A brief overview of boat registration in the UK.
The primary register for British ships is Part 1 of the Central Register of British Ships. Part 1 of the Register provides evidence of nationality, evidence of ownership, confers a unique name and registration number (Official Number) and offers the capacity to register marine mortgages. British citizens are eligible to register a vessel on Part 1 of the Register regardless of where they live or how much time they spend in the UK (owners who are not normally resident in the UK are required to appoint a representative person who is).
Part 3 of the Register (the Small Ships Register (SSR)) is only intended to provide evidence of nationality in order to enable the vessel’s skipper to demonstrate which flag state has responsibility for the vessel (particularly for the purposes of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982) when voyaging outside UK territorial waters. Part 3 of the Register was formed in 1993 to provide a cheap and simple means of demonstrating British nationality aimed at UK boaters wishing to undertake short foreign voyages from the UK.
What is the difference between Part 1 and Part 3?
The key differences between Parts 1 and 3 of the Register are set out on gov.uk. Part 3 of the Register was never intended to, and does not, offer the full functionality of Part 1 of the Register and hence Part 3 registration is significantly cheaper and simpler to obtain than Part 1 registration.
Anyone intending to spend a long period of time on their yacht away from the UK should consider registering their yacht on Part 1 of the Register before they leave the UK.
Detailed information regarding boat registration in the UK is available to RYA members in the Legal Advice section of the RYA website.
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