The British Virgin Islands | Benefits of BVI Ship Registration (Revised 2022)

BVI Ship Registration Overview

The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry continues to make strides in engaging the international community. In the past decade, the BVI has become a sturdy jurisdiction for international registrations. As a Category 1 Registry, many of the world’s shipowners, managers, brokers, financers, and other associated professionals have and continue to form professional relationships with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry.

The Registry meets international quality standards and takes pride in the support and service standards that it provides to clients. The Registry is ISO 9000:2015 certified and meets IMO Instruments Implementation Code (or, III Code) standards.

Jurisdiction of Choice

BVI is a jurisdiction of choice for ship registrations because it has the following:

  • Stable and reliable regulatory framework
  • Certified expertise in the shipping industry
  • Readily available corporate, legal, telecommunications, and courier services
  • Social and political stability with an independent, judicial legal system based on English common law
  • Courts organized with a provision for a final appeal to the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (UK)
  • Regulated banking, legal, financial, and computer services
  • Regulated offshore financial centre benefits
  • No sales tax, and exemption from many other taxes
  • An efficient registry that provides swift and expedient service
  • Modern state-of-the-art facilities, berths, accommodations, supplies, and maritime services

Benefits of BVI Ship Registration

The BVI flag has specific benefits for commercial, charter, and private vessels.

  • The Registry is a member of the Red Ensign Group, which ranks among the top 10 in the world’s registry groups.
  • Ships flying the BVI flag are entitled to British diplomatic and consular support and Royal Navy protection.
  • In addition to its complete survey and certification resources in-house, the BVI has a network of surveyors worldwide who can attend to any need.
  • Registered ownership is not restricted to BVI corporations and citizens. Citizens and companies of the UK, all British territories, the EU, CARICOM, OECS, and numerous others may register ships in the BVI.
  • The BVI registers all types of ships of unlimited size as long as they meet regulatory standards.
  • The BVI has low initial registration and annual maintenance fees at competitive rates.
  • The jurisdiction has three registration ports, allowing an owner to have the name they wish.
  • Mortgages registered in the BVI possess a clear position on priority.

Maritime Legal System

The BVI has a transparent legal system based on English law and extensive maritime legislation. BVI is a party to many international conventions introduced into its local laws, which govern every aspect of the maritime sector. The Virgin Islands Merchant Shipping Act is the overarching authority and regulates many essential maritime industries, including:

  • Ship registration
  • Masters and seamen
  • Ship mortgage registration
  • Safety at sea
  • Pollution
  • Shipowner liability
  • Wreck and salvage

The Act has many subsidiary regulations, codes, and marine notices and is continuously updated to protect ship owners, crew, financiers, and investors.

The BVI is considered the yachting mecca of the Caribbean, with clean waters, safe harbors, a robust maritime community, and exceptional weather. Its willingness to update laws to meet the evolving needs of the maritime community has made the BVI an attractive industry service provider.

We invite you to contact O’Neal Webster maritime lawyer Hermia Tench for more information or to help register your vessel(s) in the BVI. Contact Hermia at or +1 284-393-5800.

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