Situated on the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been a strategic island for several important sea trade routes. The maritime industry in Cyprus has thrived under an active seafaring tradition, a tax-efficient business environment and several legislations passed by the government since 1960.
On May 23, 2019, the Deputy Ministry of Shipping updated its policy regarding the eligibility of ships registered under Cyprus law, via circular no. 10/2019. The new circular has immediate effect, superseding and replacing the previous one (circular no. 12/2012), which was in effect since October 15, 2011.
Highlights of the New Policy
- The current government policy on ship registration ("the policy") has been issued by the Deputy Minister of Shipping to the President, pursuant of the provisions of section 14A and 14B of the Merchant Shipping Law (Registration of Ships, Sales and Mortgages) 45/63 as amended ("the law").
- Additional requirements for ship registration have been issued, which should be followed in conjunction with the relevant provisions of the statutes of the Republic of Cyprus.
- Initial conditions under which ship registration is allowed continues to be applicable; irrespective of any later amendments in government policy for the registration of ships.
- The registered owner or registered bareboat charterer, whose ship was registered under the provisions of the previous law, can apply for the substitution of conditions, which were in effect during the initial registration, with those in the new policy for ships of the same type and age. However, the age of the ship will be considered as it was at the time of initial registration.
In general, ships of any size and type are allowed to be registered in the Special Book of Parallel Registration or Register of Cyprus ships, provided that the vessel satisfies the 'age' and 'type' requirements specified below.
|Type of Ship||Early Inspection Required||Additional Inspection Requirement|
|Cargo Ships||Yes, if age is greater than or equal to 15 years||No|
|Passenger ships engaged in international and short international voyages, or domestic voyages in a territory or state outside Cyprus||Yes, if age is greater than equal to 20 years||Yes, if over 20 years old (biennially – every 2 years)|
|Fishing vessels with age less than 25 years old||Yes||Yes (annually)|
|Ships of other types than those listed above||Yes, if over 15 years old (Non-propelled crafts, pleasure yachts and other ships with gross tonnage less than 500, can be excluded from this condition)||No|
In addition to the above conditions, all ships, excluding passenger vehicles and fishing vessels, over 25 years of age must meet the following conditions:
- The ship has to pass an entry inspection, before registration in the Cyprus Registry of Ships; and
- The ships' age and detention records must justify the registration.
All entry inspections and additional inspections, wherever required, will be performed by a purveyor from the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, and the registered owner or the registered bareboat charterer will have to bear the cost of inspection.
Under certain conditions, the Registrar of Cyprus ships will not consider applications for registration in the Register of Cyprus Ships or the Special Book of Parallel Registration of ships. These conditions include:
- If at the time of application, any ship has been banned on the port State control grounds by a state member of any of the Memoranda of Understanding on port State control, from entering the ports of the States party.
- If any ship has been detained on the port State control grounds for 3 or more times, during the previous 2 year period, prior to the application process of registration, by States members of the Paris or the Tokyo or the Mediterranean Memoranda of Understanding on port State control, or by the US Coast Guard.
- If a ship has been constructed exclusively for inland navigation (internal waters, canals, artificial lakes, dams and reservoirs).
Registration in the Cyprus Registry of Ships or the Special Book of Parallel Registration will be allowed, provided the below type-specific requirements are met:
1. Passenger and Cargo Ships
Passenger and cargo ships engaged in international voyages (including short international voyages), must employ cadets who are permanent Cypriot residents, when asked to engage cadets for training by the Shipping Deputy Ministry's permanent secretary.
2. Fishing Vessels
Fishing vessels require authorization by the Director of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment; without which applications for their registration will not be considered.
The EU Directive 97/70/EC, issued on December 11, 1997, established a mutually agreed upon safety regime for fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above. In case a vessel falls beyond the scope of this directive, it must:
- Be classed by a recognised organisation
- Comply with regulations, codes, guidelines and standards of the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, or the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the European Union, relevant to the type of vessel; and
- Be surveyed and certified accordingly by that organisation
Fishing vessels that are more than 25 years old will not be accepted for application for registration in the Cyprus Registry of Ships or the Special Book of Parallel Registration.
For policy purposes, fishing vessels mean ships that are actively used for fishing operations and processing, storage or carriage of fish; fish here is a collective term used to denote molluscs, crustaceans and any aquatic species that are harvested. But, this does not include any ships used for transport of fish and fish products as cargo.
The policy also contains guidelines regarding the manner in which the "age" of a ship can be calculated, including conditions where a ship has undergone extensive renovation. Further details have also been provided as to the period when entry inspections and any additional inspections need to be performed.
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.