The Cayman Islands Shipping Registry (“CISR”) is a Category 1 British Registry, the highest possible ranking, and is authorised to certify all sizes and types of vessel. A ship registered in the Cayman Islands is a “British Ship” entitled to fly the red ensign flag and is afforded protection through the Royal Navy and its allies, together with access to an unparalleled diplomatic and consular network worldwide.

What types of registration are available?

The CISR caters to virtually all classes and sizes of vessel, from small yachts to supertankers and offshore drilling rigs to submersibles1.

The CISR offers five types of vessel registration – full, interim, provisional, under construction and demise (bareboat) charter. Prior to accepting any commercial vessel for registration, the CISR uses a ‘merchant ship flag-in matrix’ scoring system to ensure such commercial vessel meets the minimum required safety and operational standards.

Are there any ownership requirements?

For a ship to be registered in the Cayman Islands it must be owned (as to at least a majority) by a “qualified person”. The definition of a “qualified person” includes, amongst others, bodies corporate and shipping entities or foreign companies incorporated, established or registered in:

  • the United Kingdom or any of its Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies (including the Cayman Islands);
  • a Member State of the European Union or European Economic Area, including any overseas country, territory or dependency of such a Member State or
  • an “approved country”; which means those countries listed under the Third Schedule of the Cayman Islands Money Laundering Regulations (i.e. Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America) or any overseas country, territory or dependency of such “approved country”.

In cases where the vessel is owned by a person that is not resident in the Cayman Islands, or a body corporate that is not incorporated in, nor has its principal place of business in, the Cayman Islands, it must appoint a local “representative person” (being an individual resident in the Islands or a body corporate incorporated in the Islands and having a place of business there) in relation to the vessel.

1 As a matter of policy, fishing vessels are not currently registered unless they are owned and operated in the Cayman Islands.

Matthew Stocker

Partner, Head of Cayman Corporate Practice

Cayman Islands

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