Legislation & Directives

The laws relating to Small Craft in Antigua and Barbuda are divided into two main areas, distinguished by the nature of the respective operation:

Small commercially used vessels are regulated mainly through the Merchant Shipping Regulations 2008 (Small Commercial Vessel Regulations), which make reference to the Small Commercial Vessel Code (SCV-Code), made in exercise of the powers contained in section 7 of the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping Act 2006.

Small craft used for pleasure purposes only are regulated mainly through the Small Craft (Control) Regulations 2017, made in exercise of the powers contained in section 6 of the Small Craft Control Act 2015, No. 14 of 2015.

In addition to these general regulations, ADOMS did establish some directives in certain safety related areas, precising and outlining the application of the former. These directives an integral part of Antigua and Barbuda Law and need to be adhered to as well.

E.g. the directive No. 003, dating the 1st of June 2013 established the definition of Safe Haven for vessels operating under the SCV-Code and the limits determined for Protected Waters and Coastal Waters by ADOMS.  Additionally the Directive contains a general exemption for certain vessels operating in protected waters only during daylight, from the requirements of the carriage of liferafts and/or buoyant apparatus, subject to certain conditions.

Find all respective law – as amended – below.

For overall Antigua and Barbuda Maritime legislation, please see here.


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Code of Safety for Small Commercial Vessels – SCV Code 2017

This is the 2017 version of the Small Commercial Vessel Code that applies to vessels operating commercially, trading in the Caribbean Trading Area (which includes Antigua and Barbuda waters), which are 5 metres or more in length overall and less than 24 metres in length (L) and which, if carrying more than 12 passengers, operate within 20 miles of the nearest harbour or safe refuge, carry not more than 150 passengers and where overnight accommodation is provided, not more than 50 passengers overnight.

The Code has been updated and rearranged to take into account legislative changes that have occurred in recent years and also operational experience that has been gained with the application of the 2014 version of the code.


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The Shipping (Small Commercial Vessels) Regulations 2008

These regulations apply the Caribbean Small Commercial Vessels Code to vessels operating in Antigua and Barbuda and less than 24 metres in length and to Antigua and Barbuda  registered commercial vessels of less than 24 metres operating on international voyages in the Caribbean area.


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The Small Craft (Control) Regulations 2017

These regulations apply to small craft licensed in Antigua and Barbuda , or operating within Antigua and Barbuda waters, irrespective of whether the small craft is also licensed or registered under any other law in Antigua and Barbuda.


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The Small Craft Act, 2015

This Act applies to small pleasure craft operating in Antigua and Barbuda waters and the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services (ADOMS) is responsible for Registration, Licensing and Regulation.It includes private/pleasure operations on inland waters and coastal and also commercial operations

Small craft are defined as all vessels less than 24 metres in length and includes boats, canoes, dinghies, kayaks, pontoons and jet skis/personal water craft.