All questions

Commercial overview of the shipping industry

According to information provided by the Chilean Maritime Authority,2 as at December 2019 there were 118 shipowners with approximately 259 Chile-flagged merchant ships.

The top five shipping companies in terms of tonnage are Naviera Ultranav Ltda, Compañía Marítima Chilena SA, Naviera Los Inmigrantes SA, CSAV Austral SA and Empresa Marítima SA (Empremar). To register a ship in Chile, the legal requirements are very demanding. Merchant vessels may be registered by Chilean nationals or citizens. If the owner is a corporation, it must meet the following requirements to be deemed Chilean:

  1. have its registered offices and true and effective headquarters in Chile;
  2. the president, manager and majority of directors or administrators, as the case may be, must be Chilean; and
  3. the majority of the equity capital must be owned by Chilean individuals or bodies corporate.

Special vessels may be registered in Chile by foreign natural persons as long as they are domiciled in the country and their main place of business is located locally (this rule does not apply to fishing vessels).

According to the Chilean Maritime Authority, the tonnage moved through Chilean ports in 2019 was 58,673,599 metric tonnes in export cargo and 55,589,316 metric tonnes in import cargo. Chile's seaports have connections with practically all the world's ports.

General overview of the legislative framework

The legislative framework is constructed from various regulations and laws, for which the main sources are as follows:

  1. Book III of the Chilean Code of Commerce, 'About Navigation and Maritime Trade' (Articles 823 to 1250), which includes general provisions and specific chapters on vessel ownership, liens, shipowners, masters, ship agents, navigation contracts, navigation risks, marine insurance and procedural issues;
  2. Navigation Law (Decree Law 2222/78);3
  3. Merchant Navy Law (Decree Law 3059/79);
  4. international conventions, such as the UN Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea 1978 (the Hamburg Rules), the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS), the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969, replaced by the 1992 Protocol (the CLC Convention); and
  5. regulations issued by the Chilean Maritime Authority.