Yacht Registration and Tonnage Measurement

Yacht Registration and Tonnage Measurement

There are two ways to register your yacht with a Red Ensign (British Flag).

  • Part I which shows proof of ownership, for this a registered surveyor will need to carry out a tonnage measurement.
  • Part (III) a basic registration proving Nationality of the yacht, you can do this yourself online through the MCA

Tonnage Measurement

The actual tonnage measurement does not take long, there are three measurements; the Length (LOA), breadth and depth of the yacht plus the yacht and engine details need to be recorded.

Using the hull measurements there is a formula to calculate the tonnage.

Once the tonnage forms have been completed they are forwarded to the relevant certifying authority (CA) or directly to the flag state registrar.

Something to remember: The Tonnage of a yacht has nothing to do with its displacement (weight) but is a measure of the yachts internal volume

I am authorised to carry out tonnage measurement surveys for yachts of under 24 metres to be registered with the following flags.:

  • The Registry of Shipping and Seaman (UK Flag).
  • Isle of Man Registry
  • British Virgin Isles Registry
  • Cayman Islands Registry
  • Gibraltar Registry
  • Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey) Registry
  • By arrangement for the Irish Registry (under 15m)
  • St Martin
  • Cook Islands

The following registration procedure document was forwarded to me by the International Institute of Marine Surveying IIMS

1. Owners responsibilities.

a) To apply to the MCA/Registry of Seamen and Shipping in Cardiff for the following documentation:

  • Application to register a British ship (Form MSF4 740)
  • Declaration of Eligibility (Form MSF 4727 9/02).
  • He /she should also check the availability of the chosen name of the vessel.
  • Appoint a qualified surveyor to carry out the tonnage measurement.

b) On receipt and completion of the two forms (MSF4740 & 4727), the owner should return these to the RSS along with the applicable fee. Proof of ownership will also be required. This will be the as bill of sale (two concurrent bills if the vessel has had two or more previous owners) or the sales invoice and builders certificate if the vessel is new.

c) He/she should also pay the surveyor on instruction. Note that this payment forms two parts, the surveyors’ fee and the IIMS administration fee.

2. Surveyors responsibilities

  • To attend the vessel and complete the Tonnage Measurement form.
  • To submit the tonnage form to the IIMS, along with the applicable fee (If not paid direct to the IIMS by the client).
  • To advise the client that the survey and paperwork has been completed.

3. IIMS responsibilities.

  • To check tonnage certificate, take copy and to forward the original to the RSS ASAP.

The RSS currently has a backlog of several weeks, so it is worth noting that the certificate will not arrive over-night.

Be mindful that owner that purchases are often pending finance contracts which in turn often rely on Part One registration. The RSS (although part of) is not the DVLC and as the above path is more complex that registering a car.

Providing the surveyor has posted the tonnage certificate to the IIMS and the IIMS have sent the certificate to the RSS, the surveyor falls out of the loop. The responsibility lies with the owner to monitor and /or chase the paperwork process by speaking to the RSS (Or flag state office) direct.


“I am grateful to Joe for managing the entire survey process on my behalf, including lifting out and coordinating the survey with the owners. The survey and survey report were carried out in a detailed and professional manner. In short, Joe provided a thorough, professional and personal service, and I am pleased to recommend him.” John Hill