Public services
  >The Hong Kong Shipping Register
Hong Kong Shipping Register User's Handbook
Section 1 - General
1.1      Introduction
1.2      Application for ship registration in Hong Kong
1.3      Definition of a ship
1.4      Key matters relating to registration of ships in Hong Kong
1.5      Registrable ship
1.6      Definition of a "qualified person"
1.7     Appointment of a representative person
1.8      Modes of ship registration
1.9      Types of registration
1.10    Forms
1.11    Fees
1.12    Annual Tonnage Charge (ATC) Reduction Scheme
1.13    Ship's name and marking
1.14    Colours of a registered ship
1.15    Changes must be notified to the Registrar
1.16    Taxation of shipping profits
1.17    Preferential port dues
1.18    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 []. 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 quot;HONG KONG, CHINA.quot;

1.2 Application for ship registration in Hong Kong
Address : Hong Kong Shipping Registry
Marine Department
Room 302, 3/F, Harbour Building
38 Pier Road, Central
Hong Kong
Web :
Tel : (852) 2852 4387
Fax : (852) 2541 8842
E-mail :
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 public holidays.

The Hong Kong Shipping Registry provides also 24-hour and 365-day (including public holidays) service for ship/mortgage registration or ship de-registration upon the receipt of special request from shipowners 24 hours in advance. This special service is chargeable in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Registration) (Fees and Charges) Regulations (

Receipt and transmission of documents are also available at HKSAR's overseas Economic and Trade Offices.

1.3 Definition of a Ship

A ship is a vessel capable of navigating in water not propelled by oars, including air-cushion vehicle.

1.4 Key matters relating to registration of ships in Hong Kong

The registration of a ship on the Hong Kong Shipping Register 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 must only be registered on the Hong Kong Shipping Register with legal binding under the Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance;
1.5 Registrable ships

A ship is registrable in Hong Kong when :

a majority interest in the ship is owned by one or more “qualified persons”, or operated under a demise charter (bare boat charter) by a corporation that is a "qualified person";
  • not registered elsewhere;
  • the vessel (G.N.4653 dated 16 September 2005) is not a
    (i) non self-propelled barge carrying petroleum products or dangerous goods of any substance which falls within the purview of the International Convention of Pollution from ships Annexes I, II or III;
    (ii) accommodation barge;
    (iii) fishing vessel;
    (iv) ship engaged in processing living resources of the sea, including whale and fish factories and aqua farming vessel;
    (v) specialised ship engaged in research, expeditions or survey;
    (vi) non-convention ship serving exclusively within the domestic waters of a country (other than Hong Kong and Mainland waters) and not proceeding to sea;
    (vii) ship propelled by nuclear energy;
    (viii) mobile offshore drilling unit.
  • a representative person is appointed in relation to the ship.
1.6 Definition of a "qualified person"

A qualified person must be
  • an individual who holds a valid Hong Kong Identity Card and who is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong; or
  • a body corporate incorporated in Hong Kong; or
  • a non-Hong Kong company registered in the Hong Kong Companies Registry ( under Part 16 of the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance.
1.7 Appointment of a representative person
  • A qualified person (paragraph 1.6) who is 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.
1.8 Modes of ship 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.
1.9 Types of registration

There are three types of registration, viz:
  • Full Registration;
  • Provisional Registration;
  • Demise Charter (Bare Boat Charter) Registration.
Sections 2 to 4 refer to the registration procedures.

1.10 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 -].

1.11 Fees

There is a registration fee and an annual tonnage fee for ships on the Register (Section 11). Only a few items for miscellaneous service are chargeable.

1.12 Annual Tonnage Charge (ATC) Reduction Scheme

In order to encourage a long term and stable registration of a ship on the Hong Kong Shipping Register, 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 Shipping Register 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.

Reference: Hong Kong Shipping Ordinance, the Regulation 4 “Annual tonnage charges” of Chapter 415A “MERCHANT SHIPPING (REGISTRATION) (FEES AND CHARGES) REGULATIONS”

1.13 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. A name may be reserved for a period of up to three years free of charge.

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

1.14 Colours of a registered ship

The proper colours 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.

1.15 Changes must be notified to the Registrar

Any changes to the particulars of the ship or the names and addresses of the registered owners or mortgagees must be notified in writing to the Registrar who will advise on the evidence to be produced and upon payment of the relevant fee(s), where applicable, will effect the changes on the Register and issue a new Certificate of Registry.

1.16 Taxation of shipping profits

In accordance with the Inland Revenue Ordinance, income derived from the international operation of Hong Kong registered ships is exempt from the profits tax. Hong Kong has also entered into bilateral agreements on double taxation relief agreement with 40 major trading partners for income derived from international operation of ships. (i.e.: Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation (DTA): Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, USA; Reciprocal tax exemption (RTE): Chile, Korea, New Zealand; Comprehensive DTA (CDTA): Austria Belgium Brunei Canada, Czech, France, Guernsey, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Mainland of China, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vietnam).

Reference: Merchant Shipping Information Note No. 11/2015, the Hong Kong Maritime Industry Council(MIC)website “Bilateral Agreements,” and the Inland Revenue Department website “Double Taxation Relief.”

In addition, double taxation relief arrangements with more trading partners are expected.

1.17 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.

Reference: “Announcement No.8, 2012 of the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China;” “Interim Regulation of the People's Republic of China on Vessel Tonnage Tax”. (Chinese Only)

1.18 Consular assistance

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

Reference: Merchant Shipping Information Note 43/2009