Ship Registry

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas has one of the world’s fastest growing ship registries.  Its long standing political stability and highly respected judicial system are two unique assets amongst open registries which make The Bahamas an increasingly preferred ship registry.

The Bahamas offers such critical and strategic advantages as:

  • a central location with easy access and proximity to North and South American markets;
  • world-class banking services;
  • and excellent telecommunications and transportation infrastructure; and
    modern and up-to-date visitor facilities


The Bahamas register now lists more than 1,500 vessels and constitutes the world’s third largest fleet, having grown from less than one million gross tons (GRT) in 1983 to more than 27 million GRT today.  Among ships on the Bahamian register are Chevron, Exxon International, Maersk Line, Cunard Lines, Texaco, Holland-America Cruises, Finnlines, Teekay Shipping, Lauritzen Reefers, Smit International, the East Asiatic Company and MSC.

As a member and leading contributor to the International Maritime Organisation, The Bahamas provides an effective conduit through which the views of shipowners may be heard, and is able to keep registrants apprised of critical developments in international shipping regulations.



Foreign-owned vessels may be registered in The Bahamas if they are less than 12 years old, at least 1,600 net registered tons (NRT) and engaged in ‘foreign-going’ trade. Vessels more than 12 years old may also be approved for registration subject to a successful condition survey: ABS, BV, DNV, GL, KR, LRS, NKK, or RINA.


The operations and income associated with Bahamas Flag vessels are entirely tax-free, as are capital gains on the sale of vessels. Foreign-owned vessels of more than 150 GRT are also exempt from Bahamas customs duties and documentary stamp taxes, whether they call at local ports or not.

Crewing Flexibility

Foreign officers and crew members may serve on Bahamian registered vessels provided that the officers hold foreign professional certification acceptable to The Bahamas Maritime Authority and which conforms to Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) regulations.

Ease of Safety and Tonnage Certification

Shipowners can transfer foreign registered vessels to the Bahamian Flag without a survey if the vessels have valid Safety and Tonnage certificates.  Long committed to maintaining stringent standards of maritime safety, The Bahamas allows for convenient Annual Safety Inspections.  A comprehensive network of appointed nautical inspectors in over 300 ports is authorized to conduct these inspections and assist owners when necessary.

Competitive Fees and a Simple Fee Structure

The Bahamas offers competitive registration fees:

  • US$1.00/NRT for vessels of 5,000 or less; or
  • US$0.90/NRT for vessels of 5,001 or more.

The maximum registration fee is US$22,500 for vessels of 25,000 NRT or over, and the minimum fee is US$2,000 for vessels of less than 2,000NRT.  Annual fees are US$2090 plus US$0.20 or US$0.17 per ton, depending on the size of the vessel.  The minimum annual fee is US$2552.   Discounts on registration fees are available for newly built vessels, or for groups of three or more vessels registering at the same time.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority

Established on July 1, 1995, The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is a semi-autonomous, government-owned corporation specifically designed to be responsive to the needs of the maritime marketplace.  Guided by advice from leading shipowners, the BMA is increasing staff, streamlining registry procedures, and instituting improvements in support systems.

The BMA’s focus is on:

  • ensuring that the standards are maintained on Bahamian Flag vessels at a level sufficient to ensure the highest reputation of the Bahamian fleet with Port States;
  • continuing the proven flexibility of manning vessels while ensuring that standards of certification and competency remain commensurate with STCW;
  • providing technical support to Bahamian Flag owners to ensure that questions concerning the technical facets of Flag requirements are answered in a prompt, courteous and helpful manner;
  • facilitating ease of registration and subsequent mortgage transactions for all ships;
  • ensuring prompt and effective casualty investigations; and
  • ensuring that exemplary contingency planning is available to respond to incidents which may occur on Bahamian Flag vessels.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority
P.O. Box N-4679
Nassau, Bahamas
Tel. (242) 394-3024
Fax. (242) 394-3014


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