Netherlands / Dutch ICP Yacht Registration – A Warning!


It is the purpose of this guide is to caution against the use of the Dutch International Certificate of Pleasure Craft (ICP) issued in The Netherlands by the Watersport Verbond.

The Watersport Verbond is the national governing body for the sports of sailing, surfing and kayaking in The Netherlands.

The Watersport Verbond contains an online portal where the ICP registration can be obtained. Minimal documentary evidence has to be presented in comparison to a traditional register of title and also no pre-registration or tonnage survey is required to verify the physical existence of the vessel.

There has in recent years been a surge of interest in the ICP as a result of third-party agents marketing the ICP certificate as a low-cost easy to obtain Dutch flag registration.

For the avoidance of doubt the ICP has no validity as a navigational document and does not allow the Dutch flag to be flown.

The limitations of the ICP were brought to light in the summer of 2018 with the case of the M/V “Lifeline”. The vessel was a migrant rescue vessel operating in the Mediterranean with a Dutch ICP registration. The vessel was denied permission to dock in Italy to unload a group of rescued persons. The Italian government stated that as a Dutch registered vessel the rescued persons were the responsibility of the vessel’s flag state. The owners of the vessel published a copy of the vessel’s Dutch ICP registration online and requested the assistance of the Dutch authorities. The response of the Dutch authorities was to issue the following statement concerning the vessel and another rescue vessel known as “Seefuchs”:

“The Seefuchs and Lifeline are not sailing under Dutch flag as per UNCLOS flag state responsibility. These ships are owned by German NGOs and not entered into the NL ships register. So NL is not able to give instructions to these ships. Italy is aware of the Dutch position.”

As a result of this situation all newly issued ICP certificates no longer state “Flag Dutch” but state “Flag non-applicable” and contain the following wording:

“This document can not be interpreted as giving Dutch nationality to the craft, nor does it constitute the right to fly the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as defined by Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Consequently the Kingdom of the Netherlands does not accept any of the responsibilities listed in article 94 of UNCLOS.”

The EU authorities are now actively controlling vessels operating in their waters under ICP registrations on the basis that they are effectively stateless and therefore operating in contravention of international maritime law.

We would counsel any yacht owner currently holding an ICP registration carefully consider their position.

We are able to provide alternative title registration options under EU and non-EU flags that are valid for international cruising purposes and confer the rights to fly the flag of the host state.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

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