The Carving & Marking of Yachts – A Guide

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.

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 Yacht Tenders
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!

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
Polish 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
Yacht Leasing In Malta

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
Marshall Islands – Yacht Engaged In Trade (YET) Dual Private & Commercial Charter Yacht Registration

Yacht Agents

Guernsey & Jersey: Channel Islands Yacht Export & Delivery


25 March 2020 at 07:58

Here is a batch of Tonnage Plates for yachts we are registering with @RedEnsignGroup under British flag here @oceanskiesltd HQ awaiting courier despatch. These plastic strips are an important part of the yacht registration process #yachtregistration #yachtregistry pic.twitter.com/5xGR7f0Xo3


17 March 2020 at 07:43

A beautiful start to the day again here @Oceanskies in St. Peter Port Guernsey were we are pleased to welcome the latest @sunseeker_int Sunseeker 50 Predator #Guernsey @guernseyharbours @locateguernsey @vistguernsey #PositiveVibes pic.twitter.com/rajLtbGriM


16 March 2020 at 13:42

On this sunny Monday we are pleased to welcome this beautiful @Sunseeker_Intl 76 Yacht to @gsyharbours which is undergoing @RedEnsignGroup registration with Oceanskies - Anyone would think its Summer! #yachtregistration #yachtlife #Guernsey @LocateGuernsey #PositiveVibes pic.twitter.com/gy0sguWV5S


11 March 2020 at 16:55

Today we have been Northern France visiting an incredibly busy @Lagooncats factory near La Roche sur Yon for the tonnage survey of a newbuild Lagoon 46 sailing catamaran undergoing @RedEnsignGroup registration by Oceanskies #lagooncatamaran #yachtregistration #tonnagesurvey pic.twitter.com/rwmKAuzOvX


10 March 2020 at 17:21

Today Duncan has been in a sunny and warm Monaco for the tonnage survey of an @PrincessYachts Princess 82 undergoing red ensign registration by Oceanskies - we are a leading yacht registration agency working with the world’s best yacht registries #yachtregistration #tonnagesurvepic.twitter.com/PUl9Sy4L9a9a


04 March 2020 at 06:53

Very pleased to act as agents for the visit to @gsyharbours of a @Sunseeker_Intl 76 Yacht @PrincessYachts Y78 #Sunseeker #SunseekerYachts #SunseekerFamily #Princess #princessaroundtheworld #Princessyachts #Guernsey @VisitGuernsey pic.twitter.com/Y3Tk7X8paE