SHIP REGISTRATION SERVICES UNDER THE BELIZE ADMINISTRATION:
The International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, commonly known by its acronym of IMMARBE, is a department within the Attorney General’s Ministry, established under Section 3 of the Registration of Merchant Ships Act of 1989 as an open shipping Registry with the intention of offering to the ship owners and operators of the world a very serious and efficient shipping registry based on a fast and reliable service, competitive prices and high standards of maritime safety.
On the 8th of October 2008, Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co. was officially appointed by the Registrar of Merchant Shipping of the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize by virtue of the powers vested by section 4 (2) of the Registration of Merchant Ships Act, Chapter 236 of the Laws of Belize 2000-2003.
Mr. Christodoulos Vassiliades was appointed as Deputy Registrar of Merchant Shipping to facilitate the operations of the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) in Cyprus, with full powers and authority to act in that capacity in accordance with the provisions of the said Act and regulations.
In addition, Mr. Christodoulos Vassiliades had also been granted the consular status in order to facilitate business and operations. The consular status provides tremendous help in dealing with matters such as taxation, bank accounts and transfers of monies out of the country as well as to facilitate the exchange of local currency to U.S. Dollars.
Subsequently, on June 30th, 2011, Mr. Christodoulos Vassiliades, Director of Interconsult (Belize) Limited was also approved by IMMARBE for the purpose of acting as a authorized Shipping Agent in Belize to be appointed by the ship owner in compliance with Section 38 (1) of the Merchant Ships (Registration) Act, enacted into law on the 1st November 2010.
Listing of Ship Registration Services provided by IMMARBE:
1. Provisional Registration of Vessels (valid for six months)
2. Permanent Registration of Vessels (validity indefinite)
3. Dual Charter-In Registrations
4. Dual Charter-Out Registrations
5. Special Registration for delivery voyages or for scrapping purposes
6. Registration of vessels under construction
7. Extension of provisional status
8. Provisional Certificates reflecting Transfers of Ownership
9. Provisional/Permanent Certificates reflecting change in vessel’s particulars or Owner’s Address
10. Reservation of Name
11. Certificate of Liens & Encumbrance
12. Permission to Transfer Certificates
13. Permission to Sell Certificates
14. Certificates of Good Standing
15. Preliminary Registration of Ownership Titles
16. Permanent Registration of Ownership Titles
17. Preliminary Registration of Naval Mortgages
18. Permanent Registration of Naval Mortgages
19. Preliminary Registration of Mortgage Addendums
20. Permanent Registration of Mortgage Addendums
21. Preliminary Registration of Mortgage Amendments
22. Permanent Registration of Mortgage Amendments
23. Preliminary Registration of Discharge of Mortgage
24. Permanent Registration of Discharge of Mortgages
25. Deletion Certificates
26. Continuous Synopsis Record
27. Bareboat Charter-Out Consent Letters
28. Civil Liability Certificates
29. Certificates of Registration
30. Ex-Officio cancellation Certification for vessels which have been struck-off from the Belize Registry
31. Certification for the cancellation of a Dual–Charter in Registrations
32. Certificates of Vessel Search
33. Certification Letters as may be required from time to time addressing a special requests.
34. Bunker Certificates
35. Minimum Safe Manning Certificates (vessel’s crew compliment)
37. Equivalent Arrangement Certificate
38. Exemption Certificates
39. Permits to Proceed
40. Fitness to Proceed (for special registration under tow)
41. Reconciliation of Tonnage Certificate
44. Waiver of Requirements
45. Authorization to carry Industrial Personnel
46. High Seas Fishing license
47. Statistical Document issued for Fishing Vessels
48. Certificates of Origin issued for Fishing Vessels
49. Catch Certificates
50. Euro 1 Certificates (tax exemption for fish products)
51. Endorsement for Officers
52. Endorsements for Ratings
53. Endorsements for Specialized Training (applicable to oil tankers only)
54. CRA’s (Certificate of Receipt of Application for Special Registrations)
VESSELS UNDER CONSTRUCTION:
Vessels under construction may be registered at IMMARBE following the same procedure for general registration, but in such instances charges other than the registration fees are levied until the vessel is ready to sail. Mortgages and liens can be recorded upon vessels under construction already registered.Vessels under construction may be registered at IMMARBE following the same procedure for normal registration, but in such cases, charges other than registration fees has to be waived until the vessel is ready to start operating.
IMMARBE accepts vessels to be registered on short-term conditions under special circumstances, such as one delivery voyage, scrapping purposes, or other lawful conditions. Procedures for this special registration allows for documents to be issued with a validity of three months which automatically expire when this period elapses.
The status that is granted by this special registration does not entitle the vessel to obtain a deletion certificate. There are special cases however where owners are able to comply with all the documentary requirements for the issuance of a Deletion certificate.
Vessels registered at IMMARBE may obtain a second registration in another country’s registry without affecting their status in Belize. For the purpose of registering in a second country the applicant shall submit a formal application giving full details of the Charter party Contract. If satisfied that all formalities have been complied with, the Head Office may issue a written approval for the vessel’s dual registration for a period of up to two years in the first instance.
During the period of the dual registration, the vessel shall maintain its status updated and shall continue paying all relevant annual fees and dues to IMMARBE. The title deed or any mortgage document thereon shall be recorded at IMMARBE.
Foreign registered vessels may be registered at IMMARBE under the terms of a charter party contract. Designated Offices, upon approval from the Head Office and payment of relevant fees, can issue a special navigation patent and radio license valid up to two years, which can be renewed for like periods provided that the Charter agreement is still in effect. As part of the requirements, the written consent from the original Registry must be submitted together with a copy of the charter contract.
During the period of second registration in Belize, no title deed, mortgage or documents thereto may be registered at IMMARBE. Such documents must be registered at the place of original registration.
The registration of fishing vessels is additionally subject to the provisions of the High Seas Fishing Act, 2003. The requirements include the completion of an Application form for a License to Fish on the High Seas as well as the installation of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) utilizing INMARSAT C or INMARSAT Mini C or INMARSAT D+.
Fishing vessels which land their catch at ports of member States of the European Union are required to pass a special sanitary inspection in compliance with the relevant EU/EC Directives. Fishing vessels are also subject to the international and regional regulations applicable to the area of fishing which are implemented by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) such as ICCAT, as well as by bilateral or multilateral agreements for the protection of certain areas or endangered marine species. Currently, Belize is:
• A Contracting Party of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
• A Contracting Party of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
• A Cooperating Non-Contracting Party of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATC). It will become a Contracting Party latest by when the IATTC “Antigua Convention” comes into force which is expected to be in 2010.
• A Cooperating Non-Member of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) All Belize registered vessels which are licensed to target tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention areas of the abovementioned Commissions are listed in their respective Regional Vessel Registers.
With effect from 1st March 2005, the age limit guideline for new Registrations was reduced from 30 years to 25 years for all vessels except yachts, fishing vessels, non-propelled barges, special registrations and new registrations which are immediately chartered out. At the discretion of the Registry, the age limit of 25 years may be exceeded in exceptional
circumstances based on the vessel’s detention record, the ship owner/operator’s record, the area of intended operation, the intended trade, and provided it is classed and certified by an IACS Recognized Organization.
WHAT VESSELS CAN BE REGISTERED?
The Registry of Belize is open for any vessel or boat of any type, class, size or material used for navigation and engaged in any kind of trade, service or international maritime activity including, but not limited to Dry Cargo vessels, tankers, passenger vessels, Ferries, Oil Rigs, Supply Boats, Crew Boats, Barges, Stationary storage vessels, non self propelled vessels, Fishing vessels, submarine and Yachts or Pleasure Boats.
There is no minimum tonnage requirement for registering vessels under the Belize Flag, however, in an effort to reduce the average age of our merchant fleet, IMMARBE reserves the right to refuse any vessel over 25years.
The cost of the registry and yearly taxes are quite competitive as compared to other registries. It is also possible to obtain significant discounts for multiple registrations or very large tonnage vessels.
OWNERSHIP OF THE VESSELS:
Any person of the age of maturity of any nationality, or a body corporate whether established in Belize or elsewhere may be registered as owner of a Belizean Ship. There are no restrictions whatsoever with regard to the nationality of the owners of Belizean Flag Vessels, neither any restriction in relation to the kind of information of the owning body corporate. Corporations owned totally or partially by another corporation may own vessels under the Belizean Flag.
Any number of persons or body corporates or any combination thereof may be registered as joint owners of a ship. Although there are no restrictions in regard to the owners, Designated offices are requested to promote and recommend the use of Belizean’s International Business Companies due to the fact that they are convenient and easy to work for ship owning activities.
Every Belize Ship must be in a possession of a valid Minimum Safe Manning Certificate, which is issued by IMMARBE in accordance with the IMO Regulations. This Certificate specifies the minimum number and composition the vessel shall have on board.
The issuance of the MSM Certificate is guided by Resolution A.481 (XII) of the International Maritime Organization. Owners may seek for a reduced manning scale where their ships are designed and constructed with unattended machinery space, or are provided with any other automated machinery or remote controls, or trading in special areas. Any special request must be indicated on the application form for IMMARBE’s Head Office evaluation.
Endorsement Certificates / Seafarer ’s Identification Documents:
The procedures for issuance of seamen’s identification books and documents by IMMARBE is presently based on equivalence, requiring evidence that the applicant is in possession of an appropriate, recognized and valid certificate from any other recognized country. As a signatory to the STCW convention, IMMARBE has to ensure full compliance of the requirements of the said convention and its amendments.
INSPECTION OF VESSELS:
All vessels registered are subject to a safety inspection in order to ensure compliance of the national and international regulations, and for this purpose an inspection fee is included in the taxes collected for each vessel. The inspection program contemplates a regular annual safety inspection, but the Administration may offer a re-inspection or a special inspection when considered necessary.
Only inspectors authorized by IMMARBE for these purposes, who are paid directly by IMMARBE’s Head Office can perform the safety inspections. Every inspection has to be coordinated on a “case by case basis” with the Head Office.
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