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

Generally, only vessels above 10 gross tonnage must be registered. The natural or legal person owning such a vessel must be a UAE national. If the vessel is jointly owned, all owners must be UAE nationals. If the vessel is owned by a UAE limited liability company, 51% of the capital most be owned by UAE nationals and all directors must be UAE nationals. However, pleasure boats may be owned by foreign nationals resident in the United Arab Emirates, provided that they are not used for commercial purposes.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

The Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime administers UAE flag registration. Commercial vessels and leisure boats chartered for commercial purposes can be registered with the Federal Transport Authority.

The requirements for vessel registration depend on the type of vessel. The documentary requirements to register a commercial vessel include:

  • an application form containing:
    • the vessel’s name;
    • the vessel’s former names and last port of registration;
    • the vessel’s date and place of construction, including the name and address of the factory or dock;
    • the vessel’s type, tonnage and dimensions;
    • the mortgage, if any, with the date thereof; and
    • the name, surname, occupation, nationality and place of residence of the mortgagee creditor;
  • an original deletion certificate if the boat was previously registered under another flag. This should also be attested by the relevant UAE embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • a copy of the company’s trade licence. Over 51% of the company should be locally owned and it should conduct marine activity (ie, be a ship operator or manager); and
  • a copy of the power of attorney of the company’s signatory.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

Registration can be refused due to age restrictions. For example, oil and gas tankers cannot be over 10 years’ old at the time of registration, unless specially approved by the registration authority.


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

Unless they fly the UAE flag, vessels cannot engage in:

  • coastal navigation between state ports;
  • towage and piloting in state ports; or
  • fishing or cruising in UAE territorial waters.

Further, foreign vessels are allowed in UAE territorial waters only for 21 days, which can be extended on application to the Federal Transport Authority.

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