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Ship Registration


Ship registration is the process by which a ship is certified and the nationality of the country in which the ship is certified. Since the nationality of a vessel is proof of ownership, this registration means the vessel’s permission to travel in international waters.

International law requires every ship to be registered in a country called the flag state. A ship sails under the flag of the country of registration and is subject to the laws of its flag state.

A ship’s flag state plays a regulatory role on the ship and inspects the ship regularly. It enables the publication of documents regarding the ship’s equipment, crew, safety and pollution prevention.

How to Register a Ship

The organization which actually registers the ship is known as its registry. It can be official or private institutions. In some cases, such as the United States’ Alternative Compliance Program, the registrar may appoint a third party to manage the audits.

A register open only to ships of its own nation is known as the traditional or national register. Registers open to foreign-owned ships are known as open registers and are sometimes referred to as flags of conformity.

Non-flag vessels, illegally operated vessels such as pirates or narco-submarines are normally not registered by operators. A registered ship is not easy to seize or use secretly for illegal purposes.

International Register of Shipping

The International Register of Shipping, or IS, was founded in 1993 and is an independent classification agency that provides classification, certification, verification and consulting services.

International Register of Shipping’s technical head office is located in Miami, Florida, and its administrative office is in Panama City, Panama. It serves the maritime, technical and engineering sectors in terms of ensuring the safety and sustainability of their business. Provides technical assistance, quality assurance, approval services, classification, and professional support for offshore and offshore risk management worldwide.

The International Maritime Trade Registry offers the following services for the shipping and offshore industry.

Available Services


  • Appraisal of the design during and after construction
  • Surveys at the time of construction, entry into class and modifications to ensure that the vessel meets the criteria stipulated by the rules
  • Issuance of a ‘Certificate of Classification’ and entering of the vessel’s particulars into the society’s Register of Ships
  • Periodical surveys as stipulated by the rules to ensure continued maintenance of conditions of classifications
  • Additional surveys as deemed necessary in view of damages or reported poor condition of the vessel by port state control authorities


  • Appraisal of plans and documents
  • Stage Inspections during manufacture
  • Inspection and testing of components or finished products
  • Laboratory testing at approved facilities
  • Auditing of the management systems

Statutory Certification

  • International Convention on Load line (Load Line)
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG)
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
  • International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships (ITC 1969)
  • Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code)
  • International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention(ISM Code)
  • International Ship and Port facility Security Code (ISPS Code)
  • International Grain Code (Grain Code)
  • Caribbean Cargo Ship Safety Code (Caribbean Code)
  • Crew Accommodations, ILO Convention 92,153
  • Cargo Gear, ILO Convention 152
  • Minimum Standards in Merchant Ships, ILO Convention 147
  • Bulk Chemical Code (BCH Code)
  • International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code)
  • Gas Carrier Code (GC Code)
  • International Gas Carrier Code (IGC Code)
  • High Speed Craft Code (HSC Code)
  • Code of Safety for Dynamically Supported Craft

Maritime Consulting

  • Preparation of Mandatory Vessel documentations
  • Booklet, Cargo Securing Manual, SOPEP, PCSOPEP, SMPEP, P&A Manual, COW manual, ODMCS Manual
  • New building Services on behalf of owners
  • Concept Design Preparation of Technical Specifications
  • Bid Analysis
  • Detailed design
  • Specification survey during new construction on behalf of owners
  • Verification of conformance for purchase of marine equipment
  • Design of modifications and renovations and/or refitting
  • Failure Mode Effect Analysis, HAZOP, FSA
  • Pre-purchase or on hire/off-hire condition surveys
  • Port Engineering – including supervision during dry dockings or other repairs
  • Computer based preventive maintenance systems
  • Administered through International Register Training Institute (IRTI)
  • Complies with ISO 9001:2000 requirements