Port State Control & Choice of Yacht Registration

It is the purpose of this guide to introduce Port State Control as an effective method for any yacht owner to make an informed decision on the quality of a prospective flag state for their yacht based on practical rather than anecdotal evidence

Port State Control is an inspection regime for countries to inspect foreign registered vessels in port and take action against vessels that are deemed to be unseaworthy and/or outside of compliance with the requirements of applicable international conventions.

Inspections by Port State Control Officers involve checking the condition of a vessel and its equipment and checking that the vessel is manned and operated in compliance with applicable international law.

Globally Port State Control is defined by ten regional port state control regimes, namely; Europe and the north Atlantic (Paris MoU); Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MoU); West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU); the Black Sea region (Black Sea MoU); the Mediterranean (Mediterranean MoU); the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MoU); the Riyadh MoU and in the United States there is a regime controlled by the United States Coast Guard.

The various Port State Control regimes publish annual reports containing various statistical information including a categorisation of the quality of flag states based on their inspections.  This effectively produces various league table categorising the world’s registries in order of quality.

The Paris MoU is probably the most recognised Port State Control regime which provides an annual ranking of the world’s registries known as the “White, Grey and Blacklist”.

The list is based on the total number of inspections and detentions of vessels over the preceding 3-year rolling period for flags with at least 30 inspections in the period.

Although Port State Control in a yachting context applies to commercial yachts holding load line certification rather than private yachts the system does nonetheless provide the yacht owner of the quality of a potential flag that they might be registering to.

There are a bewildering number of registries directly and third-party service providers indirectly promoting the advantages of various yacht registration jurisdictions as the best place for an owner to register their yacht. With the registries and their promoters all claiming to be the best registration for your yachts the Port State Control tables provide a useful guide to the good, the bad and the downright ugly registration jurisdictions.

The Current Paris MoU is in force from today until the 30th June, 2021. Port State Control authorities will use the list for determining which flags will require a greater number of inspections.

The most recent list effective from 1st July, 2020 valid until the 30th June, 2020 ranks the UK Ship Register as the best performing flag state. 

To place the Paris MoU in a yachting context we have listed the more commonly encountered yacht registries in order of appearance in the table listing their rank overall and highlighted whether they appear on the White, Grey of Blacklist as follows:

WHITE LIST (i.e. low risk quality flags):

1. UK 

6. Marshall Islands

12. Cayman Islands

16. Isle of Man

17. Malta

Grey List (i.e. medium risk intermediate flag states):

44. Poland

Blacklist (i.e. poorly performing flag states that are considered high or very high risk):

59. Cook Islands

60. Saint Kitts & Nevis

63. Belize

Oceanskies specialises in the registration of yachts in all of the main yacht registry jurisdictions Please use the following link to access our online flag selector tool to help determine the best flag for your yacht (note that no ‘Blacklist’ flags will be recommended!):

Flag Finder



Yacht Registration

Yacht Registration - An Introduction
The British Register of Ships & The Red Ensign Group
The UK Ship Register (Part I) v. UK Small Ships Register SSR (Part III)
Registration of Tenders & Chase Boats
The Yacht Radio Licence - A Guide To Licensing, Call Signs, MMSI Numbers & More
The Carving & Marking of Yachts - A Guide
Delaware Yacht & Vessel Registration - A Warning!
Netherlands / Dutch ICP Yacht Registration - A Warning!
UK Yacht Registration for Swiss Yacht Owners
Port State Control & Choice of Yacht Registration

Yacht Registries

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

Yacht Operation

EU VAT & Yachts Frequently Asked Questions
Temporary Admission (Temporary Importation) for Yachts in Europe
The Charter of Yachts in the European Union
Cruising Licences for Yachts in the United States
Brexit & Yachts - Frequently Asked Questions
UK (OFCOM) Ship Radio Licences for Foreign Registered Yachts A Warning!
UK Yacht Owning Companies A Note of Caution!

Yacht Survey & Certification

The Tonnage Measurement Survey
Rules for the operation of Private Pleasure Yachts under the British Flag
Rules for the Charter of Yachts Under 24 Metres under the British Flag
Rules for the Charter of Yachts Over 24 Metres under the British Flag
The Intended Pleasure Vessel Code (IPV Code)
Rules for the Charter of Yachts under the Malta Flag
CE Marking & The Recreational Craft Directive

Yacht Agents

Guernsey & Jersey - Channel Islands Yacht Export & Delivery
Guernsey Berthing Guide
Malta - European Yacht Importation by Oceanskies

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