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.

The Bahamas ship register is the flag of choice for many top quality ship owners. It is one of the world’s largest Registers with over 50 million gross tons of ships flying the Bahamas Flag.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (the “BMA”) was established on the 1st July, 1995 and is a semi-autonomous, government-owned corporation which focuses on maintaining the highest reputation of the Bahamian fleet and that high standards are maintained on Bahamian flag vessels as well as a clean maritime environment. Its function is to register vessels, enforce ship safety requirements and monitor and improve standards.

Key Features

  1. 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.
  2. Its reputation of quality and excellence. The BMA welcomes all types of vessels to register whilst ensuring that the highest international standards are met.
  3. It has a young fleet. The registration of older vessels is actively discouraged and ships over 12 years old are only admitted if they meet exceptional criteria.
  4. It has offices around the world enabling the BMA to provide continuous support and assistance to ship owners, their agents and crew.
  5. Availability of Nautical Inspectors. The BMA has approved a worldwide network of nautical inspectors to undertake safety and crew condition inspections on board Bahamian vessels and are available to assist ship owners, wherever their vessels may be.
  6. Foreigners can hold direct title to a Bahamian vessel. As long as a vessel is engaged in “foreign going trade” i.e. engaged in trade that is not exclusively within The Islands of The Bahamas or between The Bahamas and the East Coast of Florida, a foreign owner, irrespective of nationality or place of incorporation, can hold title to a Bahamian flag vessel either directly or through a corporate entity. Furthermore any vessel of 1600 or more net tonnage regardless of the nationality of her owners may also be registered as a home trade ship with the express permission of the Minister responsible for Maritime Affairs.

Bahamas Ship Registration Distinctive Benefits 

  • Its reputation of quality and excellence. The BMA welcomes all types of vessels to register whilst ensuring that the highest international standards are met.
  • It has a young fleet. The registration of older vessels is actively discouraged and ships over 12 years old are only admitted if they meet exceptional criteria.
  • It has offices around the world enabling the BMA to provide continuous support and assistance to ship-owners, their agents and crew.
  • Availability of Nautical Inspectors. The BMA has approved a worldwide network of nautical inspectors to undertake safety and crew condition inspections on board Bahamian vessels and are available to assist ship owners, wherever their vessels may be.
  • Foreigners can hold direct title to a Bahamian vessel. As long as a vessel is engaged in “foreign going trade” i.e. engaged in trade that is not exclusively within The Islands of The Bahamas or between The Bahamas and the East Coast of Florida, a foreign owner, irrespective of nationality or place of incorporation, can hold title to a Bahamian flag vessel either directly or through a corporate entity. Furthermore any vessel of 1600 or more net tonnage regardless of the nationality of her owners may also be registered as a home trade ship with the express permission of the Minister responsible for Maritime Affairs.
  • Tax Exemptions. The Bahamas does not impose any tax on income, capital gains or similar financial revenues. Therefore, the operation or income of a Bahamian- registered vessel or any capital gain on her sale is tax-free in The Bahamas. Foreign owned vessels of more than 150 GRT are also exempt from Bahamas custom duties and documentary stamp taxes, whether they call at local ports or not. In addition, all instruments used for carrying into effect Part II of the Act, such as the prescribed forms required for the registration of vessels and mortgages of Bahamian vessels, are exempt from stamp duty.
  • Competitive fees. The Bahamas offers competitive registration and annual fees for vessels engaged in commercial foreign trade.
  • Crewing flexibility. Foreign officers and crew members may serve on Bahamian vessels provided the officers hold foreign professional certification acceptable to the BMA and a license has been issued to them by the BMA. Upon production of the officers’ Certificate of Competency granted by a competent recognized foreign authority and upon payment of a prescribed fee, a Bahamian license of qualification will be issued to the officers.
  • Dual Registration. Where The Bahamas is the primary country of registration, bareboat or dual registry is allowed between the owner of a Bahamian vessel and a secondary country that allows for dual registry. Therefore, vessels may operate under another flag in accordance with the bareboat charter requirements whilst maintaining registration under the Bahamian flag. The Bahamian registration will be deemed suspended for the duration of the bareboat or dual registration, although mortgages may continue to be recorded on the Bahamas Register, for the period of the charter.

Why Valsen Fiduciaries

  1. Speedy and Efficient Service
  2. Expert advice on structuring options
  3. Dedicated ongoing compliance support
  4. Clientele Priority
  5. Offers the best value of any country/jurisdiction in the World.