Tides &
Arrivals &

Small Ship Register

Registry of British Ships

Guidance notes

1. What is the Small Ship Register ?

The Small Ship Register (SSR) provides a cheap and simple alternative to full registration under Part I of the British Register. The Certificate of British Registration provided gives evidence of the British nationality of the vessel when it is in foreign territorial waters.

A Small Ship Registration Certificate may not be accepted in some foreign ports if you are using your ship for 'commercial purposes' e.g. diving or chartering. The register does not enable ownership of a vessel to be established nor can marine mortgages be recorded.

Please download the form below and post it or drop it in to the Registry. You should complete this form with as much detail as possible.

pdf icon SSR Application Form 2022 [309kb]

2. What is a small ship ?

A small ship is one which is less than 24 metres (78.7 feet) in overall length)

The following ships cannot be registered on the SSR:

3. Who may register a small ship ?

A small ship may be registered if it is owned by one or more of the following persons who are ordinarily resident in the Bailiwick of Guernsey:

If you are in any doubt about your own citizenship or that of any other owner of the ship please obtain advice from the Guernsey Border Agency.

4. What does 'ordinarily resident' mean ?

For the purposes of registering a ship it means living and sleeping in the Bailiwick for a significant part of the year. A person may be considered to be ordinarily resident if they live for a period of, or periods which collectively amount to 185 days or more in a twelve month period. If you are resident in the Bailiwick for tax purposes, you will generally be regarded as resident for the purpose of registration.

5. Can my ship be registered on Part I (Full Register) and the SSR ?

Ships cannot be on more than one part of the Register at any one time. If you have full British registration it is to your advantage to keep your ship registered on that Part rather than transfer it to the SSR. If you wish to transfer from one Part of the Register to another, it will be necessary to close the ship's current registration before the transfer can be made

If the ship is registered on the full register at a port in the United Kingdom or the Channel Islands you may apply to register under the SSR. However, if there is recorded a mortgage or sale affecting the ship or a share in the ship the Part I registry will not be closed and the application will not be proceeded with. Where the applicant's name and the name of the owner on the Part I register differ, the applicant will have to provide a statement of entitlement signed by the present beneficial owner(s), and satisfactory evidence (e.g. bills of sale or a receipted invoice) of ownership.

6. How long does SSR registration last ?

Registration on the SSR lasts for five years from the date of issue of the Certificate of Registry and can be renewed during the period six months prior to the date of expiry, provided no changes have occurred in the details included on the Certificate of Registry, in which case it will terminate immediately. The registration number can be retained provided application is made within three months of the expiry or termination.

The application form should be used only for the first registration of a ship and for the re-registration of a ship whose registry on the SSR has terminated or expired. A separate form for renewing the registration of a ship is available from the Guernsey registrar.

7. Ship names

Ships will not be registered if they have undesirable or offensive names or which might cause confusion; e.g. if prefixed by FV or HMS. Names such as: 'SOS', 'MAYDAY' or 'LIFEBOAT' will not be allowed. Ships must have a name before they can be registered.

8. Measuring the ship

In most cases the owners may measure the overall length of the ship themselves (see application form question 4). 'Overall length' is the distance between the foreside of the foremost fixed permanent structure and the aftside of the aftermost fixed permanent structure of the ship.

Click the PDF link below for further guidance on measurement points.

pdf icon SSR measurement advice [271kb]

On multi-hulled craft the longest hull should be measured. In the event of any difficulty, or for further advice on measuring craft of a novel design, please contact the Guernsey Registry.

Where the ship is found to be 24 metres or a little more in length, it may still qualify. In this case you must have the statement of length at the end of the application form signed by a qualified surveyor stating that the ship is less than 24 metres in length when measured in accordance with the formula contained in the Merchant Shipping (Bailiwick of Guernsey) (Tonnage) Regulations 2009

9. Definitions

10. Offences and obligations

Any person who makes an application containing a statement which they know to be false or reckless, or any person who, with intent to deceive, uses or lends to or allows to be used by another, a terminated certificate of registration, or any person who fails to ensure that the requirement of ship's marking is met, or any person who fails to surrender a certificate of registration when required by the Regulations shall be guilty of an offence. In addition where it appears that there is any doubt as to the right of any ship registered or seeking registration to be registered, the owner may be required to give additional evidence.


pdf icon Registry of British Ships Fees - 2022 [151kb]