The Hong Kong Shipping Register - an introduction

The Register is operated by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region through the Marine Department which has over 150 years of experience in ship registration, inspection and survey. A ship which complies with international standards for safety and protection of marine environment would be able to meet the requirements for registration in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Shipping Register offers you:

  • Readily available technical support and advice by highly qualified and responsive professional staff
  • One of the lowest tax regimes in the world
  • No profits tax levied on overseas trade
  • Double taxation relief arrangement with major trading partners
  • No nationality restrictions on manning
  • A clean, efficient and business friendly civil service
  • Excellent ship management, financial, communication, legal and other support facilities
  • An independent, well-established common law system
  • Gateway to the Mainland of China

Services Provided by the Hong Kong Shipping Register

  • Provisional and full registration
  • Registration of mortgages on full and provisional registration
  • Demise charter registration

A Ship is Registrable if

  • A majority interest in the ship is owned by one or more qualified persons, or operated under a demise charter by a corporation that is a qualified person
  • Not registered elsewhere
  • A representative person is appointed in relation to the ship


Charges are set primarily to recover operational costs. In this connection, a registration fee and an annual tonnage fee are levied for ships on the Register.


Income derived from the international operation of Hong Kong registered ships is exempted from profits tax. Hong Kong has also entered into double taxation relief agreements with countries or income derived from international operation of ships, and more countries are expected soon:

No. of Ships 624
Tonnage 12,576,126 grt
Age Limit No restriction.
Size Restrictions No restriction.
Ownership Requirements The majority interest in the ship must be owned by a qualified person i.e. a Hong Kong resident, a body corporate incorporated in Hong Kong or an overseas company registered with a place of business in Hong Kong. An authorised representative must also be appointed in Hong Kong. A ship must undergo a statutory survey to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations before registration.
Documents Required

A formal application must be made accompanied by the following documents:- 

  • application form; 
  • form of authority for making and signing applications and declarations; 
  • declaration of entitlement to own Hong Kong-registered ship; 
  • builder’s certificate for new ship or bill of sale; 
  • certificate or evidence of deletion from previous registry; original or certified true copy of certificate of incorporation or registration in Hong Kong or Hong Kong identity card of owner, as appropriate;
  • original or certified true copy of certificate of incorporation and memorandum of association of the representative person appointed in relation to the ship, where applicable; 
  • certificate of survey; 
  • certificate or declaration of marking of ship.
Registration Fees Initial Fee:- HK$3,500 for ships of up to 500 grt. HK$15,000 for ships over 500 grt. Annual Fee:- HK$1,500 for ships of up to 1,000 nrt with an additional HK$3.50 for each nrt between 1,001 - 15,000 plus an additional HK$3.00 for each nrt between 15,001 upwards subject to a maximum charge of HK$100,000.
Approved Classification Societies ABS, BV, CCS, DNV, LRS, GL, NKK.
Crew Nationality No specific requirements although Safe Manning Certificates are required.
Parallel Registration Not permitted although a ship on demise charter to a body corporate being a qualified person may be registered even if a majority interest in the ship is not owned by a qualified person, provided it is not also registered elsewhere.
Flag of Convenience No.
Principal IMO Conventions Adopted SOLAS, COLREG, STCW, INMARSAT, MARPOL, CLC, FUND, International Load Line Convention 1966, Tonnage Measurement of Ships 1969.
Type of Mortgage Mortgages are ranked in priority according to the date and time when they are presented and accepted for registration and not according to the date of the actual mortgage instrument. Mortgagees need not be qualified persons; foreign bodies corporate can be registered as mortgagees. A mortgage is executed under seal and witnessed. In case of a body corporate, it should also be in accordance with its article of association.
Mortgage Registration Fee HK$440.
Useful Addresses

Registrar of Ships
Marine Department
Harbour Building
38 Pier Road
GPO Box 4155
Tel: +852 2852 4383 Fax: +852 2541 8842 
Telex: 64553 MARHQ HX 

Registration may be refused if vessel is in an unsatisfactory condition.