China: Registration Of Bareboat Charters, Voyage Charters And Time Charters In The PRC

China Insight - Issue 19

As is the practice worldwide, charters of vessels in the PRC may either be under bareboat charter or a voyage/time charter. A bareboat charter is an arrangement for the charter of a ship where no crew or provisions are provided by the ship owner. Instead, the charterer is responsible for all such arrangements and will possess, use and operate the ship completely during the charter period. A voyage or time charter is an arrangement where the charterer charters the ship (or part of it in the case of a voyage charter) for a particular voyage or for a set period of time. In voyage or time charters, the charterer can direct the destination of the ship but the owner of the ship retains possession of the ship through the employment of the captain and crew.

In shipping finance transactions, financing banks normally wish to take security over the income generated from the operation of the ship in addition to a mortgage over the ship itself. An issue a financing bank might encounter is the verification of the information provided by the borrower about the charters relating to the ship. This article sets out the possible avenues for the registration of bareboat charters and voyage/time charters in the PRC, which may provide the financing bank with a way of verifying the authenticity of the charters reported for the ships concerned.

Registration of Bareboat Charters

Under PRC law, the entering into, transfer or termination of a bareboat charter in the PRC is subject to registration with the competent local Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) regardless of whether the bareboat charter is arranged under a finance lease or an operating lease. This is to protect against claims by bona fide third parties. Thus, information about this type of charter can be obtained through a search with the relevant MSA. Please note, however, that such information may only be provided to the parties to the charter or any third party authorised by the parties to the charter.

Registration of bareboat charters should be effected prior to the commencement of the charter and various application documents, including the signed bareboat charter, will be required. For bareboat charters from an offshore owner to an onshore charterer, the onshore charterer should also register the ship with provisional Chinese nationality and suspend its foreign primary registration. A provisional nationality certificate is normally valid for two years although this can be renewed if the charter period is for a longer term.

Other than the above, for cross-border charters, the onshore charterer should also obtain an operating permit for the leased ship from the Ministry of Transport and an import license from the Ministry of Commerce or the Import & Export Office of Mechanical and Electrical Products, depending on the types of the imported ship.

Registration of Voyage or Time Charters

No registration is required for a voyage or time charter, probably because the ship owner still maintains control over the ship and, unlike in a bareboat charter, there is thus no separation of title/ownership and possession. As a result, there is no mechanism for the registration of a voyage or time charter.

The introduction of the Finance Lease Registration System (the System) in July 2009 may provide a platform for the registration of voyage or time charters.

The System is an online registration mechanism provided by the Credit Reference Centre of the People's Bank of China (CRC). According to the registration rules issued by the CRC (CRC Rules), the System may be used to register (i) finance leases and (ii) operating leases with an agreed or actual lease period of one year or more.

The CRC Rules provide that the leased assets in relation to which a finance lease or operation lease may be registered will normally be machinery and equipment, excluding assets leased for individual or family consumption. Although it is not explicit in the CRC Rules, we understand there should be no particular obstacles to registering voyage or time charters on the System. This has also been confirmed by the CRC through our telephone consultation. However, the CRC mentioned that from a practical perspective, there are no existing registrations in respect of voyage or time charters on the System.

Who can access the System?

Only members (either permanent or normal members) of the System, may have access to the System. A permanent member must be an institution and can both search for registration information and effect registrations of leases. A normal member can be either an institution or an individual, but such normal member may only search for and not effect registrations.

How to become a normal member?

Registering as a normal member of the System is a straightforward online process which may be completed by either onshore or offshore entities or individuals.

How to become a permanent member?

To become a permanent member, an institutional applicant needs to submit certain corporate documents (e.g. business license, legal representative's identity certificate) to the local CRC after the preliminary online registration process is completed so that the CRC can verify the due incorporation and valid existence of the applicant. An offshore entity cannot be registered as a permanent member of the System.

How can a foreign institution register a lease with the System?

Either party to the lease contract can register the lease if agreed by the other party. Therefore, the foreign party may authorise the Chinese party to carry out the registration. Alternatively, both parties may authorise a third party (e.g. a local agent) to register the lease on their behalf.

What information should be registered on the System?

In relation to each of the owner and charterer, the following information is required to be registered on the System: (i) (in respect of companies) the legally registered name, legal address, name of the legal representative, number of the enterprise organisation code/financial institution code and AIC registration number; and (ii) (in respect of individuals) ID number and address shown on the identify certificate.

In relation to the leased assets, a general description of the leased assets is required to be registered which should normally contain the name, type, quality, quantity, price and location of the leased assets.

How long can the registration term be?

The registration term can be from 1 to 25 years, extendable upon application.

Who can search for registration information on the System?

Anyone who has been registered as a member (either a normal member or a permanent member) can search within the System.

How to conduct a search of the System?

Any search must be specific. A member may only search for registration information on the System by choosing any of the following categories and entering the relevant information: (i) the legal registration name of the charterer, (ii) in the case where the charterer is an individual, the ID number of the charterer; or (iii) if the leased assets (e.g. transportation vehicles) have specific commodity codes, details of such code.

Although the registration of voyage/time charters is not mandatory under PRC law, the financing bank may nevertheless require the borrower (normally the ship owner) to effect/procure registration of the relevant charters on the System in the absence of a better alternative. The financing bank should be able to have reasonable comfort in the information registered on the System (or at the very least more comfort than relying on borrower-provided information) as:

  • the CRC verifies the legal status of all parties effecting registration;
  • specific information in respect of the charterer and the leased assets has to be provided; and
  • any party related to the charterparty or with an interest in the leased assets can search and challenge the entry as it is public, allowing for the logging of dissident / challenging entries on the System to put the bank on alert.

However, the System is still a relatively new one and therefore it remains to be seen how it will evolve and if it will be used as a platform for the registration of voyage/time charters more widely. We will be closely monitoring the situation as it progresses.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.