The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry continues to make strides in engaging the international community, placing the British Virgin Islands at its core. In the past decade, the BVI has become a sturdy jurisdiction for international registrations. As a Category 1 Registry, many of the world's shipowners, managers, brokers, financers, and other associated professionals have and continue to form professional relationships with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry.

The Registry maintains a ship registry that meets international quality and takes pride in the support and service standard that it provides to clients. The Registry is ISO 9000:2015 certified and meets III Code standards.

Jurisdiction of Choice

BVI is a jurisdiction of choice for ship registry because it has:

  • Stable and reliable regulatory framework
  • Certified expertise in the shipping industry
  • Readily available corporate, legal, telecommunications, and courier services
  • Social and political stability with an independent, judicial legal system based on English common law
  • Courts organized with a provision for final appeal to the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (UK)
  • Regulated banking, legal, financial, and computer services
  • Regulated offshore financial centre benefits
  • No sales tax, which can also include other exempted taxes
  • An efficient registry that provides swift and expedient service
  • Modern state-of-the-art facilities, berths, accommodations, supplies, and maritime services

BVI Benefits

The BVI flag has benefits for commercial, charter, and private vessels.

  • The Registry is a member of the Red Ensign Group, which ranks among the top 10 in the world's registry groups.
  • Ships flying the BVI flag are entitled to British diplomatic and consular support and Royal Navy protection.
  • In addition to its own full survey and certification resources in-house, the BVI has a network of surveyors around the world who can attend to any need.
  • Eligibility for registered owners is not restricted to BVI corporations and citizens. Eligibility is permitted to citizens of, and companies registered in, the BVI, UK, and all British territories, as well as, the EU, CARICOM, OECS, and multiple others.
  • The BVI registers all types of ships of unlimited size as long as they meet regulatory standards.
  • The BVI has low initial registration and annual maintenance fees at competitive rates.
  • The jurisdiction has three ports of registration which allows an owner to have the name that they wish.
  • Mortgages registered in the BVI possess a clear position on priority.

Maritime Legal System

The BVI has a clear legal system based on English law and has extensive maritime legislation to maintain its maritime activities. BVI is a party to many international conventions that have been introduced into its local laws which govern every aspect of the maritime sector. The Merchant Shipping Act is the overarching authority and regulates many essential maritime sectors, including:

  • Ship registration
  • Masters and seamen
  • Ship mortgage registration
  • Safety at sea
  • Pollution
  • Shipowner liability
  • Wreck and salvage

Many subsidiary regulations, codes, and marine notices have been published under the umbrella of the Virgin Islands' Merchant Shipping Act.

The Merchant Shipping Act has continuously been updated to cover protection to shipowner, crew, financiers, and investors. This willingness to update laws that meet the needs of the maritime community has made the BVI an attractive industry service provider.

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.