Bahamas now offers four flag options for yachts

Oct 18, 2022 by Capt. Jake DesVergers

We have a new player in the field of international standards for yacht safety and registration. The island nation of the Bahamas joins an ever-increasing pool of flag options with the relaunch of a mega yacht division by the Bahamas Maritime Authority.

The Bahamas is a ranking member of the Executive Council at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Its technical knowledge and expertise are exhibited as the flag of choice for most of the world’s cruise ships. Its shipping fleet ranks high among all port state control authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard and Paris MOU.

THE BAHAMAS OFFERS YACHTS FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF REGISTRATIONS:

  1. PRIVATE: This is the traditional type of registration for a pleasure yacht. The owner and his immediate family will use the yacht for recreation only.
  2. PRIVATE YACHT RESTRICTED CHARTER (PYRC): This option allows the yacht to recoup its expenses through limited charter operations not to exceed 84 days per calendar year. Yachts wishing to utilize the PYRC must be inspected to verify compliance with the applicable Bahamas Yacht Code.
  3. COMMERCIAL: With this status, the yacht is afforded the full rights and privileges associated with a commercially trading vessel, including unlimited charters.
  4. UNDER CONSTRUCTION: These modified registrations are issued to yachts under construction to facilitate an owner’s needs during the new build phase.

Manning requirements are always a hot topic for yachts, especially those that charter. The Bahamas appears to have recognized the unique nature of yachts, while ensuring that the international rules are still adhered to. There are no restrictions on nationality. Practical and realistic manning levels are assigned based on the size, area of operation, and intended use of the yacht. Licenses and certificates issued by other “white-listed” nations that are signatory to the STCW Code are recognized without the need for further examination. Moreover — insert collective sigh of relief — the Bahamas recognizes both the RYA and the MCA’s Y-system of crew certification without restriction or additional requirements of training.

THERE ARE SEVERAL OTHER INTERESTING POINTS THAT THE BAHAMAS IS MARKETING:

  • Member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). This association between most independent islands provides preferential treatment to its members.
    • One of only 30 countries authorized a U.S. Cruising License. This facilitates a yacht’s movements while in U.S. waters.
  • Foreign corporations are accepted for ownership. For example, if a Delaware LLC owns a yacht, that ownership structure may remain in place without the need to re-establish it in the Bahamas. (

Capt. Jake Desvergers is Chief Surveyor for International Yacht Bureau (IYB), which provides flag state inspection services to private and commercial yachts on behalf of several flag state administrations.

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