UK Pleasure Yacht Registration

uk pleasure yacht registration banner

Being one of the most admired and well-known emblems on the high seas, the flag of the British Merchant Navy, known as the Red Ensign or the Red Duster, manifests a reputation for maintaining the highest international standards.

Established by an act of King George III in 1785 and nowadays being part of the British Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the UK Ship Register consistently strives for excellence ensuring, on one hand, that the Red Ensign keeps being attractive, whilst securing that its vessels fully comply with flag state obligations without major disruptions and expenses to the owners.

Bringing together a reliable and cost-effective legislation and procedures, the UK flag hovers amongst the best-performing flags in the major Port State Control regimes. The UK flag holds an international reputation for expert advice and guidance with a proactive leading role at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), EU and Quality Shipping Committees.

It provides for a 24/7 vessel and mortgage premium registration services, a 24/7 dedicated customer services and duty surveyors which assist clients before, throughout and after registration. Yet, registration, survey and certification costs are between the lowest available with no annual renewal fees, as the validity period of the registration of pleasure vessels is 5 years. Vessles flying the British Red Ensign enjoy consular assistance and Royal Naval Protection (dependent on availability of assets and/or nature of the threat).

Such a structure not only ensures a smooth and effortless registration process but also builds a long-term relationship upon which the clients` needs and the expectations of a quality flag are met.

Country Highlights

FLAG: British Red Ensign 7th largest in the world PRESTIGE: The oldest and most prestigious shipping register
REGISTRATION VALIDITY: 5 years                      TONNAGE REGISTERED: British Red Ensign fleet 50 million+
ACCESSIBILITY & EMERGENCY: 24 hours registry and dedicated customer services  SAFETY & SECURITY: Consular assistance and Royal Naval Protection



Legal Basis

Vessel registration in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as amended, and the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Regulations 1993, as amended.

The UK Ship Register is divided into four parts:

  • Part I - the traditional Register of British Ships;
  • Part II - Register of Fishing Vessels;
  • Part III - Small Ships Register (SSR); and
  • Part IV - Register of Ships bareboat chartered-in by British charterers.

Pleasure yachts are eligible to register on either Part I or Part III, which have different eligibility criteria and requirements. Whereas the Part III (Small Ship Register) is designed for owners who only aim to prove the nationality of their yacht when sailing outside UK territorial waters, providing a simple form of non-title registration, Part I (UK Ship Register) operates as fully public register providing a legal title to the vessel, proof of ownership and record details of any mortgages on the yacht, and from which any person can obtain a transcript of its entries.


  • 24/7 Registry Service
  • Consular Assistance and Royal Naval Protection
  • International Prestige and Reputation
  • Low Registration Costs
  • No Annual Renewal Fees


The following mainly qualify to register a pleasure yacht in the UK under Part I:

  • British citizens, British Dependant Territories citizens, British Overseas citizens;
  • EU citizens on the basis of the freedom of movement and establishment principles;
  • bodies corporate incorporated in a EEA State;
  • bodies corporate incorporated in any relevant British possession and having their principal place of business in the United Kingdom or in any such possession; and
  • European Economic Interest Groupings registered in the United Kingdom

In those cases where qualifying registrants are not resident in the UK, a resident representative must be appointed.

  • in case of the Small Ships Register (Part III), the same qualifying factors apply, except that only natural persons may register a yacht. Additionally: Commonwealth citizens can also apply for registration under Part III;
  • the yacht must be less than 24 metres long; and
  • the owner of the yacht must also be ordinarily resident in the UK, that is, must live in the UK for at least 185 days in any 12-month period.

Process & Timeline

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Key Contacts

Dr Charlene Mifsud

Partner, Corporate & Commercial

+356 2205 6298

Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

Senior Partner, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056111

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

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