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Which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships?
Ships eligible for registration in the national shipping register include:
- fishing vessels;
- floating production storage and offloading, and floating storage and offloading;
- licensed ships weighing under 15 gross tons;
- merchant ships;
- ships licensed to operate in coastal and inland waters of Nigeria;
- ships weighing 15 gross tons or more;
- ships owned by Nigerian citizens or Nigerian registered bodies corporate;
- ships on bareboat charters and other charters exceeding 12 months; and
- ships under construction.
Parties that may register ships include:
- corporations in their own name;
- joint owners (not exceeding five persons); and
- other parties approved by the minister of transport.
What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?
Individuals, joint owners and corporations (through their agent) must submit a written application to the minister at a Nigerian port of registry. Before or on application, the ship must be surveyed and its tonnage ascertained; the ship must also be adequately marked in line with the Merchant Shipping Act.
The surveyor will accordingly issue a certificate of tonnage. To be registered as the shipowner, the individual or corporation must make a declaration referring to the ship as described in the tonnage certificate.
The applicant must submit the following information and documents:
- the name of the ship, the time and place of its purchase, the name of the master, particulars of the tonnage, build and description of the ship, the bill of sale or builder’s certificate (ie, evidence of title), the condition survey report and tonnage measurement certificate as approved by the minister, the ship’s certificate of carving and marking note, the call sign certificate, the load line certificate, evidence of insurance or protection and indemnity coverage, the pre-purchase survey report and the deletion certificate (if the vessel is flagging in from a foreign flag);
- details of the ship purchaser(s), including full names, addresses and occupations;
- evidence that the purchaser is sufficiently experienced to control and maintain the vessel;
- where the ship is newly constructed, the builder’s certificate and certificate of approved plan issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (in respect of Nigerian-built ships);
- bank statements or reference letters as evidence of sufficient finances for vessel operation and upkeep;
- receipt of payment of prescribed registration fees;
- the ship’s logbook;
- where the applicant is a company, a copy of the shareholding structure reflecting ownership, the certificate of incorporation, the tax clearance certificate, particulars of directors and the memorandum and articles of association; and
- where the ship was previously registered, the bill of sale and seller’s warranty against encumbrances.
Grounds for refusal
On what grounds may a registration application be refused?
The application may be refused on the following grounds:
- failure to get the ship surveyed and have its tonnage ascertained;
- failure to produce the required documents for registration;
- if the name proposed for registration is already registered or calculated to deceive or offend the public interest; and
- non-compliance with the mandatory registration requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act.
Are there any particular advantages of flying your jurisdiction’s flag?
The advantages of flying Nigeria’s flag are as follows:
- Qualification to participate in supplying services for coastal and inland shipping (ie, cabotage trade) – cabotage trade is reserved for Nigerian-flagged ships which are built and crewed by Nigerians. Even where a vessel is not built in Nigeria or crewed or managed by Nigerians, it may still qualify for cabotage ahead of other vessels if flying the Nigerian flag.
- The ship will acquire a high rating/classification to provide shipping services for specified contracts in the oil and gas industry under the Nigerian local content policy, which aims to increase the capacity of Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry.
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