The Red Ensign Group have today (1st January, 2024) released the latest version of their Large Yacht Code (known as “REG Code”) providing the framework for the construction and operation of commercially operated yachts over 24 metres in Load Line length.
The Red Ensign Group is the collective working party for the shipping registries comprising the British Register of Ships. This includes the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and eight UK Overseas Territories (including the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands).
Any vessel registered in the UK, a Crown Dependency or UK Overseas Territory, is a “British ship” and is entitled to fly the Red Ensign flag. The Red Ensign is the most popular international flag flown by large yachts due to its high level of quality, prestige and universal acceptability. It is estimated that around 80% of the world’s large yacht fleet flies the British flag.
The REG Code prescribes standards of safety determined by the relevant International Conventions or by equivalent standards where it is not reasonable or practicable for yachts to comply. The REG Code is therefore an equivalence under the provisions of Article 8 of the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966, Regulation I-5 of the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, and Article 9 of the International Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 as amended.
The development of the REG Code was based on the consideration that full compliance with the provisions of applicable International Conventions are often unreasonable and in some instances disproportionately onerous compared to the incremental increase in safety levels achieved for yachts which operate under very different conditions when compared to a typical commercial ship.
The REG Code further develops the well-established industry standards of the current codes and assimilate the lessons learned from many years of regulating the large yacht sector since the first version of the Large Yacht Code was published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 1997.
Although the Code is being published today, it will not come into force until July 2024 to give the yachting industry time to familiarise themselves with its content.
A Red Ensign Group spokesperson said: “The REG Yacht Code is the international standard for the design, construction and operation of these vessels. We will never compromise on safety and crew welfare and maintain the highest maritime regulatory standards. However, we do recognise that it’s important to support innovation and technological developments in a rapidly changing industry.”
The new code represents the first significant revision since 2019 and has been developed over a period of two years in close consultation with the REG Yacht Code Industry Working Group, which consists of a wide-ranging number of stakeholders including shipyards, designers, management companies and regulatory authorities.
Substantive changes have been made to reflect the relevant regulatory amendments that have been published in recent years by the IMO and to accommodate current trends and innovation in yacht design.
Significant amendments to the existing text have also been made to provide additional clarification to those areas of the Code which have previously been open to interpretation with a view to ensuring its consistent application and setting a level playing field for industry.
The REG Code is divided into two parts (A & B) with a set of common annexes.
Part A is an updated version of the Large Yacht Code applicable to yachts which are 24 metres or over in load line length, in commercial use for sport or pleasure and don’t carry cargo or more than 12 passengers.
A copy of Part A of the code can be accessed through the following link:
Part B is an updated version of the Passenger Yacht Code applicable to pleasure yachts of any size, in private use or engaged in trade, which carry more than 12 but not more than 36 passengers and do not carry cargo.
A copy of Part B of the code can be accessed through the following link:
The annexes include sections for areas that are common to both Part A and Part B.
A copy of the annexes can be accessed through the following link:
It should be remembered that the coding of a yacht used for charter is only one stage of the process and that advice should always be taken in respect of local legal and fiscal obligations prior to the commencement of any commercial activity.
Oceanskies in conjunction with class and flag state is able to provide a complete charter yacht registration package combining commercial British flag yacht registration under red ensign with coding certification and the employment of crew through Oceanskies Crew Limited in a Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) environment.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.