As one the region’s most respected legal firms, clients from all over the world call upon us for guidance in shipping matters.
We can provide you with comprehensive and responsive legal advice on matters including provisional and original ship registration, transfer ship registration, inbound and outbound bareboat registration and ship mortgage registration.
Our team also acts as special counsel to leading international financial institutions and ship owning groups on the financing of shipping groups offering the shares of Bahamian flag vessels as security.
Areas of Focus
The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is a semi-autonomous statutory corporation formed in 1995 to establish an efficient and responsive administrative vehicle for registering vessels and enforcing safety requirements.
The BMA has offices worldwide in Nassau, London, New York, Hong Kong and Greece and an agency in Tokyo. The BMA has strong representation at both the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The BMA’s chief objective is to attract high quality tonnage while concurrently maintaining the highest international standards of safety and operation.
The Bahamas has one of the world’s finest, largest and most respected flags with over 63 million gross tonnage. The Bahamas Register, largely known for its impressive cruise ship registry, has a diverse range of vessel types, with tankers, bulk carriers and general cargo ships constituting the largest percentage of ships registered.
Ship registration may be undertaken in Nassau, London, New York, Hong Kong, Greece or Tokyo. Vessels of 1,600 net registered tonnage or more, engaged in foreign-going trade and not more than 12 years old at the date of registration, may be registered without regard to the nationality of the owner. It is not necessary that a Bahamian company be registered as the owner where the owner is not a Bahamian national. This qualifies The Bahamas Registry as an “open registry”. Vessels more than 12 years old may not be registered without a very detailed initial survey.
Twelve classification societies have been appointed to carry out statutory surveys on behalf of the Authority. They are as follows:
- American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
- Bureau Veritas (BV)
- China Classification Society (CCS)
- Croatian Register of Shipping (CRS)
- DNV GL AS1 (DNV-GL)
- Indian Register of Shipping (IRS)
- Korean Register of Shipping (KR)
- Lloyd’s Register (LR)
- Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Class NK – NKK)
- Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
- Polski Rejestr Statkow (Polish Register of Shipping – PRS)
- Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS)
In 2011, the BMA implemented a new yacht registry which provides a codified system for the registration and management of yachts in The Bahamas.
The BMA has a user-friendly procedure for registering and discharging ship mortgages. The ship mortgage is a short form statutory deed usually supplemented by a collateral deed of covenants (which does not require registration).
Foreign shipping groups that take ownership of a vessel through a Bahamian corporation will not pay any corporate income, dividend or capital gains taxes on the sale of the vessel, or shares of the holding company of the vessel, under the laws of The Bahamas.