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

Norway maintains the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register (NOR) and the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS).

Norwegian ships that are 15 metres or longer can be registered in the NOR or NIS if they are not registered in another country’s ship register. The Norwegian registers do not permit bareboat registration.

A ship is regarded as being Norwegian if it is owned by:

  • a Norwegian citizen;
  • a partnership in which 60% of the members are Norwegian citizens; or
  • a limited liability company with its main office in Norway where:
    • the majority of directors, including the chair, are Norwegian citizens domiciled in Norway; and
    • 60% of the shares and votes are held by Norwegian citizens.

However, any individual, company or activity covered by the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement will be considered to be Norwegian under the agreement’s nationality requirements, provided that – in the case of a company or an activity – such company or activity:

  • was established in accordance with the relevant rules;
  • has its place of business in an EEA country; and
  • has a majority of directors, including the chair, who are citizens of and domiciled in that EEA country.

There is an additional condition for EEA individuals, companies and activities, whereby the ship must undertake an economic activity based in Norway and be operated from Norway.

A ship which does not comply with these nationality requirements can be registered in the NIS if:

  • the shipowner appoints an agent for service of process that is domiciled in Norway; and
  • the ship is managed by a ship management company whose main office is in Norway.

Ships registered in the NIS are subject to Norwegian legislation, although there are specific exemptions for wages and working conditions. These are regulated by collective agreements, which must expressly refer to working on board NIS-registered ships and entitle Norwegian trade unions to participate in negotiations.

As opposed to the NOR, there are trading restrictions on ships registered in the NIS, which are not permitted to:

  • carry cargo or passengers between Norwegian ports; or
  • service passenger lines between Norwegian and foreign ports.

An offshore oil and gas installation on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is regarded as a Norwegian port. As of 2016, these trading restrictions were relaxed somewhat.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

A registration application must be filed with the NOR or NIS registrar, as applicable, in advance, although certain documents will be available only on delivery. It is always advisable to have documents pre-approved.

Before delivery, the applicant must provide the registrar with:

  • the certificate of the ship’s name;
  • proof of the shipowner;
  • a completed registration application;
  • proof of the appointment of a processing agent;
  • the ship’s management agreement;
  • declarations of nationality for the shipowner, manager and processing agent;
  • the ship’s tonnage certificate;
  • the ship’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea certificate;
  • International Safety Management and Continuous Synopsis Record forms;
  • a bank guarantee for the payment of employees’ wages and their return journey; and
  • information to enable the calculation of registration and annual fees.

On closing, the registrar requires a notarised and apostilled bill of sale and a certificate of the ship’s deletion from its former register.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

Applications can be refused if they fail to comply in form or substance with the registration requirements. In most circumstances, the registrar will communicate with applicants before refusing applications and inform them of errors or omissions so that they can remedy the situation.


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

Norway has a long tradition of being a shipping nation with a well-developed reputable maritime administration that manages the NOR and the NIS. Ships flying the Norwegian flag enjoy the support of this administration with a high level of service, including consular services in 164 countries.

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