- About Us
- Corporate Information
- Organisational Structure
- NMSA Offices
- Image Gallery
- Community Development
- Recommended Links
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
- Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
- International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
- Tokyo MOU Secretariat (MOU)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA-AISM)
- World Maritime University (WMU)
- PNG Maritime College (PNGMC)
- PNG Ports Corporation Ltd
- PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA)
- Ships Safety
- Reporting System (PNGREP)
- Levy in brief, Fees & Charges
- Regulations & Standards
- Vessel Certificate
- Navigational Aids System
- Hydrographical Services
- Vessel Tracking
- Port State Control Reporting System
- FSC & Administration
- NMSA Recommended Safety Publications
- Ship Cargo Safety
- NMSA Seafarers Prayer
- PNG Ships Registration
- Registration Requirements
- Forms & Fees
- Application Forms
- Transfer of Ownership
- Alteration to Ship
- Search of Register
- Continuous Synopsis Record
- Inspection & Search of Register
- Marine Qualification
- Application Forms & Fees
- NMSA Approved Courses
- Seafarer Carrier Pathway
- Certificates & Endorsements
- Oral Examinations
- Sea Services Guides
- Seafarer's Register
- Marine Pollution Bills & Regulations
- Maritime Legislation
- Maritime Pollution Legislation
- National Maritime Safety Authority Act 2003
- Levy Legislation
- Shipping Legislation
- Marine Environment Protection Legislation
- STCW Related Regulations
- Draft Regulations
- Uniform Shipping Laws Code
- Small Craft Bills & Regulations
- Search & Rescue
- Search & Rescue in PNG
- Search & Rescue Manual
- Distress Beacons
- Case Study
- Marine Environment Protection
Ships Registry - Guideline
NOTE: The NMSA strongly recommends all ship-owners applying to register their vessel under the PNG flag to apply for full registration.
Information to ship owners
The "Purchasing Process" of a ship is an attribute of any owners.
National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) has the obligation to advise the ship-owners about the current legal requirements for Ship Registration prior purchasing a vessel, and also, Department of Transport will advise the prospective owner that, along with the application for a Coasting Trade License the prospective owner will require formal clearance from the NMSA that the vessel is constructed up to the safety standards for vessels required by PNG laws, for operation in PNG waters.
When a suitable ship has been identified, the prospective ship-owner need to look at ship's plans, documentation, Class and statutory certificates of the ship and send copies to the NMSA in order to check them and assess for ship design, ships technical condition, tonnage measurement, load-line calculation, equipment installed on board, and intact stability criteria.
If all agree that it is a suitable vessel for operation in PNG, the prospective owner will/may arrange for a "Condition survey" by contracting a suitable firm of valuation surveyors to advise whether or not the condition of the vessel is in line with the price that is being asked for it. A "Condition survey" can be undertaken in a dry dock or whilst the vessel is afloat, but any costs of survey and dry-docking will normally be to the account of the prospective owner. When the prospective owner is satisfied that the price asked for the vessel is in line with the condition of the vessel the prospective owner and the vendor may sign an MOA or a Sale & Purchase Contract, and does the necessary payment as they agreed.
This is especially true of small vessels and vessels that have not been maintained in "Class" or which do not have a readily available repair/maintenance history.
2. The Mechanics of Purchase and Sale a Ship
Let us assume that a PNG company wants to purchase a ship owned and registered in Oceania, which is at present undergoing modifications and repairs in Singapore. Let us also assume that for the time being, no financing and no mortgages are involved. First, the prospective purchaser will have either found a ship that he wants to purchase, either through personal contacts or through a shipbroker. A shipbroker often assists in the negotiations, and sometimes even in the finance of a purchase.
Just about everything will be negotiated, including obvious matters such as price, date and place of delivery, but will also include spares and stores on board the vessel, and can, in extreme cases involve vessel's name and the inclusion or otherwise of monogrammed silverware, table cloths and towels. Once all the agreements have been committed to paper, it is necessary for the prospective purchaser to commence discussions with the Registrar in the port in which it is hoped to register the vessel.
The Registrar will often have a checklist of items that have to be done by the purchaser before registration can be effected. Much of this will involve determining whether or not the ship complies with PNG laws in respect of vessel safety and equipment, and also, whether the vessel will comply with PNG's strict environmental and marine pollution prevention laws. The Department of Transport, Maritime Division used to allow surveyors to travel to where a prospective PNG ship was located, at the expense of the purchaser, to ensure that the ship would conform with PNG law in all respects on its arrival in PNG. This service has now been discontinued when National Maritime Safety Authority take over in 2006 almost all safety functions from DOTMC.
Now the ship-owner has to employ a "qualified surveyor", a classification society surveyor to carryout this task or an approved non-exclusive surveyor (i.e. one that is not tied to a particular classification society). In either case, not only should the surveyor be very familiar with PNG law and regulations in respect of ship safety and marine pollution, he should also be familiar with the Instructions to Surveyors and the PNG Government's interpretation of international maritime law conventions.
When it is determined that the vessel will meet PNG safety standards (with or without modifications), then it is time to accurately calculate the vessel's tonnage, since that is required for a variety of purposes, including pilotage, light, canal and harbour dues, as well as fees, and levy's for a variety of services needed by the ship in and around port and coastal waters.
The purchaser is responsible for engaging a "qualified surveyor" to carry out this tonnage measurement survey. In fact, the prospective purchaser and new owner is responsible for just about everything, since the Registrar's role is only to tell the ship-owner what is required for registration, ensure all the documents are complete and appear to be authentic, and record in the Register that which he, by law, is required to do so.
It is not desirable, and so it is not legal, for a ship to be registered in two Ship Registers at the same time, so before the Registrar at the new Port of Registry will register the vessel, that Registrar must receive a Certificate of Deletion from the Registrar in the old Port of Registry.
So, what is being registered?
In spite of the fact that the old legislation and ship registration regulations spoke of a Declaration of Ownership, that does not necessarily mean that the person who made the Declaration was the true owner. What did construe ownership was a signed Bill of Sale from the Vendor, assuming that he had good title to the ship via the Bill of Sale that he received from the previous vendor from whom he bought it. As long as there were no encumbrances against the ship, then the properly executed Bill of Sale was the document that transferred title from one person to another.
Registration of this document in a public depository that is open for the inspection of documents would make it plain to see who the legitimate owner of the ship was. Generally speaking, in English law, the first person to register a document of title is the person who is recognised as the owner, even though the vendor may have "sold" his ship to someone else earlier in the day, but who took his time to register the Bill of Sale.
If a mortgage is registered in the Register in Oceania, then this mortgage will have to be satisfied or discharged before the Registrar will delete the ship from the Registry. This is because the ship is security for the mortgage.
3. Prompt handling of Registry business
Since Ship Registration is a title system Registrars are to ensure that documents and relevant correspondence are to be handled promptly on receipt. Delay in dealing with matters of title is not acceptable, although it may not always be possible immediately to make the appropriate entries in the Register Book.
The entries in the Register are taken from the information provided by persons who submitted the documents outlined in the Forms attached to the Merchant Shipping Registration Regulations. When the Application to Register a Vessel has been received, together with all of the supporting documentation, including Carving and Marking Note fully completed and signed, and when the appropriate fee has been paid, the register should copy the information into the Register and keep the original documents, or a certified copy thereof, in a file that is specific to that vessel.
4. Official Number
This is the number that is allocated to every ship, known and recognised irrespective of its name or other descriptions. The Official Number is always retained by a vessel even if it changes its name or Port of Registry or is re-registered or registered anew. The same number is never applied to two ships. An
Official Number once allocated is never re-allocated to another vessel, even after the loss or breaking-up or the sale of the ship overseas. This is to make it easier for persons searching the Register to find the vessel that they are looking for.
5. The Procedure to be followed in registering a Vessel Qualified
14. Qualification for owning registered ship.
Subject to Sections 15 and 17, the Registrar shall not register a ship under this Act unless
(2) For the purposes of this Act
A person who is not a Qualified Person is not allowed to register a ship in Papua New Guinea.
Individuals are registered by their full names and addresses and their occupations or professions as given in their Declaration of Qualified Person. Corporations are entered in the Register by their corporate names.
No more than five (5) joint owners shall be allowed to be entered in the Register. Registrars should clearly understand the distinction between individual ownership and joint ownership. An individual owner can dispose of his interest in the vessel in any manner. Joint owners of a vessel can only act together in disposing of the vessel.
Thus, two owners each owning 32 shares in a vessel are each able to dispose of those shares without the permission of the other.
But two individuals registered as joint owners of the 64 shares of the ship cannot act separately in disposing of any part of their interest, as they are treated as one person and must join together in any legal transaction involving the Registry.
Veracity of Documents
The responsibility to have the correct documents is on the person wanting (or being required to) register the vessel, and not on the Registrar.
The responsibility of the Registrar is to ensure the correct documents are presented and that he documents contain all the information required by the Regulations. The Registrar is not responsible for the correctness of the information in the documents: That is the responsibility of the person wishing to register the documents.
However, if the Registrar perceives that some information in the documents presented to him/her is patently wrong, then this fact should be pointed out to the person wishing to register the vessel. For example, if the name of the vessel is spelled incorrectly or if the wrong person is named as the owner, the Registrar should refuse to register the vessel.
So, the Registrar should examine the documents carefully, but he cannot question the amount of money stated in a Bill of Sale or a Deed of Mortgage.
Choice of Name
Names that have already been allocated or "reserved" by owners who are already in the process of making ready for registration, and generally not available, nor are names that may be easily confused with such names. Names that are offensive to the general public will not be countenanced, and neither will names that suggest some connection with royalty, governments, instrumentalities of governments or anyone else that does not want to appear to be so connected.
Where an applicant selects a name and the name is approved, that name shall be reserved for that ship until, either the application for registration is withdrawn or the vessel is registered in this name. The Regulations provide other restrictions on the choice of a name.
Change of name
Certificate of Deletion before Registration 14. Qualification for owning registered ship.
A vessel cannot be registered in two places at the same time.
Before the registration of an existing vessel, the Registrar should ensure that the vessel has been deleted from the Register in the place it was formerly registered. The Register should not register the vessel unless he/she has received a Certificate of Deletion from the Register in the Port where the vessel was formerly registered. For example, the Registrar in Papua New Guinea would not register the vessel "Pride of Papua New Guinea" in the Register before receiving a Certificate of Deletion from the Registrar in Oceania advising that the "Pride of Oceania" had been deleted from the Oceania Register.
Discharge of Mortgage prior to Deletion from Register
It should be remembered that before deleting a ship from the Register, any mortgages should be discharged first. The registration of a mortgage is often the only security that the lender has. Once the vessel is deleted from the Register the mortgage has no effect.
What usually happens is that the purchaser searches the title of the vessel in the Register in Oceania. He will notice that there is a mortgage outstanding against the vessel. He will tell the vendor that instead of paying the vendor the full amount of $3 million, on the closing of the sale, he will pay $2 million to the vendor and $1 million to the mortgagee. The mortgagee will then sign a Certificate of Discharge of Mortgage, which will be registered in the Register in Oceania. Once this has been registered, the Registrar in Oceania can then delete the vessel from the Register and issue a Certificate of Deletion to the Registrar in Papua New Guinea.
Once the funds have been paid by the purchaser, the vendor will give the purchaser a Bill of Sale, which the purchaser will register in the Register in Papua New Guinea. If the purchase of the vessel has been made with the assistance of a loan from a financial institution in Papua New Guinea or elsewhere, the mortgagee will want to register his mortgage as soon as the purchaser registers the Bill of Sale.
Time of Registration determines Title to Vessel
Remember that the rights of ownership in a vessel under the laws of most countries in the Pacific, and in Papua New Guinea, are that the person who first registers the Bill of Sale is the person with the right of ownership in the vessel.
If a vendor sold a vessel to Alfa on Monday, and purported to sell the same vessel to Beta on Wednesday, if Beta registered his Bill of Sale on Thursday and Alfa registered his Bill of Sale on Friday, Beta would be the rightful owner. Alfa might have an action against the unscrupulous vendor to get his money back, but Beta would be the rightful owner since he had registered his Bill of Sale before Alfa registered, or tried to register, his.
Importance of Time of Registration
Since "time is of the essence" in many matters dealing with the registration of vessels, the Registrar must register the vessel in the Register and note the time and date of the entry in the Register in the Register and on the Certificate of Registration.
Summary of Process of Registration of Bill of Sale
After being satisfied that the documentation is in order, the Registrar should collect the appropriate fee, accept the documentation, and record it in the Fees and Deeds Book, showing the exact hour and minute of acceptance. As soon as possible after its acceptance, the Bill of Sale must be entered in the Register Book.
Note: For vessels purchased from abroad, after vessel arrived in PNG, the Bill of Sale should be endorsed by the PNG Customs.
Endorsement of Bill of Sale
On completion of the entry in the Register Book, the Registrar must retain a certified copy of the Bill of Sale and return the original Bill of Sale to the transferee, after endorsing thereon the date and the hour and minute of the entry. If the Bill of Sale is collected personally, the owner or agent must give a receipt in the Fees and Deeds Book. When it is returned by registered mail or courier, a suitable notation should be made in the Fees and Deeds Book.
Endorsement of Certificate of Registry
The Certificate of Registry, after endorsement, must also be returned.
Register a Public Document - The need for Caution
The Register of Vessels is a book, or can be an electronic database, where the parties register their rights for all to see. Thus, the Register may be inspected, for a fee, as may the files that back up the entries in the Register. In many cases, the request to inspect the Register will be legitimate, as in the case of a prospective purchaser searching to determine the existence of a mortgage against the vessel. However, the Registrar must be vigilant to ensure that the person reviewing the Register does not attempt to change the record, or remove, alter, insert or otherwise tamper with the documents in the vessel file. The Registrar should be in attendance when members of the public inspect the Register or the files.
Division of Property
A ship has traditionally been divided into 64 shares. These are different from the shares in a company that might own the ship. It is believed that 64 was derived from the fact that one sixty-fourth is one half of a divided share six times.
The last person in the chain of subdivision would own one sixty-fourth part of the ship. The person above him would own one thirty-second, or two sixty-fourths. The person above him would own one sixteenth or four sixty-fourths, with the person above him owning one eighth or eight sixty fourths and so on, until all the shares combined equal sixty four sixty-fourths. None one person can own a fraction of a share. Measurement and Survey
18. Survey and measurement of ship. (1) Subject to Subsection (5), a ship shall, before registry, be surveyed by a surveyor and, subject to Subsection (4), its tonnage shall be ascertained by the surveyor in the prescribed manner and notified to the Authority who shall issue a tonnage certificate in respect of the ship (4) (Temporary acceptance of a vessel with tonnage measured under the laws of another country).
As we mention above, while the Registrar is not expected to determine the correct measurement of tonnage of a vessel or determine if the vessel is seaworthy, he/she should not register the vessel until the documents indicating the tonnage of the vessel or the fact that is seaworthy for the intended voyages have been correctly completed and signed by a qualified surveyor. Different surveyors may determine tonnage and seaworthiness.
The approved qualified surveyors to survey PNG flag vessels and to determine seaworthiness are gazetted in PNG National Gazette.
The vessel will have to be surveyed in accordance with regulations in respect of safety and it should not be registered until the owner, or prospective owner, is able to provide a current, valid Safety Certificate, or a survey report stating the seaworthy condition of the vessel.
19. Marking of ship._
(1) A ship in respect of which an application for registration is made shall not be registered unless the ship has first been marked permanently and conspicuously in the prescribed manner.
Once the tonnage has been calculated, the surveyor will submit a report stating that the vessel's tonnage has been calculated in accordance with the International Tonnage Measurement Convention or some local equivalent (if any), if the vessel is not going to be engaged on international voyages.
The Registrar at this time already has allocated an Official Name; and approved one of the names the owner has submitted in his order of preference, and insert on the Marking and Carving Note, these particulars including the gross and net tonnage.
This Carving and Marking Note will be handed to the owner, or a qualified surveyor, whose job is to report that the Official Number and Tonnages have been "cut" into the main beam. This terminology stems from the time when ships were constructed of wood and one beam could be designated the "main beam".
Today, the common practice is to cut, using a metal chisel, or mark using a bead of weld, the particulars into the beam or hatch coaming of the hold immediately forward of the bridge.
Also at this time, the name is similarly cut or letters are welded on to either side of the vessel's bows in letters of a certain height and width. The name of the vessel and the Port of Registry are to be cut or marked into the hull at the stem.
Names and draft marks are to be painted with a light colour on a dark background, and a dark colour on a light background. Once the marking has been carried out, the supervising surveyor shall make photos of the marking work done on board, signs the Carving and Marking Note to that effect and it is returned to the Registrar together with the photos, who now knows that the vessel now bears the name, official Number and tonnages as are shortly going to be entered into the Register.
At the same time, although not part of the registration process, the load lines and draft marks will be either carved, or checked and re-painted in accordance with the Shipping (Registration) Regulations.
After registration, the Registrar will retain the original Carving & Marking Note in the ship's file in the Registry and issue the owner with a Certified Copy.
If in the above scenario the ship had in fact been already measured in accordance with the Tonnage Measurement Convention and has Certificate of Tonnage, and same the vessel already has assigned Load Lines in accordance with the Load Lines Convention, it would not have been necessary to re-measure the ship before issuing the Carving & Marking Note.
A call or fax to the previous Flag Administration requesting confirmation that the above documents were current and valid would have been sufficient to enter the data on the Note.
It would still have been necessary for a surveyor to certify and sign the Carving & Marking Note certifying that the name and port of registry were permanently marked and Official Number and Tonnage were carved in the main beam as required by the Regulations.
The Procedure to be followed in registering a Mortgage
What is a mortgage?
vA mortgage is an instrument creating a security for a loan or other valuable consideration raised on a recorded vessel. It is not necessary that the loan or other valuable consideration shall come from the mortgagee.
Form of Mortgage
A mortgage on a registered vessel or share must be in the prescribed form. Registrar should note that there are two types of mortgage, one to Secure a Principal Sum and the other to Secure an Account Current. It should be noted that the statutory requirement for a Mortgage to be in the form prescribed does not allow the inclusion of details that go beyond describing the nature of the mortgage transaction. Extraneous matter relating to conditions that attach to the mortgage should be covered in a separate agreement or deed of covenant between the parties concerned. Such a separate deed, which may be properly referred to on the mortgage, but cannot be accepted for registration, sometimes contains details of the financial arrangement between the parties. Where a mortgage contains extraneous matter it should not be accepted for registration.
Priority of Mortgages
Mortgages rank in priority according to the date and time at which they are produced and accepted for registration and not according to the dates of the mortgage deeds themselves. (A deed is a formal legal document signed, witnessed and delivered to effect a conveyance or transfer of property or to create a legal obligation or contract.) As several mortgages may appear on the Register at the same time, every person proposing to advance money on or to purchase a vessel has the right to inspect the Register or to obtain a copy of the entries therein on the payment of the usual fee. This enables that person to be in a position to be fully informed in advance as to how far their title would be liable to be defeated by any prior encumbrances.
6. Discharge of Mortgage
7. Closing of the Register
Owners are required to report any event giving rise to closure, stating the exact nature of the event. The Certificate of Registry should accompany the notice or reason given why it cannot be delivered, e.g., lost with the sunken ship, or, to be delivered later. A notice given on behalf of a corporation should be signed by the Authorised Officer. In joint ownership or ownership by a number of individuals, notice from one of the owners is acceptable.
8. Certificate of Registry
The Certificate of Registry is a document that always accompanies the ship to indicate its nationality and tonnage, but not to be evidence of the interests of the owner(s) or of encumbrance(s). Retention of the Certificate of Registry by anyone having a lien or charge upon the ship as security for the payment of such charge is contrary to the law and renders the person so retaining the Certificate liable to a penalty (See Shipping Act).
9. Legal Position of Purchasers or Mortgagees
10. Advice to public
The Registrar's function is to register documents of title, which comply with the requirements of the Shipping Act of Papua New Guinea as explained in these Instructions. The Registrar should not go beyond the authority granted in the Act.
11. Final Recommendations and Forms
Provisional Certificate of Registry may be issued on special circumstances, but only for single voyage to bring vessel in PNG
The requirements for permanent registration are:
After receiving all above documents, the Authority will register the "Bill of Sale" and produce and forward to the owner the "Carving and Marking Note", stating what and how the vessel should be permanently and conspicuously marked.
After the vessel has been marked in the prescribed manner, an authorized surveyor should confirm these by signing the "Carving and Marking Note".
As soon as the Carving and Marking Note is returned to Registrar, he/she will be in a position to issue the Certificate of Registry and other statutory documents without delay, enabling the vessel to sail under PNG flag to her final destination.