Rules for the Charter of Yachts Under 24 Metres under the British Flag

The purpose of this guide is to provide information concerning the flag state rules applicable to British registered yachts of up to 24 metres in Load Line length that are operated for charter.

Any yacht undertaking a charter at sea regardless of its flag is considered to be a vessel that is in use for a commercial purpose and should therefore hold a valid Load Line Certificate and be operated in accordance with the international regulations applicable to a vessel of its physical characteristics and distance of operation from a safe haven.

As an alternative to Load Line certification and compliance with applicable international regulations which would be unachievable for many small vessels the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have developed a code or practice specifically for vessels of up to 24 metres Load Line length which are engaged at sea in the performance of activities of a commercial nature which includes yachts carrying not more than 12 passengers (i.e. excluding crew).

The UK MCA are an Executive Agency of the UK Government’s Department for Transport holding responsibility and accountability for UK merchant shipping regulations and their enforcement.

The code is known as the Small Commercial Vessel Code of Practice and is published as Marine Guidance Note (MGN) 280 with the full title of ‘Small Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure, Workboats and Pilot Boats – Alternative Construction Standards’.

A copy of the code can be accessed at the following link:

Small Commercial Vessel Code of Practice – MGN 280

The code has been adopted by all members of the Red Ensign Group (REG) which is the collective working party for the shipping registries that comprise the British Register of Ships which includes the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and eight UK Overseas Territories (including the British Virgin Islands and the 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. The Red Ensign is the most popular international flag flown by yachts due to its high level of quality, prestige and universal acceptability.

The assimilation of the Load Line convention and international regulations that would otherwise apply to a charter yacht under 24 metres in length carrying no more than 12 passengers in a ‘yacht friendly’ format through the Small Commercial Vessel Code of Practice is just one example of how the British Register of Ships has proactively set out to assist yacht owners with the safe operation of their vessels.

It should be noted that it is not only likely to be an offence to operate a yacht for charter under the red ensign at sea carrying not more than 12 passengers without meeting the requirements of the code but it is also likely that the yacht’s insurance could be invalidated as a result of a failure to operate in accordance with flag state rules.

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 our partner surveyors 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.

Relevant Guides

Cayman Islands Yacht Registration
Guernsey Yacht Registration
Isle of Man Yacht Registration
Jersey Yacht Registration
Malta Yacht Registration
United Kingdom (UK) Yacht Registration
Polish Yacht Registration
Swiss Yacht Registration

Who to Contact


Oceanskies on Twitter


04 July 2020 at 13:56

Earlier this week we were pleased to act as agents for the visit of this @BenettiYachts Benetti 120 Classic motor yacht to @gsyharbours #Oceanskies #benettiyachts #itsabenetti #Guernsey @VisitGuernsey #ThatIslandFeeling #superyacht #yacht #BelowDeck pic.twitter.com/130L7MfCQD


03 July 2020 at 09:36

We were pleased to welcome the latest @princessyachts Princess V40 to the fuel berth outside our offices in St Peter Port Guernsey this morning for customs clearance and fuelling #PrincessYachts #princessaroundtheworld #Guernsey @visitguernsey @guernseyharbours #ThatIslandFeeling pic.twitter.com/aEWGyCi3jT


02 July 2020 at 07:38

On the day that Malta welcomes its first commercial flights in three and a half months as it reopens its borders to 21 countries our Malta office were very pleased to act as local agents for the visit of this stunning by @arcadiayachts A105 to @GrandHMarina #Malta #VisitMalta pic.twitter.com/eH09PjF9XA


25 June 2020 at 20:26

Very pleased to welcome as local agents the latest @PrincessYachts Princess 30M yacht to the fuel berth outside our offices here in Guernsey for registration, fuel and customs clearance #yachtregistration #yachtagents #crewpayroll #Guernsey @VisitGuernsey @gsyharbours pic.twitter.com/Mh1PcE3goJ


11 June 2020 at 07:03

Very pleased to handle the 2nd visit of EMINENCE by @abekingworld to @gsyharbours on provisioning stop with duty free fuel by @Rubis_CI - pls ctc us for agency services for any yacht interested in visiting the Channel Islands @VisitGuernsey @LocateGuernsey #Guernsey #superyacht pic.twitter.com/o7sljee3tu


06 June 2020 at 16:49

BREAKING NEWS - MALTA RE-OPENS FOR VISITING YACHTS! Oceanskies Malta are delighted to announce with immediate effect that we are able to resume our Malta port agency services for yachts arriving from outside Malta on a limited basis #Malta#VisitMalta #MaltaFlagpic.twitter.com/CzSF0FTRmAA