British Registration

Voluntary registration

There is no legal requirement to register, however the owner of a small vessel under a British flag has the option of two voluntary registration types:

  • Small ships register, known as SSR, officially British Registration Part III
  • Part I British Registration

Note that Part II is for fishing vessels and Part IV is for foreign owned vessels for British Charter.

The Small Ships Register

The Small Ships Register has a low cost, easily completed online application form available to British owners and is a requirement for international travel, acting a little like a passport for the vessel.

The SSR number is displayed on the vessel, a certificate is issued, and the certificate must be renewed every 5 years. The registration does not prove ownership, and is available for vessels of less than 24 metres in private ownership.

Previously administered by the RYA, then the DVLA, the administration is now conducted centrally by the Registrar General of Shipping in Cardiff.

Part I British Registration

Part I British Registration originated in the 16th Century and was administered by over 100 ports throughout the UK. Nowadays the administration is conducted centrally by the Registrar General of Shipping in Cardiff.

Part I Registration is a title register, a proof of ownership. For marine mortgages, these will be declared under Part I, and for vessels over 24 metres, or company owned vessels, Part I is the only option.

For Part I Registration, you will require a proof of ownership, a bill of sale for each change of owner, and a tonnage survey. Under 13.7 metres (45 ft), a simplified form is available.

The name of the vessel, together with the port of choice, must be clearly marked on the stern.

Prior to 1994, registration on Part I was valid indefinitely. However, this resulted in many thousands of ships that had ceased to exist or had been sold overseas remaining on the Register. Since 1994 Part I registration has been renewable every 5 years and those ships not renewed are removed from the Register. The new system also requires those boats registered before 1994 to renew their Registration.

A tonnage survey is not in fact a survey as such, but a measurement process and a calculation of “tonnage”. Please contact us for information, under the YDSA we are authorised to conduct Tonnage Measurement.