Carving & Marking Note

A perfect example of the vessel name and port of registry being clearly marked on the transom

Carving & Marking is an important stage of the yacht registration process and it is the purposes of this guide to provide further information on how to successfully complete these formalities.

The initial stages of the registration process will have seen the registry approving the name of the vessel and then subsequently receiving the yacht owner’s application to register their vessel supported by documents of title  proving their ownership of the vessel. The initial process will also have required a tonnage survey to have been performed by an authorised surveyor and for their report to have been lodged with the registry. Following the receipt of the initial application to register and after satisfactory evidence of ownership and tonnage survey report having been presented the registry will issue a document known as the Carving & Marking Note.

The Carving & Marking Note confirms that the registry accepts the owners application to register and confirms certain key information that in turn has to be applied to the vessel before the registration can be finalised. In particular the Carving & Marking Note confirms the vessel’s name and port of registry and the vessel’s unique registration number known as the ‘official number’ and, in certain cases, tonnage. The Carving & Marking Note will advise how the registry require the vessel’s name and port of registry to appear on the vessel and also advise how the official number and, if applicable, the tonnage must be  inscribed inside the vessel itself.

Stern Lettering Height

A perfect example of clear lettering with a measure held vertically alongside the lettering to confirm letter height

The various registries have differing Carving & Marking requirements. It is always advisable to check individual registry carving and marking requirements before ordering any letters or making any other arrangements to mark the vessel. We have for example seen expensive backlit, stainless steel vessel name lettering be disallowed for failing to meet registry requirements. If there is any doubt over the acceptability of design and appearance it is sometimes advisable to have a computer generated image or a mock-up of the signwriting made for prior registry approval.

Generally speaking most registries require pleasure yachts to have their name and port of registry to be marked on stern on a dark background in white or yellow letters, or on a light background in black letters, the letters being not less than a certain height and of proportional breadth. For pleasure yacht registration under 24 metres in length the United Kingdom MCA and the Bermudan registries allow the height of lettering to be no less than 5 centimetres whilst the majority of other registries allow the lettering to be no less than 10 centimetres in height.

The vessel name should appear above the port of registry and be clearly readable and not obscured by tenders or movable objects. A permanent part of the stern should also be chosen so that the name or port is not for example applied to stern doors or hatches that can be opened whilst underway and obscure or hide a vessel’s identity. Where a stern door for example is opened when at anchor or in port arrangements should ideally be made to mark the name and port of registry of the vessel inside the compartment so that the identity of the vessel can be determined. Although marking the inside of the rear compartment in such a way is not a requirement of the Carving & Marking stage it is a useful practical step to take in order to aid vessel identification. Certain registries will also require the name of commercially registered yachts to be marked on either side of each of the vessel’s bow(s) as part of Carving & Marking formalities.

Tonnage Plate

An example of a tonnage plate fixed perfectly in place just inside the vessel’s engine compartment

The official number and, if applicable, tonnage is usually to be marked on the main beam or, if there is no main beam, on a readily accessible visible permanent part of the structure of the pleasure vessel below the main deck.  

Whenever Oceanskies registers a vessel we arrange for a plastic strip, known as a tonnage plate, to be made which clearly displays the official number and, if applicable, tonnage. The plate is then despatched to the vessel by courier for installation inside the vessel (usually inside the engine compartment) onto a permanent part of its structure. The plate should be installed in such a way that it cannot be removed, for example epoxy can be used and/or screws with the screw heads filed down to prevent removal. Following the correct marking of the vessel, the Carving & Marking Note can, depending on the size and type of vessel, be completed by the owner, British consul, registrar, and certain survey or classification societies.

The sign off and return of the Carving & Marking Note to the shipping registry marks the completion of registration formalities which in turn enables the Certificate of British Registry to be issued.

Oceanskies are experts in the field of yacht registration. For further information concerning our yacht registration and documentation services please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Guernsey Office

Oceanskies Limited

Castle Emplacement

St. Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1AU

Channel Islands, Great Britain

Malta Office

Oceanskies (Malta) Limited

56, Ground Floor, Europa Centre

Saint Anne Street,

Floriana FRN 9011, Malta



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