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IOM Enhances Ship Registry's Attractiveness

by Robert Lee,, London

20 August 2009

The Isle of Man Ship Registry has announced three important changes to its operating practices to enhance its registration process to make it more attractive and simpler for its clients.

First, the Registry has removed some of the "barriers" – some perceived and some "real" – for clients wishing to register. It will now be simpler, easier to arrange, and more cost effective to register a vessel. The changes include:

  • Pre-registry survey requirements – the Registry has retracted its policy wherein visits and inspections were mandatory prior to acceptance. The Registry will automatically accept vessels less than ten years of age, which satisfy the Registry’s vetting processes. This will include new builds, many of which are constructed in the Far East, in an effort to speed the registration process and reduce the initial costs for Isle of Man registration dramatically.
  • Accepted Ship Types – The Registry is to welcome previously excluded ship types such as passenger vessels. According to the Registry, this is a natural progression as super yachts become larger and move towards full SOLAS compliance for greater "guest numbers."
  • Age limits – the Registry has changed the limits to age on entry for ships. Previously set at 15 years, the limit will be extended to 20 years and even further for vessels which are technically managed from the Isle of Man.

Secondly, the Registry has also been able to extend the number of "Accepted Countries." In 2007, the Isle of Man introduced legislation to extend the number of countries accepted for ownership of Manx vessels. Previously, the Registry was constrained by legislation inherited from the UK to EU, EEA and British Dependent Territories. The list of accepted countries has now been extended to include Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. This will allow ownership structures of vessels using companies registered in those countries to remain unchanged when vessels transfer registration to the Isle of Man and thus provide a smoother transition.

Thirdly, the Registry has bolstered its affiliation with law firm Stephenson Harwood. In lieu of British consular services in London, Stephenson Harwood have acted on behalf of the Isle of Man in receiving title documents (e.g. Bill of Sale, registration of mortgages) on behalf of the Registrar of Ships. This service has now been extended to include Stephenson Harwood’s offices in Piraeus, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai, thus covering many of the world’s major shipping centers.

“The above changes have been brought about by the Ship Registry’s strive for continual improvement in its services to its clients. It will continue to challenge and improve the way in which it operates and more changes can be expected in the future. As always its focus will remain on customer service whilst the quality of the fleet remains of paramount importance,” the Registry said in a statement.

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