The British Virgin Islands Shipping Registry

The British Virgin Islands (the BVI) is renowned as a top sailing destination. As one of the world’s leading shipping registries, the advantages of registering a vessel with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) are extensive:

  • Low annual maintenance fees;
  • Registration Certificates are recognised worldwide;
  • The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) has established a simple yet secure registration process, which facilitates new registrations, the transfer of ownership, the granting and release of ship mortgages and other corporate services;
  • The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) is a member of the Red Ensign Group of British Registries, which means any ship registered in the BVI is a “British Ship” entitled to fly the Red Ensign flag. The Red Ensignflag is a synonymous with quality shipping with the very highest standards;
  • As a member of the Red Ensign Group, The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) registered ships that fly the Red Ensign flag are entitled to British Diplomatic/ Consular support and Royal Navy protection;
  • the British Virgin Islands is a stable jurisdiction; and
  • the British Virgin Islands is tax neutral and a major financial centre with experts in shipping finance.

The main reason to register a ship is to prove nationality, secure title to a moveable asset and, if required, allow the ship to be used as collateral for the purpose of a marine mortgage. Proving nationality is essential for ships that undertake international voyages. Registration is also required where a marine mortgage is to be granted over the ship, which can also be registered with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”).

To complete registration with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”), you must provide:

  • The proposed name of the vessel.
  • The vessel’s Bill of Sale as proof of the individual’s or company’s ownership. Note that if the vessel is new and is being sold to you or your company directly without any intervening owner, a Bill of Sale is unnecessary. Instead, a Builder’s Certificate from the builder is required as proof of the vessel’s ownership.
  • The Deletion Certificate, obtained from the vessel’s last homeport or registry, is required as proof that it is no longer registered there. A deletion certificate is not necessary for new vessels that hold no previous registry.
  • Other relevant information for registration forms, which we will complete and submit on your behalf to VISR.
  • The Certificate of Survey and Tonnage from an authorized organisation for survey and tonnage measurements which verifies the particulars and specifications of the vessel. The VISR will accept a survey from any one of the following classification societies:
  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
  • Bureau of Veritas (BV)
  • Det Norske Veritas / Germanischer Lloyds ((DNVGL)
  • Lloyds Register of Shipping (LR)
  • ClassNK (NK)
  • Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)

After registration has been approved, the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) requests a Marking and Carving Note for the vessel. This is a certificate to the effect that the home port of the vessel is prominently marked on the stern of the vessel and that the name and tonnage are prominently marked on its beam. There are three ports of registry: 

  • Road Harbour
  • White Bay
  • Gorda Sound

When the Carving and Marking Note is returned to the Registrar of Shipping and the registration fees have been paid, the vessel will be formally registered, and the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) will issue a Certificate of Registry/Blue Book which will contain details about the vessel and its owner.   

Registration of a ship with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (“VISR”) is available to citizens of, and companies registered in:

  • the British Virgin Islands;
  • the United Kingdom and its Crown dependencies and overseas territories;
  • a member state of the European Community (EC) or European Economic Area (EEA);
  • overseas territory of a member state of the EC or EEA;
  • the Caribbean Community; and
  • the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.