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Which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships?

Traditionally, non-Danish shipowners have been unable to register vessels on Danish ship registers. This was partially altered pursuant to Section 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act, which stipulates that vessels owned by an EU or EEC natural or legal person encompassed under the EU regulations on freedom of movement may be registered in a Danish register. The provision is supplemented by Executive Order 1132/2013, which allows non-Danish companies to register vessels on the Ship Register, the Danish International Ship Register or the Boat Register.

Pursuant to the executive order, vessel owners which do not satisfy the nationality requirements set out in Section 1 of the Merchant Shipping Act must satisfy the establishment and activity criteria.

The establishment criterion requires non-Danish companies to be established in Denmark, whereas the activity criterion (see Section 3 of the executive order) requires the appointment of an agent who must effectively manage, control and direct the vessel.

EU or EEC legal persons owning merchant ships can satisfy the establishment criteria by, among other things, appointing a natural or legal person in Denmark, to whom the authorities can confer with in order to exercise control and a writ of summons can be served. The activity criterion can be satisfied by, among other things, appointing a physical or legal person in Denmark (see Sections 7(2), 4(2) and 4(3) of the executive order).

Non-EU or EEC legal persons can satisfy the establishment criterion by, among other things, secondary establishment (ie, in the form of a subsidiary, branch office or agency) (see Sections 2(2)(b) and 8(1) of the executive order). The activity criterion must be satisfied by the same legal person that satisfies the establishment criterion (see Section 8(2) of the executive order).

Further, a Danish shipowner can temporarily register a foreign-registered vessel chartered on bareboat terms in one of the Danish registers.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

Pursuant to Section 2 of the executive order, a request to register a ship in the Ship Register or the Boat Register must be made to the Danish Maritime Authority on a special form (available online on the Danish Maritime Authority’s website). The request must include information on the vessel and its owner. Pursuant to Section 14 of the Merchant Shipping Act, the request must:

  • evidence ownership of the vessel; and
  • meet the requirements on Danish, EU or EEC nationality pursuant to Section 2.

The requirement to provide evidence of ownership with regard to newbuildings completed at a foreign shipyard is usually satisfied in the form of a builders’ certificate confirming the passage of title to the shipowner. Apart from newbuildings, a bill of sale may be used. The Maritime Authority requires all foreign documents to be certified by a notary.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

The national authority may refuse an application which does not meet the formal requirements set out in the law or executive order.


Are there any particular advantages of flying your jurisdiction’s flag?

Denmark has one of the world’s leading shipping industries, despite the country’s relatively small population. The Danish flag is characterised by high quality standards and can provide many competitive advantages compared to other flag states. Denmark is on the Paris Memorandum of Understanding White List, the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding White List and the United States Coast Guard Qualship 21. Flying the Danish flag thus entails fewer port state controls. 

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