UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON CONDITIONS FOR REGISTRATION OF SHIPS
THE STATES PARTIES TO THIS CONVENTION,
RECOGNIZING the need to promote the orderly expansion of world shipping as a whole,
RECALLING General Assembly resolution 35/56 of 5 December 1980, the annex to which contains the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade, which called, inter alia , in paragraph 128, for an increase in the participation by developing countries in world transport of international trade,
RECALLING also that according to the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea there must exist a genuine link between a ship and a flag State and conscious of the duties of the flag State to exercise effectively its jurisdiction and control over ships flying its flag in accordance with the principle of the genuine link,
BELIEVING that to this end a flag State should have a competent and adequate national maritime administration,
BELIEVING also that in order to exercise its control function effectively a flag State should ensure that those who are responsible for the management and operation of a ship on its register are readily identifiable and accountable,
BELIEVING further that measures to make persons responsible for ships more readily identifiable and accountable could assist in the task of combating maritime fraud,
REAFFIRMING, without prejudice to this Convention, that each State shall fix the conditions for the grant of its nationality to ships, for the registration of ships in its territory and for the right to fly its flag,
PROMPTED by the desire among sovereign States to resolve in a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation all issues relating to the conditions for the grant of nationality to, and for the registration of, ships,
CONSIDERING that nothing in this Convention shall be deemed to prejudice any provisions in the national laws and regulations of the Contracting Parties to this Convention, which exceed the provisions contained herein,
RECOGNIZING the competences of the specialized agencies and other institutions of the United Nations system as contained in their respective constitutional instruments, taking into account arrangements which may have been concluded between the United Nations and the agencies, and between individual agencies and institutions in specific fields,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
For the purpose of ensuring or, as the case may be, strengthening the genuine link between a State and ships flying its flag, and in order to exercise effectively its jurisdiction and control over such ships with regard to identification and accountability of shipowners and operators as well as with regard to administrative, technical, economic and social matters, a flag State shall apply the provisions contained in this Convention.
For the purposes of this Convention:
"Ship" means any self-propelled sea-going vessel used in international seaborne trade for the transport of goods, passengers, or both with the exception of vessels of less than 500 gross registered tons;
"Flag State" means a State whose flag a ship flies and is entitled to fly;
"Owner" or "shipowner" means, unless clearly indicated otherwise, any natural or juridical person recorded in the register of ships of the State of registration as an owner of a ship;
"Operator" means the owner or bareboat charterer, or any other natural or juridical person to whom the responsibilities of the owner or bareboat charterer have been formally assigned;
"State of registration" means the State in whose register of ships a ship has been entered;
"Register of ships" means the official register or registers in which particulars referred to in article 11 of this Convention are recorded;
"National maritime administration" means any State authority or agency which is established by the State of registration in accordance with its legislation and which, pursuant to that legislation, is responsible, inter alia , for the implementation of international agreements concerning maritime transport and for the application of rules and standards concerning ships under its jurisdiction and control;
"Bareboat charter" means a contract for the lease of a ship, for a stipulated period of time, by virtue of which the lessee has complete possession and control of the ship, including the right to appoint the master and crew of the ship, for the duration of the lease;
"Labour-supplying country" means a country which provides seafarers for service on a ship flying the flag of another country.
Scope of application
This Convention shall apply to all ships as defined in article 2.
1. Every State, whether coastal or land-locked, has the right to sail ships flying its flag on the high seas.
2. Ships have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to fly.
3. Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only.
4. No ships shall be entered in the registers of ships of two or more States at a time, subject to the provisions of paragraphs 4 and 5 of article 11 and to article 12.
5. A ship may not change its flag during a voyage or while in a port of call, save in the case of a real transfer of ownership or change of registry.
National Maritime Administration
1. The flag State shall have a competent and adequate national maritime administration, which shall be subject to its jurisdiction and control.
2. The flag State shall implement applicable international rules and standards concerning, in particular, the safety of ships and persons on board and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment.
3. The maritime administration of the flag State shall ensure:
(a) That ships flying the flag of such State comply with its laws and regulations concerning registration of ships and with applicable international rules and standards concerning, in particular, the safety of ships and persons on board and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment;
(b) That ships flying the flag of such State are periodically surveyed by its authorized surveyors in order to ensure compliance with applicable international rules and standards;
(c) That ships flying the flag of such State carry on board documents, in particular those evidencing the right to fly its flag and other valid relevant documents, including those required by international conventions to which the State of registration is a Party;
(d) That the owners of ships flying the flag of such State comply with the principles of registration of ships in accordance with the laws and regulations of such State and the provisions of this Convention.
4. The State of registration shall require all the appropriate information necessary for full identification and accountability concerning ships flying its flag.
Identification and accountability
1. The State of registration shall enter in its register of ships, inter alia , information concerning the ship and its owner or owners. Information concerning the operator, when the operator is not the owner, should be included in the register of ships or in the official record of operators to be maintained in the office of the Registrar or be readily accessible to him, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of registration. The State of registration shall issue documentation as evidence of the registration of the ship.
2. The State of registration shall take such measures as are necessary to ensure that the owner or owners, the operator or operators, or any other person or persons who can be held accountable for the management and operation of ships flying its flag can be easily identified by persons having a legitimate interest in obtaining such information.
3. Registers of ships should be available to those with a legitimate interest in obtaining information contained therein, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the flag State.
4. A State should ensure that ships flying its flag carry documentation including information about the identity of the owner or owners, the operator or operators or the person or persons accountable for the operation of such ships, and make available such information to port State authorities.
5. Log-books should be kept on all ships and retained for a reasonable period after the date of the last entry, notwithstanding any change in a ship's name, and should be available for inspection and copying by persons having a legitimate interest in obtaining such information, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the flag State. In the event of a ship being sold and its registration being changed to another State, log-books relating to the period before such sale should be retained and should be available for inspection and copying by persons having a legitimate interest in obtaining such information, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the former flag State.
6. A State shall take necessary measures to ensure that ships it enters in its register of ships have owners or operators who are adequately identifiable for the purpose of ensuring their full accountability.
7. A State should ensure that direct contact between owners of ships flying its flag and its government authorities is not restricted.
Participation by nationals in the ownership and/or manning of ships
With respect to the provisions concerning manning and ownership of ships as contained in paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 8 and paragraphs 1 to 3 of article 9, respectively, and without prejudice to the application of any other provisions of this Convention, a State of registration has to comply either with the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 8 or with the provisions of paragraphs 1 to 3 of article 9, but may comply with both.
Ownership of ships
1. Subject to the provisions of article 7, the flag State shall provide in its laws and regulations for the ownership of ships flying its flag.
2. Subject to the provisions of article 7, in such laws and regulations the flag State shall include appropriate provisions for participation by that State or its nationals as owners of ships flying its flag or in the ownership of such ships and for the level of such participation. These laws and regulations should be sufficient to permit the flag State to exercise effectively its jurisdiction and control over ships flying its flag.
Manning of ships
1. Subject to the provisions of article 7, a State of registration, when implementing this Convention, shall observe the principle that a satisfactory part of the complement consisting of officers and crew of ships flying its flag be nationals or persons domiciled or lawfully in permanent residence in that State.
2. Subject to the provisions of article 7 and in pursuance of the goal set out in paragraph 1 of this article, and in taking necessary measures to this end, the State of registration shall have regard to the following:
(a) the availability of qualified seafarers within the State of registration;
(b) multilateral or bilateral agreements or other types of arrangements valid and enforceable pursuant to the legislation of the State of registration;
(c) the sound and economically viable operation of its ships.
3. The State of registration should implement the provision of paragraph 1 of this article on a ship, company or fleet basis.
4. The State of registration, in accordance with its laws and regulations, may allow persons of other nationalities to serve on board ships flying its flag in accordance with the relevant provisions of this Convention.
5. In pursuance of the goal set out in paragraph 1 of this article, the State of registration should, in co-operation with shipowners, promote the education and training of its nationals or persons domiciled or lawfully in permanent residence within its territory.
6. The State of registration shall ensure:
(a) that the manning of ships flying its flag is of such a level and competence as to ensure compliance with applicable international rules and standards, in particular those regarding safety at sea;
(b) that the terms and conditions of employment on board ships flying its flag are in conformity with applicable international rules and standards;
(c) that adequate legal procedures exist for the settlement of civil disputes between seafarers employed on ships flying its flag and their employers;
(d) that nationals and foreign seafarers have equal access to appropriate legal processes to secure their contractual rights in their relations with their employers.
Role of flag States in respect of the management of shipowning companies and ships
1. The State of registration, before entering a ship in its register of ships, shall ensure that the shipowning company or a subsidiary shipowning company is established and/or has its principal place of business within its territory in accordance with its laws and regulations.
2. Where the shipowning company or a subsidiary shipowning company or the principal place of business of the shipowning company is not established in the flag State, the latter shall ensure, before entering a ship in its register of ships, that there is a representative or management person who shall be a national of the flag State, or be domiciled therein. Such a representative or management person may be a natural or juridical person who is duly established or incorporated in the flag State, as the case may be, in accordance with its laws and regulations, and duly empowered to act on the shipowner's behalf and account. In particular, this representative or management person should be available for any legal process and to meet the shipowner's responsibilities in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of registration.
3. The State of registration should ensure that the person or persons accountable for the management and operation of a ship flying its flag are in a position to meet the financial obligations that may arise from the operation of such a ship to cover risks which are normally insured in international maritime transportation in respect of damage to third parties. To this end the State of registration should ensure that ships flying its flag are in a position to provide at all times documents evidencing that an adequate guarantee, such as appropriate insurance or any other equivalent means, has been arranged. Furthermore, the State of registration should ensure that an appropriate mechanism, such as a maritime lien, mutual fund, wage insurance, social security scheme, or any governmental guarantee provided by an appropriate agency of the State of the accountable person, whether that person is an owner or operator, exists to cover wages and related monies owed to seafarers employed on ships flying its flag in the event of default of payment by their employers. The State of registration may also provide for any other appropriate mechanism to that effect in its laws and regulations.
Register of ships
1. A State of registration shall establish a register of ships flying its flag, which register shall be maintained in a manner determined by that State and in conformity with the relevant provisions of this Convention. Ships entitled by the laws and regulations of a State to fly its flag shall be entered in this register in the name of the owner or owners or, where national laws and regulations so provide, the bareboat charterer.
2. Such register shall, inter alia , record the following:
(a) the name of the ship and the previous name and registry if any;
(b) the place or port of registration or home port and the official number or mark of identification of the ship;
(c) the international call sign of the ship, if assigned;
(d) the name of the builders, place of build and year of building of the ship;
(e) the description of the main technical characteristics of the ship;
(f) the name, address and, as appropriate, the nationality of the owner or of each of the owners;
and, unless recorded in another public document readily accessible to the Registrar in the flag State:
(g) the date of deletion or suspension of the previous registration of the ship;
(h) the name, address and, as appropriate, the nationality of the bareboat charterer, where national laws and regulations provide for the registration of ships bareboat chartered-in;
(i) the particulars of any mortgages or other similar charges upon the ship as stipulated by national laws and regulations.
3. Furthermore, such register should also record:
(a) if there is more than one owner, the proportion of the ship owned by each;
(b) the name, address and, as appropriate, the nationality of the operator, when the operator is not the owner or the bareboat charterer.
4. Before entering a ship in its register of ships a State should assure itself that the previous registration, if any, is deleted.
5. In the case of a ship bareboat chartered-in a State should assure itself that right to fly the flag of the former flag State is suspended. Such registration shall be effected on production of evidence, indicating suspension of previous registration as regards the nationality of the ship under the former flag State and indicating particulars of any registered encumbrances.
1. Subject to the provisions of article 11 and in accordance with its laws and regulations a State may grant registration and the right to fly its flag to a ship bareboat chartered-in by a charterer in that State, for the period of that charter.
2. When shipowners or charterers in States Parties to this Convention enter into such bareboat charter activities, the conditions of registration contained in this Convention should be fully complied with.
3. To achieve the goal of compliance and for the purpose of applying the requirements of this Convention in the case of a ship so bareboat chartered-in the charterer will be considered to be the owner. This Convention, however, does not have the effect of providing for any ownership rights in the chartered ship other than those stipulated in the particular bareboat charter contract.
4. A State should ensure that a ship bareboat chartered-in and flying its flag, pursuant to paragraphs 1 to 3 of this article, will be subject to its full jurisdiction and control.
5. The State where the bareboat chartered-in ship is registered shall ensure that the former flag State is notified of the deletion of the registration of the bareboat chartered ship.
6. All terms and conditions, other than those specified in this article, relating to the relationship of the parties to a bareboat charter are left to the contractual disposal of those parties.
1. Contracting Parties to this Convention, in conformity with their national policies, legislation and the conditions for registration of ships contained in this Convention, should promote joint ventures between shipowners of different countries, and should, to this end, adopt appropriate arrangements, inter alia , by safeguarding the contractual rights of the parties to joint ventures, to further the establishment of such joint ventures in order to develop the national shipping industry.
2. Regional and international financial institutions and aid agencies should be invited to contribute, as appropriate, to the establishment and/or strengthening of joint ventures in the shipping industry of developing countries, particularly in the least developed among them.
Measures to protect the interests of labour-supplying countries
1. For the purpose of safeguarding the interests of labour-supplying countries and of minimizing labour displacement and consequent economic dislocation, if any, within these countries, particularly developing countries, as a result of the adoption of this Convention, urgency should be given to the implementation, inter alia , of the measures as contained in Resolution 1 annexed to this Convention.
2. In order to create favourable conditions for any contract or arrangement that may be entered into by shipowners or operators and the trade unions of seamen or other representative seamen bodies, bilateral agreements may be concluded between flag States and labour-supplying countries concerning the employment of seafarers of those labour-supplying countries.
Measures to minimize adverse economic effects
For the purpose of minimizing adverse economic effects that might occur within developing countries, in the process of adapting and implementing conditions to meet the requirements established by this Convention, urgency should be given to the implementation, inter alia , of the measures as contained in Resolution 2 annexed to this Convention.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be the depositary of this Convention.
1. Contracting Parties shall take any legislative or other measures necessary to implement this Convention.
2. Each Contracting Party shall, at appropriate times, communicate to the depositary the texts of any legislative or other measures which it has taken in order to implement this Convention.
3. The depositary shall transmit upon request to Contracting Parties the texts of the legislative or other measures which have been communicated to him pursuant to paragraph 2 of this article.
Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession
1. All States are entitled to become Contracting Parties to this Convention by:
(a) signature not subject to ratification, acceptance or approval; or
(b) signature subject to and followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
2. This Convention shall be open for signature from 1 May 1986 to and including 30 April 1987, at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York and shall thereafter remain open for accession.
3. Instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall be deposited with the depositary.
Entry into force
1. This Convention shall enter into force 12 months after the date on which not less than 40 States, the combined tonnage of which amounts to at least 25 per cent of world tonnage, have become Contracting Parties to it in accordance with article 18. For the purpose of this article the tonnage shall be deemed to be that contained in annex III to this Convention.
2. For each State which becomes a Contracting Party to this Convention after the conditions for entry into force under paragraph 1 of this article have been met, the Convention shall enter into force for that State 12 months after that State has become a Contracting Party.
Review and amendments
1. After the expiry of a period of eight years from the date of entry into force of this Convention, a Contracting Party may, by written communication addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, propose specific amendments to this Convention and request the convening of a review conference to consider such proposed amendments. The Secretary-General shall circulate such communication to all Contracting Parties. If, within 12 months from the date of the circulation of the communication, not less than two-fifths of the Contracting Parties reply favourably to the request, the Secretary-General shall convene the Review Conference.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall circulate to all Contracting Parties the texts of any proposals for, or views regarding, amendments, at least six months before the opening date of the Review Conference.
Effect of amendments
1. The decisions of a review conference regarding amendments shall be taken by consensus or, upon request, by a vote of a two-thirds majority of the Contracting Parties present and voting. Amendments adopted by such a conference shall be communicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to all the Contracting Parties for ratification, acceptance, or approval and to all the States signatories of the Convention for information.
2. Ratification, acceptance or approval of amendments adopted by a review conference shall be effected by the deposit of a formal instrument to that effect with the depositary.
3. Any amendment adopted by a review conference shall enter into force only for those Contracting Parties which have ratified, accepted or approved it, on the first day of the month following one year after its ratification, acceptance or approval by two-thirds of the Contracting Parties. For any State ratifying, accepting or approving an amendment after it has been ratified, accepted or approved by two-thirds of the Contracting Parties, the amendment shall enter into force one year after its ratification, acceptance or approval by that State.
4. Any State which becomes a Contracting Party to this Convention after the entry into force of an amendment shall, failing an expression of a different intention by that State:
(a) Be considered as a Party to this Convention as amended; and
(b) Be considered as a Party to the unamended Convention in relation to any Contracting Party not bound by the amendment.
1. Any Contracting Party may denounce this Convention at any time by means of a notification in writing to this effect addressed to the depositary.
2. Such denunciation shall take effect on the expiration of one year after the notification is received by the depositary, unless a longer period has been specified in the notification.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have affixed their signatures hereunder on the dates indicated.
DONE at Geneva on 7 February 1986 in one original in the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages, all texts being equally authentic.
Measures to protect the interests of labour-supplying countries
The United Nations Conference on Conditions for Registration of Ships,
Having adopted the United Nations Convention on Conditions for Registration of Ships,
Recommends as follows:-
1. Labour-supplying countries should regulate the activities of the agencies within their jurisdiction that supply seafarers for ships flying the flag of another country in order to ensure that the contractual terms offered by those agencies will prevent abuses and contribute to the welfare of seafarers. For the protection of their seafarers, labour-supplying countries may require, inter alia , suitable security of the type mentioned in article 10 from the owners or operators of ships employing such seafarers or from other appropriate bodies;
2. Labour-supplying developing countries may consult each other in order to harmonize as much as possible their policies concerning the conditions upon which they will supply labour in accordance with these principles and may, if necessary, harmonize their legislation in this respect;
3. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and other appropriate international bodies should upon request provide assistance to labour-supplying developing countries for establishing appropriate legislation for registration of ships and attracting ships to their registers, taking into account this Convention;
4. The International Labour Organisation should upon request provide assistance to labour-supplying countries for the adoption of measures in order to minimize labour displacement and consequent economic dislocation, if any, within labour-supplying countries which might result from the adoption of this Convention;
5. Appropriate international organizations within the United Nations system should upon request provide assistance to labour-supplying countries for the education and training of their seafarers, including the provision of training and equipment facilities.
Measures to minimize adverse economic effects
The United Nations Conference on Conditions for Registration of Ships,
Having adopted the United Nations Convention on Conditions for Registration of Ships,
Recommends as follows:-
1. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Maritime Organization and other appropriate international bodies should provide, upon request, technical and financial assistance to those countries which may be affected by this Convention in order to formulate and implement modern and effective legislation for the development of their fleet in accordance with the provisions of this Convention;
2. The International Labour Organisation and other appropriate international organizations should also provide, upon request, assistance to those countries for the preparation and implementation of educational and training programmes for their seafarers as may be necessary;
3. The United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and other appropriate international organizations should provide to those countries, upon request, technical and financial assistance for the implementation of alternative national development plans, programmes and projects to overcome economic dislocation which might result from the adoption of this Convention.
Merchant fleets of the world
Ships of 500 grt and above as at 1 July 1985
Gross registered tons (grt)
Cape Verde 8,765
Costa Rica 12,616
Côte d'Ivoire 124,706
Democratic Kampuchea 998
Democratic Yemen 4,229
Dominican Republic 35,667
Equatorial Guinea 6,412
Faeroe Islands 39,333
German Democratic Republic 1,235,840
Germany, Federal Republic of 5,717,767
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 2,172,401
Korea, Dem. People's Republic of 470,592
Korea, Republic of 6,621,898
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 832,450
New Zealand 266,285
Papua New Guinea 10,671
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 220,490
Saudi Arabia 2,868,689
Solomon Islands 1,018
South Africa 501,386
Sri Lanka 617,628
Syrian Arab Republic 40,506
Tanzania, United Republic of 43,471
Trinidad and Tobago 9,370
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 16,767,526
United Arab Emirates 805,318
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland 13,260,290
British Virgin Islands 1,939
Cayman Islands 313,755
Hong Kong 6,820,100
Saint Helena 3,150
Turks and Caicos Islands 513
United States of America 13,922,244
World total 383,533,282
Source: Compiled on the basis of data supplied by Lloyd's Shipping Information Services (London).
(i) Types of ship included:
- Oil tankers
- Oil/chemical tankers
- Chemical tankers
- Miscellaneous tankers (trading)
- Liquified gas carriers
- Bulk/oil carriers (including ore/oil)
- Ore and bulk carriers
- General cargo ships
- Containerships (fully cellular and lighter carriers)
- Vehicle carriers
- Ferries and passenger ships and passenger/cargo ships
- Livestock carriers
(ii) Excluding the reserve fleet of the United States of America and the United States and Canadian Great Lakes Fleets.