The Bahamas, known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an archipelagic state within the Lucayan Archipelago. It consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic); northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands; southeast of the US state of Florida and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The designation of “the Bahamas” can refer either to the country or to the larger island chain that it shares with the Turks and Caicos Island.
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 (“BMA”) 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. The Merchant Shipping Act provides a comprehensive scheme for the registration of vessels under the Bahamas flag and is aimed at encouraging the use of The Bahamas Registry by foreign ship owners.
Foreign-owned vessels may be registered in The Bahamas if they are less that 12 years old, at least 1,600 net registered tons (NRT) and engaged in foreign trade. If a ship is more than 12 years old and is under 1,600 NRT, special permission has to be obtained from the Minister responsible for Maritime Affairs for the ship to be registered on the Bahamas Register. Permission may be granted subject to a satisfactory inspection conducted by an authorized Bahamas inspector at the discretion of the Minister.
To start the registration process, the ship owner must complete and submit to the BMA, form R102 (Application to Register) providing the names and general details of the ship along with form R104 (Registration of Managing Owner) which provides the contact details of the managers responsible for the management of the ship, along with copies of the ship’s current class certificates.
Once all registration requirements are fulfilled, the vessel will be registered and the following Bahamas certificates and documents will be issued:
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