It is the purpose of this guide to explain the advantages of a full Part I United Kingdom (UK) yacht registration over registration under Part III of the UK register which is most commonly referred to as the Small Ships Register or ‘SSR’ for short.
The guide also introduces our popular fixed fee UK Part I registration package whereby we take care of the entire registration process on behalf of the yacht owner.
The UK Register of Ships is divided into the following four sections:
• Part I is the Register of British Ships;
• Part II is the Register of Fishing Vessels;
• Part III is the Small Ships Register (SSR); and
• Part IV is a register for Bareboat Charter Vessels.
It is Part I and Part III of the UK Register of Ships that are relevant in the context of yacht registration.
Part I of the UK Ship Register is the traditional Register of British Ships, which originated in the sixteenth century. We have prepared a full guide providing information on Part I of the UK register here on our website at the following link:
Part III is the Small Ships Register (SSR) which was originally set up under the 1983 Merchant Shipping Act in response to the demand for a cheap and simple means of registering a vessel to sail internationally. From 1983 to 1991 the SSR was managed by the RYA, from 1991 to 1996 by the DVLA at Swansea and since 1996 by the Registry of Shipping & Seamen in Cardiff.
Both Part I and Part III of the register have the effect of providing a British nationality to a subject vessel and both meet the requirements of the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 (UNCLOS) which state that all vessels sailing internationally must be registered and carry on board officially issued documents as evidence of their registration and therefore their nationality.
It is only Part I of the register that provides the ability for owners to register their legal ownership in their vessel and in turn prove to any third party that they own the vessel in question.
To prove ownership of a vessel the owner must meet stringent requirements by providing documentary evidence of previous ownership stretching back over the five years preceding the application to register unless the vessel has within the same time period been previously registered under Part I of the UK Ship Register.
It is also necessary to prove the vessel’s physical existence and particulars such as dimension, tonnage and engine details by submitting tonnage certification which for a vessel under 24 metres in loadline length means a Certificate of Survey issued by a suitably qualified tonnage measurer or for vessels over 24 metres in loadline length a Certificate of Survey and International Tonnage Certificate (ITC 69) must be issued by an approved classification society.
We have prepared a full guide providing information on the Tonnage Measurement Survey here on our website at the following link:
By requiring an owner to evidence ownership and by having an independent and responsible third-party attest to the existence and provide the particulars of the vessel a very secure register of title is provided by Part I of the UK Ship Register.
The value of proving the title and existence for a vessel should not be underestimated by any owner contemplating the purchase of a yacht.
We recommend that a decision to effect the Part I registration of a vessel is taken before any purchase contract is signed so that the sale and purchase agreement obliges the seller to provide the title history that is required by the registry as part of the closing documents.
For pre-owned yachts in particular, obtaining satisfactory title documentation may not always be straight forward.
Ensuring that the yacht purchase agreement makes provision for adequate title documentation and often assisting both the seller and buyer of a vessel in perfecting a title chain for a vessel is an important part of the Oceanskies yacht registration service.
The provision of a satisfactory chain of title documentation, although sometimes time consuming and difficult, does ultimately provide the buyer with peace of mind that the seller is in all probability the genuine legal owner of the vessel with the ability in turn to sell the vessel in question to the Buyer.
It follows that a well-documented vessel where the seller is able to provide a full chain of title documentation satisfactory for UK Part I registration purposes is of more value and of greater interest than a vessel lacking sufficient title documentation and therefore unable to be registered.
The performance of a tonnage survey on the vessel either as part of a pre-purchase survey and/or a stand-alone inspection provides opportunity for the physical characteristics of the vessel to be checked against the sale particulars.
Organising and carrying out tonnage surveys is therefore another import part of the Oceanskies yacht registration service.
Part I of the UK Ship Register enables a mortgage to be registered against a vessel due to it being a register of title.
There is no such facility under Part III of the register.
This is hugely important in a yachting context where an owner may wish to take marine financing on a vessel form a third party finance source such as a bank.
Where the lending of funds has to be secured against a vessel only Part I of the register will permit a mortgage to be registered as
When the time comes for an owner to sell their Part I registered vessel they have from a legal perspective a much more attractive vessel than one that is Part III registered for the following reasons:
i. The purchaser does not have to take any ‘leap of faith’ in attempting to work out whether the person selling the vessel is the genuine owner. This is because they can contact the UK Ship Register and obtain a document called a ‘Current Transcript of Registry’ which effectively is a ‘snap shot’ of the register and will confirm the identity of the registered owner at the time of its issue.
ii. As the vessel is already Part I registered there is no need to re-create the title chain as the seller would have had to put in place a satisfactory title chain in order to register their ownership in the vessel.
iii. The purchaser can also check if any encumbrances such as a bank mortgage are registered against the vessel by requesting the Current Registry document mentioned above as this document will not only confirm ownership details but the details of any registered mortgages.
iv. The fact that an owner has taken the trouble to register their vessel under Part I of the register generally reflects well on that owner in that they have opted for the best available registration possible.
v. A transfer of ownership on the register between seller and buyer can be effected very easily meaning that the vessel remains registered at all times and the seller does not need to delete the vessel buyer does not have to spend time trying to re-register the vessel.
Checking title on behalf of prospective purchasers and undertaking transfers of ownership and vessel under Part I of the UK Register of Ships are all services that Oceanskies provide on a fixed fee basis.
Part I of register provides wider eligibility criteria in terms of who or what may qualify to own a vessel in their name.
Under Part I of the register a yacht can be owned by both private individuals and limited liability companies or partnerships.
Part I also has relatively wide eligibility criteria in terms of the nationality and residence of the owner if a person and the place of incorporation / principal place of business of a limited liability company or partnership.
In summary the following owners can qualify for UK Part I registration:
- British citizens or non-United Kingdom nationals exercising their right of freedom of movement of workers or right of establishment under Article 48 or 52 of the EEC Treaty or Article 28 or 31 of the EEA Agreement;
- British Dependent Territories citizens;
- British Overseas citizens;
- Persons who under the British Nationality Order 1981 are British subjects;
- Persons who under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986 are British Nationals (Overseas);
- Bodies corporate incorporated in an EEA State;
- Bodies corporate incorporated in any relevant British Possession and having their principal place of business in the UK or any such possession; and
- European Economic Interest Groupings formed in pursuance in the UK.
Part III of the register is open only to private individuals, (i.e. a limited liability company or limited liability partnership cannot register under the SSR).
The private individuals must be ordinarily resident in the UK meaning that they usually must declare that they live in the UK for a period of, or periods, which collectively amount to 185 days or more in a twelve-month period.
Part I of the register accepts vessels of any size whereas Part III of the register is limited to yachts under 24 metres in length overall.
In conclusion we always recommend that owners should strongly consider Part I registration as opposed to Part III of the register.
We have developed a fixed fee UK Part I registration package for all yachts lying in EU waters under 24 metres in loadline length that includes a fast three month provisional registration, the perfection of title documents, the tonnage survey onboard the vessel, the issue of the Certificate of Survey, the provision of the full Certificate of British Registry valid for five years and a lifetime radio licence for the vessel allocating call sign and MMSI number.
The package also includes all standard and premium rush service UK MCA registry fees. For further information about this popular package please click on the following link:
We can on request also provide bespoke proposal for the UK Part I registration of yachts over 24 metres in length, stand-alone tonnage surveys, provide UK representative person facilities, perfect chains of title and obtain transcripts of registry and attend to transfers of ownership on the register.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.