The Law that governs merchant shipping in Nigeria is the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007 Nigeria enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The office for registration is the Nigerian Ship Registration Office, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), which was established by Section 28(2) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007.
In Nigeria, a ship cannot operate commercially in or from the waters of Nigeria unless the ship is a Registered Nigerian Ship, registered by law of another country and is by the law of that country exempted from registering in Nigeria; or unless the ship is a licensed Nigerian ship operating solely within the waters of Nigeria and where the ship is exempted from registration.
The Merchant Shipping Act provides that to be eligible to register a Nigerian Ship in Nigeria the applicant must be;
For registration, the Act provides that there shall be a Central Ship Registry for the registration and licensing of Ships in Nigeria.
Procedure and requirements for Registration
An application for the registration must be made formally in writing to the Registrar at a port of Registry in Nigeria subject to the approval of the Minister. The form for registration is available on the NIMASA’s website. The owner of the ship or agent will submit a formal letter of application attaching the following documents;
The applicant is also expected to provide details of its particulars when registering a Ship. These details should include the following;
Furthermore, the particulars of the ship must be provided for registration and the information to be provided for is as follows:
It is important to mention that, the Registry can refuse the Registration of a Ship submitted by the Applicant and the grounds upon such refusal may include the followings:
The Registrar upon the submission and compliance of the requirement shall enter into the register the name of the ship, particulars of the origin of the ship, name of builders and date the ship was built, particulars of ship operator, particulars of any mortgage, lien regarding the ship.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) places tariff charged for registration of a ship, and such tariff often subject to review and approval
Cost for the Registration of Ship in Nigeria
The official cost for the registration of ship on the initial registry in Nigeria is on items based on gross tonnage of Vessel, which is as follows:
Cancellation of Registration
Under the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the Registrar shall cancel the registration of a ship registered in Nigeria at any time the ship appears to be registered also in a foreign country; where the applicant ceases to comply with the requirements for qualification to own a ship under the Act and lastly where the ship appears to be broken, lost or abandoned.
The shipowner can also apply to cancel the registration of the ship but this cancellation must be supported with the following documents;
Renewal of Certificate of Registration
The registration of a ship is valid for five years, after which the ship-owner can apply for renewal of the vessel registration and the charges to be paid shall be half of the initial registration cost.
The application for renewal is supported by the following documents:
Eligible ships For Registration
The ships that are eligible for registration in Nigeria are:
However, it is important to know that in line with International Maritime Organization guidelines, only the double hull vessels can be registered with the NIMASA.
The ship registration in Nigeria is primarily handled by the NIMASA. However, the ships operating in Nigeria water territory may still be subjected to additional requirements by other maritime regulatory authorities in Nigeria such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Navy among a few others.
The documents listed above together with the requisite fees must be provided for the certificate of registration of a ship to be issued by the NIMASA.
By Shipping & Maritime Law Department at the Resolution Law Firm