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Vessel Registration in Ireland

DATE: 14.07.2011

On 1 May 2008, the Minister for Transport, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., launched a public consultation document on the registration of vessels on the Irish flag.
The proposals have implications for many vessel owners, including owners who were not previously required to register their vessels. The objective of the new proposals is to establish a modern and comprehensive central system for the registration of vessels which will be electronically accessible and will facilitate compliance with national and international requirements regarding safety, living and working conditions and environmental issues.


Central register

Under the proposals there will be a national, single central register administered by the Irish Coast Guard and Maritime Administration as part of the Department of Transport. The thirteen ports of registry that currently exist will be retained for certain categories of vessels but only for carving and marking purposes.

Compulsory registration

It will be a requirement for all vessels to be registered if they wish to operate in Irish waters including inland waterways.  Vessels may be registered on the Irish Register or elsewhere.

Period of registration

Registration will be for a term of up to five years. There will be provisions for renewal of registration and, in order to facilitate vessels currently registered, arrangements will be made for their transfer to the relevant part of the new register for a period of up to five years free of charge.  


The Minister will ultimately have the power to make orders about the class of the ships that will be eligible for registration.  Only vessels that meet applicable standards under National, EU or International law in relation to safety, security and environmental protection (applicable at the time of registration) will be permitted to register. The Government, a Minister of the Government, a person of an EU Member State, Iceland or Norway established in the State (in accordance with Article 43 of the EEC Treaty), a non EU National residing in Ireland for five years or more or a body corporate of an EU Member State, Iceland or Norway established in the State (within Article 43 of the EEC Treaty) will be entitled to register on the Irish Register.

Categories of registration

Three main categories of vessels have been identified under the proposals. Vessels can only be registered under one category at any one time.  The categories are as follows:

Category A – this will be a full and detailed registration (ownership and mortgages) for commercial vessels including passenger ships, commercial vessels over 24 metres and new commercial vessels between 12 or 24 metres. This category of registration will also be open to other vessels which are seeking a full titled registration for example recreational vessels over 24 metres in length.

Category B – this category will be for the registration of fishing vessels. B1 will deal with full registration of fishing vessels.  B2 will be a simplified registration for vessels under 15 metres.

Category C – this will be for the registration of smaller vessels and pleasure craft. Like Category B, it will be divided into two subsections, C1 will deal with full registration for vessels that operate commercially and are under 24 metres in length and for vessels or pleasure craft which are under 24 metres and wish to operate outside the state on a non commercial basis. C2 will provide a simple registration process for pleasure vessels less than 24 metres in length.

Vessels that are less than seven metres in length will not be required to be registered unless they are fitted with an engine with power greater than 20K watt. These are the only vessels that will be exempt from registration.

Visitor registration

Under the proposals there will be a requirement for a visitor registration for unregistered vessels using Irish waters (including inland waterways) for short periods of time eg. holidays or sporting events. Failure to register may result in detention.

Carvings and markings and flags

Under the proposals, there will be a requirement for all registered vessels in Irish waters, including inland waterways, whether operating commercially or non commercially, to display the national colours of the state with which they are registered.  Irish registered vessels will therefore be required to display the Irish flag. Each registered vessel will also have to comply with carving and marking requirements for their category of vessel.

Bareboat chartering

Bareboat chartering in and out of the state will not be registerable.

New buildings/ Temporary registration

Temporary registration will be available for a person eligible to register on the Irish registry purchasing a vessel at a port outside of the State. Newbuilds may be registered on a temporary basis to allow for issuance of statutory certificates whilst under construction. 


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