Domestic Vessels

All vessels operating in Jamaican waters are required to be registered. Only registered vessels may engage in Local Trade in Jamaican Waters. Local Trade is any activity in which the vessel is used, to generate revenue (whether directly or indirectly). Registration of a vessel in Jamaica, ascribes to it a Jamaican nationality. The vessel must then fly the Jamaica Flag.

A Small Vessel is any vessel under 24 metres in length overall, regardless of construction, used in any inland or coastal waters of Jamaica. All Small Vessels must be registered except:

  • Pleasure Craft of not more than Five (5) metres in length overall
  • Pleasure Craft of not more than Three (3) metres, with an engine of not more than 3.73 Kw (5 Hp)
  • Vessels not required to be registered
  • Vessels exempt under the Shipping Act, 1998, from registration.

For the purposes of registration, vessels are considered as:

  1. Pleasure Crafts
  2. Commercial Vessels
  3. Exempt

Exempt vessels are those vessels that have been granted exemption from registration by the Minister, under the Shipping Act.  Commercial Vessels are all vessels engaged in the transport of people or goods or other commercial activities and include fishing vessels and vessels on which guests of hotels, boarding house and other such institution of lodging, are paying or non-paying passengers. Pleasure Crafts are vessels used exclusively for pleasure and or the transport of passengers that are not required to pay fees for the service.

Why Register?

Small Vessel (under 24 metres in length overall) registration:

  • Produces a Certificate of Registry as evidence of title (similar to a Certificate of Title for a car); and
  • Produces a Small Vessel Safety Inspection Certificate (similar to a Certificate of Fitness for a car)
  • Facilitates the Registration of Mortgages where the vessel as security for a mortgage.
  • Permits the vessel to engage in commercial activities in Jamaican waters
  • Provides protection for vessels operating outside Jamaican coastal waters
  • Facilitates the process of insurance of the vessel against damages

What is Required For Registration?

To be registered in Jamaica, all vessels must satisfy the administrative and technical requirements of the process. This include:  

  1. Complete Application for Registration

    All documents are required to be Notarized unless witnessed/certified in Jamaica before a Justice of the Peace.

    1. Application Form
    2. Declaration of Ownership
    3. Proof of Eligibility to own a Jamaican Ship
      1. Evidence of Jamaican Nationality (Passport if Jamaican)
      2. Company documents
        1. Certificate of Incorporation
        2. Notice of Directors
        3. Certificate of Good Standing (if over One (1) year old)
    4. Proof of Ownership - Bill of Sale; Builder’s Certificate
    5. Application for Radio Licence
    6. Certificate of Deletion/De-Registration (if previously registered)
    7. Pay the applicable Fee
  2. Successfully undergo an inspection for technical compliance
  3. Being issued with the Jamaican Certificates as evidence of the completion of the process.

How to Register

The process of registration comprises Four (4) simple steps:

  • Contact the MAJ for necessary guidance (such as the correct Fee payable)
  • Submit the Application complete with evidence of payment of the correct Fee to: The Registrar of Ships
  • Facilitate an inspection of the vessel (for safety and markings as a Jamaican vessel)
  • Storage of the registration documents received, onboard the vessel.


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