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Hong Kong Shipping Register User's Handbook
Section 1 - General
1.1      Introduction
1.2      Application for ship registration in Hong Kong
1.3      Key matters relating to registration of ships in Hong Kong
1.4      “Dual Registration “ not allowed
1.5      Appointment of a representative person
1.6      Types of ship registration
1.7      Forms
1.8      Fees
1.9      Annual Tonnage Charge (ATC) Reduction Scheme
1.10    Ship's name and marking
1.11    Colours (Flag) of a Hong Kong registered ship
1.12    Changes must be notified to the Registrar
1.13    Taxation of shipping profits
1.14    Preferential port dues
1.15    Consular assistance

1.1 Introduction

The autonomous Hong Kong Shipping Register was set up on 3 December 1990 under the Hong Kong Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance [https://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/publication/home.html]. Upon the reunification with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is authorized by the Government of the People's Republic of China to maintain a separate shipping register and issue certificates using the name "HONG KONG, CHINA."

1.2 Application for ship registration in Hong Kong
Tel : (852) 2852 4387
Fax : (852) 2541 8842
E-mail : hksr@mardep.gov.hk
Address : Hong Kong Shipping Registry
Marine Department
Room 302, 3/F, Harbour Building
38 Pier Road, Central
Hong Kong
Web : https://www.mardep.gov.hk
The normal office hour of the Hong Kong Shipping Registry , is from 8.30 a.m. to 5.45 p.m. (Monday to Friday) except Saturday , Sunday and public holidays.

In addition to the normal office hour, the Hong Kong Shipping Registry also provides 24-hour and 365-day (including public holidays) special service for ship/mortgage registration or ship de-registration upon the request from client. Request should be made at least one working day in advance. This special service outside normal office hours is chargeable in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Registration) (Fees and Charges) Regulations.

Special services could be arranged with Hong Kong Shipping Registry for receiving original title document and releasing original certificates through HKSAR’s overseas Economic and Trade Offices.

1.3 Key matters relating to registration of ships in Hong Kong

The registration of a ship on the Hong Kong Register of Ships is entirely on a voluntary basis. Once a ship is registered in Hong Kong :

  • the ship can enjoy the benefits in connection with flying Hong Kong flag;
  • the Government of HKSAR will exercise its jurisdiction over the ship;
the ship’s title and mortgage registered on the Hong Kong Register of Ships are binding under the Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance.

1.4 "Dual Registration" not allowed

A ship, at the time of registration, remains registered in a place outside Hong Kong; or subsequently becomes registered in a place outside Hong Kong will cease to be registrable. Ship registration outside Hong Kong includes "Owner Registration", "Bareboat Registration", "suspended Registration" or "Underlying Registration".

1.5 Appointment of a representative person

A representative person must be appointed for each Hong Kong registered ship. A representative person must be :

  • A qualified person and the owner or part owner of the ship; or
  • A body corporate incorporated in Hong Kong engaging in the business of managing, or acting as agent for, ships.
1.6 Types of ship registration

  • Owner Registration;
    The interest of a ship may be divided into any number of shares or parts. However, a majority interest in the ship shall be owned by one or more qualified persons, unless it is a Demise Charter Registration; A body corporate should register as an owner of the ship by its corporate name.

  • Demise Charter Registration
    A ship on demise charter (evident by a charter party by which a ship is let by demise and under which the demise charterer, within the charter period, has the possession of the ship and has the control of all matters relating to the navigation and operation of the ship including employment of the master and crew.) to a body corporate which is a Qualified Person (refer to Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance Sec. 11(4)) can be on full or provisional registration. However, no dual registration is allowed. The registration is valid for the period of the demise charter and any change to the owner or demise charterer may render the ship unregistrable.
Ship registration can be on Full Registration or provisional Registration. However, provisional registration is not a prerequisite for full registration. Provisional registry should be appropriate when the original title documents cannot be produced at the time of registration.
  • Certificate of Registry (with no expiry date) will be issued to ship on full registration.

  • Certificate of Provisional Registry with one month validity will be issued to ship on provisional registration. Original title document must be present to the registry within the validity period in order to change the ship to full registration.
1.7 Forms

All forms, such as application forms, and other specified forms for ship registration are obtainable free of charge from the Hong Kong Shipping Registry in Hong Kong or the office of the Marine Adviser (Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization in London) or can be downloaded from the Marine Department’s website - [https://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/forms/home.html] .

1.8 Fees

One off registration fee and annual tonnage charge are chargeable for ships registered with the Hong Kong Register of Ships (Details refer to Appendix 1). Beyond the registration fee and the annual tonnage fee only a few items for miscellaneous service are subject to charge. (Details refer to appendix 2)

1.9 Annual Tonnage Charge (ATC) Reduction Scheme

In order to encourage a long term and stable registration of a ship on the Hong Kong Register of Ships, an ATC reduction scheme is in place on 1 February 2006. In general, for every two years (the qualifying period) that a ship is continuously registered with the Hong Kong Register of Ships and provided that the ship has no detention record under any port State control (PSC) regime during such period, the registered owner of the ship will be able to enjoy a six-month ATC reduction for the following year.

1.10 Ship's name and marking

Under the Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance, a Hong Kong registered ship must have a name in English alphabetic characters which may include numerals, or may have in addition, a name in Chinese, in which case each shall be a separate name for the purpose of the Ordinance.

The ship's name in English or in English and Chinese must be marked on each side of the bow, and its name together with her port of registry (HONG KONG) must be marked on the stern.

1.11 Colours (Flag) of a Hong Kong registered ship

The proper colours (Flag) of a Hong Kong registered ship are the national flag of the People’s Republic of China flown directly above the regional flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Proper arrangement of the two flags can be found in the following url.

https://www.protocol.gov.hk/flags/eng/n_flag/spec.html
https://www.protocol.gov.hk/flags/eng/r_flag/spec.html

1.12 Changes must be notified to the Registrar

Any changes to the particulars of the ship, the Representative Person, the registered owner or the demise charterer (i.e. name, address, etc) must be notified in writing to the Registrar who will advise on the evidence to be produced for updating the register and for issuing a new Certificate of Registry.

1.13 Taxation of shipping profits

In accordance with the Inland Revenue Ordinance, income derived from the international operation of Hong Kong registered ships is exempted from the profits tax. Hong Kong has also entered into Bilateral Agreements (Reciprocal tax exemption (RTE), Avoidance of double taxation agreement (DTA) an Comprehensive DTA (CDTA) with 37 major trading partners.

  • DTA : Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and United States.
  • RTE : Chile, New Zealand and Republic of Korea.
  • CDTA : Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Czech, France, Guernsey, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, mainland China, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vietnam.

    Reference: https://www.hkmpb.gov.hk/en/competitive-tax-regime.html
1.14 Preferential port dues

Hong Kong registered ships can enjoy up to 29% preferential port dues in mainland China port since January 2000. Agreements with other countries having two-tier charging system are also expected for reduced port and light dues for Hong Kong registered ships calling their ports.

1.15 Consular assistance

Hong Kong registered ships are accorded with the necessary assistance from the Consulates of the People’s Republic of China when required.