Note that there are links to forms which are available for downloading at the bottom of the page.

General Information

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) welcomes all types of vessels to the register while ensuring certain legal and safety standards are met. As part of the registration requirements, the technical suitability and age of a vessel are also taken into consideration before it is accepted to fly the Bahamas Flag.

Foreign-owned ships engaged in international trade may be registered in The Bahamas. Vessels over 12 years old are subject to a pre-registration inspection undertaken by an authorised Bahamas inspector and applications are approved on an individual basis. Applications for vessels of less than 1600 net tons may also be submitted to the register and will be assessed on an individual basis.

A foreign owner, irrespective of nationality or place of incorporation, can hold direct title to a Bahamas-flagged ship but some foreign owners find it useful to incorporate a Bahamian company for this purpose primarily because there is no income tax or capital gains tax in The Bahamas. The operation and income of a Bahamian registered ship or any capital gain on its sale are therefore completely tax free in The Bahamas whether the vessel is foreign-owned or owned by a Bahamian company.

The BMA is able to assist with the incorporation of Bahamian registered companies.

Further details may be obtained by contacting any one of the BMA Registrars.

How to Register

Ship owners wishing to register their vessels under the Bahamas Flag may do so through the London, Nassau, New York or Hong Kong offices. Additionally, registration documents can currently be processed through the Tokyo Agency office.

Full on-the-spot registration services will soon be available in Tokyo as well as Greece and Germany.

To start the registration process, the ship owner, who may be an individual or a corporation, must complete and submit to the Registrar an Application to Register form (R102) giving the name and general details of the vessel. A Registration of Managing Owner form (R104) which provides full contact details of the managers responsible for the day to day management of the ship should also be submitted together with copies of the vessel's current class certificates (see Technical Procedures and Requirements for Registration of Ships).

The application will be reviewed and the Registrar will then confirm the vessel's suitability for provisional registration on to the register (as applicable). Further, the Registrar will reserve the vessel's name and issue Bahamas identification details i.e. official number, call sign and MMSI number. The remaining registration forms and required documents listed below should then be submitted together with the applicable registration fees.

Once all registration requirements are fulfilled, the vessel will be registered and the following Bahamas certificates and documents will be issued:

  • Provisional Certificate of Registry
  • Radio Communication License
  • Safe Manning Document
  • Ship's Carving and Marking Note
  • Oil Pollution CLC
  • Bunker CLC
  • Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR)
  • LRIT Comformance Test Report (CTR)
  • Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) - Part 1 
  • Set of Ship Statutory Publications

NB: Mortgages may also be registered against a vessel following its provisional registration.

Vessels are provisionally registered for a period of six months to allow owners to complete all flag change formalities and fulfill BMA requirements for permanent registration (see requirements listed below).

Once all requirements are met, a permanent Certificate of Registry will be issued.

The BMA also has a user friendly procedure for the registration and discharge of mortgages. A Bahamian statutory mortgage form (R208) should be completed in accordance with the footnotes provided on the form and duly executed and notarised. To record the mortgage transaction, the original instrument must be forwarded to the Registrar together with the applicable fees. Mortgages are recorded in the order of the date and time in which they are presented to the Registrar.

The friendly and efficient support staff and Registrars of the Registration Department at the BMA are always available to assist with any questions the ship owners and/or their agents may have. Their needs will be addressed promptly!