as they arose was wonderfully easy. I simply told the Registry what I wanted to do or receive, paid the fee and the job was done. Never in all my time did a 10 year survey proceed so effortlessly!
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a group of coral atolls and islands in the South Pacific. It became an independent and sovereign state in 1986 and in September 1991 was admitted to full membership in the United Nations. It has created a flag register that is run as a commercial-for¬profit organisation. It is operated from a head office in Virginia USA and has worldwide representation.
The registry is actively encouraging yachts to fly their flag and have even issued their own code of practice for large yachts. It has a good safety record and offers easy to use tax free corporations based on Delaware (USA) laws. It is a fast growing registry established using a team of aggressively profit motivated sales folk who target American owners luring them away from the red ensign. In July 2001 there were just 2 yachts over 24 metres flying the Marshall Island Flag. Eighteen months later there were 10 and in early 2020 there were a staggering 620 yachts flying the Marshall Island Flag.
The RMI allows, through its national legislation and its own Yacht Code, a ‘Pick n Mix’ style registration of private yachts, private yachts limited charter, commercial yachts, and passenger yachts. It also allows for RMI flagged private yachts to charter in French and Monégasque waters without the need for commercial registration by requesting a Temporary Certificate of Registry for Yacht Engaged in Trade.
Yacht owners can choose the home port of either Bikini or Jaluit. Two yachts may share a common name as long as they are registered in different home ports. Ownership of yachts registered in the RMI must be through an RMI corporation, limited or general partnership, limited liability company, or a qualified foreign maritime entity. With an office in Fort Lauderdale, and regional offices around the world, they are able to provide same-day service to the superyacht community, regardless of location and time zone.
Panama has been registering all types of ships, boats and yachts since 1917 and accounts for the largest tonnage of registered vessels in the world. With a fleet containing 81 million tons making up nearly 22% of the world’s total tonnage only a small percentage are superyachts. The majority of the 8,000 plus vessels are registered as fishing boats, cargo ships, and tankers.
Lucia Hurnikova is the Secrétaire Administrative at Consulat Général du Panama in Marseille. Hers is one of a network of global offices that includes 9 Regional Segumar Offices, 64 Private Merchant Marine Consulates all around the world and more than 200 flag inspectors. With 24/7 availability Lucia and her team at the Consulate offers an open ship registration to owners, regardless of their nationality.
The owner of a ship can be a natural or legal person, Panamanian or foreign, based in Panama or any other party. Owners benefit from low and competitive fees and any income derived from the operation of yachts engaged in international trade is exempt from tax.
Panama allows dual registration of both foreign vessels and Panamanian registered vessels with another country. This means a foreign ship under charter for a period of two years (renewable) can be registered under the Panamanian flag without losing its original registration; Panamanian ships also can have a special foreign registry without losing the Panamanian flag. Lucia says, “Dual flag registration is a great advantage to the shipping community that wants to retain the benefits of an open register and local register. This is considered an advantage for European ships which could otherwise be forced to register with many other European countries at a greater expense versus an open registry offered by Panama.”
With more than 700 islands, rocks and cays, The Bahamas is truly a maritime nation. Bahamian culture, heritage and history have long been associated with the sea. The country’s centuries-old trading traditions and its modern prosperity and affluence owe their success to seafaring and the sustained growth of maritime services. Today, The Bahamas is an international maritime centre whose centres of excellence in shipping law are based on English law. A comprehensive maritime cluster of island based financial services, insurance and ship brokering is enhanced by the absence of income tax and corporation tax. Popular with owners of new yachts the Bahama Marine Authority (BMA) actively discourages older vessels from joining the Register. The BMA has published its own Bahamas Yacht Code to cover the statutory requirements for commercial yachts under its flag. This is based on the REG Large Yacht Code and has been tailored to fit the requirements of owners seeking to flag outside Europe.
The Commonwealth of Dominica International Maritime Registry offers yacht owners, both commercial and private, cost effective yacht registration with no tonnage tax or size restrictions. Despite the lack of supportive evidence, the Dominica claims to be one of the largest private yacht registries in the world and so its website claims: “is fast becoming recognised as one of the top five.”
It offers registration to yachts through a network of Consulates dotted around the globe. One of these is in Athens Greece. There, Christos Vardikos, the consul for Dominica offers clients the ability to customise the length of registration periods to better convenience the customer and keep documents up to date. He says, “Registering a yacht under our flag is fast, simple, and cost-effective.”
In addition, the Registry provides a free self-inspection programme to help private yacht owners ensure that safety and security on their craft is they claim ‘Of paramount importance’. The Commonwealth of Dominica International Maritime Registry even offers a Yacht Masters License (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel for Twelve (12) Passengers or Less) through mariner and seafarer training program delivered by Northeast Maritime Institute – College of Maritime Science comprehensive maritime learning management system, Northeast Maritime Online – NEMO.