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Vessels operating domestically in Antigua and Barbuda waters can also be registered. The process of registry is simple and fast.

The requirements for registry are common to all vessel types.   The full details are in the Merchant Shipping Act  but in summary a vessel may be registered in Antigua and Barbuda  if the owner is either:

  • A Citizen of Antigua and Barbuda or of a Member State of the Caribbean Community or the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
  • A legal corporate body in Antigua and Barbuda,
  • A corporation registered under the International Business Corporation Act,
  • A corporate body or a partnership concern registered elsewhere which is registered under the Companies Act.

A public body is authorised if it is established under and subject to the laws of Antigua and Barbuda and has its principle place of business in Antigua and Barbuda, or appoints a resident agent in Antigua and Barbuda and has at least 51% of its share capital held by citizens of Antigua and Barbuda while the majority of Directors are citizens.

Creating an IBC (International Business Company) under the International Business Corporation Act  or registering an external company are the two easiest and simplest ways for international shipping companies to meet the ownership requirements.  There are a number of companies locally in Antigua who can assist in arranging this and in setting up bareboat charter companies in Antigua for vessels registered as chartered bareboats.

Because such vessels are inherently operating commercially, they require to meet certain standards of safety and be appropriately certificated.


The procedure for registry of a domestic vessel is very simple and merely requires submission of a small set of key documents.  These are:

  • Proof of ownership, which may be a Bill of sale, or a paid receipt for new boats.
  • Certificate of deletion from  the previous registry if there is one,
  • Proof of eligibility which may be a copy of a passport for CARICOM nationals, or a copy of the certificate of Incorporation for corporate entities.
  • Certificate of continued good standing for corporate entities over 1 year old.

Where documents are submitted by post they need to be notarised copies but where the registry is transacted in person at the Antigua and Barbuda registry offices we will make copies of original documents here.

Because a commercial vessel is required to meet a set of safety standards the full registry cannot be processed until the vessel is confirmed as meeting the requisite standards.  During the period between application for registry and confirmation that the vessel meets the standards she can be provisionally registered but she may not operate commercially until the safety certification is issued.

Survey for compliance with the standards can be easily arranged through the St. John’s office and the process can be completed quickly.


There are two standards that can be applied for domestic commercial vessels:

  • The Small Commercial Vessel Code (SCV Code) for vessel up to 24 metres in length and operating with up to 150 passengers.  Or
  • The Workboat Code for vessels up to 24 metres in length and operating commercially with up to 12 passengers.

Depending on the nature of operations the administration will apply the correct Code and once inspected and found to comply with the Code the vessel can be issued with the appropriate certificate by the St. John’s office.

The administration publishes Circulars from time to time which set out the Antigua and Barbuda interpretations of various international and national requirements and which highlight new requirements arising from changes to conventions and other regulations.  The Circulars are available on this website and form a statement of Antigua and Barbuda policy on various areas.