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Ships are all water craft with an overall length of at least 12 metres performing state administrative duties or used for economic activities or vocational training. Water craft with an overall length of more than 24 metres which are used for recreational activities in Estonian maritime areas and international shipping are also deemed to be ships.

Registration of ships is regulated by the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act.

 

ESTONIAN SHIPOWNER
 

  1. The Republic of Estonia, a local authority or other legal person in public law;
  2. an Estonian citizen;
  3. a legal person in private law registered in Estonia;
  4. a seagoing vessel in shared ownership may fly the national flag of Estonia if the greater share of the seagoing vessel is owned by an Estonian citizen or Estonian citizens.

Citizens of the Contracting States of the European Economic Area and legal persons in private law registered pursuant to the laws of the Contracting States whose seat and business establishment is in a Contracting State shall be equal to an Estonian shipowner, provided that they:

  1. have a business establishment in Estonia, considering that the ship herself is not deemed to be a business establishment, or
  2. are responsible persons that have a business establishment in Estonia.
 

RESPONSIBLE PERSON

A ship entered in the ship registry or in the register of bareboat chartered ships must have a responsible person.

A responsible person is a legal or natural person who is responsible for compliance with the technical, social and administrative requirements applicable to ships in Estonia, and who complies with the requirements established for an operator within the meaning of the Maritime Safety Act, if:

  1. they have passed a maritime safety audit and have a valid document of compliance (DOC) specified in subsection 6 (12) of the Maritime Safety Act, issued by the Maritime Administration, or
  2. they submit a written confirmation regarding their compliance with the requirements if holding the document of compliance (DOC) is not required by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974.

The following ships need not have a responsible person:

  1. seagoing vessels with an overall length of up to 24 metres;
  2. ships which perform state administrative duties;
  3. inland vessels and non-propelled floating vessels;
  4. ships under construction and non-propelled floating vessels under construction;
  5. ships entered in the ship registry which have been chartered out.
 

PRE-REGISTRATION INSPECTION OF SHIPS
 

For the first entry in a ship register in Estonia, a standard form shall be submitted to the registrar regarding the technical supervision of maritime safety of the ship. The standard form is issued by the Maritime Administration. An application in free form for issue of the standard form and for conduct of a technical survey must be sent by e-mail: ljo[at]vta[dot]ee.

In case a ship has all valid maritime safety certificates issued by a Recognised Organisation, the Maritime Administration may waive the pre-registration inspection of the ship and issue the standard form on the basis of the maritime safety documents issued to the ship. When making the decision, the Maritime Administration will take into account the ship’s maritime safety record in various port state control databases.

A state fee shall be paid for the pre-registration inspection and issue of the standard form in accordance with the rates stipulated in the State Fees Act.

 

 

NAME AND EXTERNAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER OF SHIP
 

Approval of name:
If a ship has previously not been entered in the register in Estonia or if the name is changed in the course of re-registration, a written application in free form shall be submitted to the Ship Supervision Department of the Maritime Administration. It may also be submitted electronically, digitally signed, at: laevaregister[at]vta[dot]ee.

A supporting document certifying ownership to confirm the correctness of the data should be attached to the application.

The owner or charterer of the ship may submit an application to the Maritime Administration for keeping the name of the ship in their name; the name of the ship shall be kept in the name of the shipowner of charterer for three years after the date of approval.

Assigning the external identification number (in case of a fishing vessel with an overall length of more than 10 metres, which has previously not been entered in the register in Estonia):

A written application in free form shall be submitted to the Ship Supervision Department of the Maritime Administration. It may also be submitted electronically, digitally signed, at: laevaregister[at]vta[dot]ee.

A supporting document certifying ownership to confirm the correctness of the data should be attached to the application.

 

ENTRY OF SHIP IN THE ESTONIAN SHIP REGISTRY (THE SHIP REGISTER AND THE REGISTER OF SHIPS UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
 

The ship registry is maintained by the land registry department of Tartu County Court. More specific information is available on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

Applications and other documents can be submitted to the land registry department via a notary or the Maritime Administration. Digital applications can be submitted via the Maritime Administration, on a standard form. The forms are available on the website of the Ministry of Justice.

Upon registration, the certificate of a sea-going vessel and, at the request of the shipowner, a certificate of nationality are issued for the ship.

For registration of a ship, the following documents shall be submitted to the land registry department:

  1. for the first entry in a ship register in Estonia, a standard form (see: pre-registration inspection of ships) regarding the initial technical survey of maritime safety of the ship;
  2. a tonnage certificate in case of a sea-going ship;
  3. in case of a ship deleted from the Estonian ship register or Estonian ship book, a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration regarding re-registration of the ship in the register relating to ships;
  4. for the first entry in the Estonian ship register or in case of changing the name of a ship, a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration regarding approval of the name of the ship;
  5. for the first entry in a ship register in Estonia of a fishing vessel, a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration regarding assigning an external identification number to the vessel;
  6. in case of a ship that is outfitted with equipment radiating in radio frequencies, the radio licence of the water craft issued by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.

Information to be submitted for registration of a sea-going vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the ship;
  2. the type of main engines of the ship, the type of the ship according to its purpose, and the main material of the hull;
  3. the port of registry;
  4. the place and year of build and the name of the builder;
  5. the call sign;
  6. the International Maritime Organization (IMO) number if it is evident from the tonnage certificate or other corresponding document, the results of official measurement and the output of the engines;
  7. data on the owner or shared owners and the size of the shares in the shared ownership, and in the case of a ship of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  8. in case a responsible person exists, their data and contact details, the document certifying the authorisation of the responsible person together with the number of the document or confirmation specified in subsection 42 (2) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act, a written confirmation that the person has a business establishment in Estonia, unless the owner of a seagoing vessel, including a shared owner, has a business establishment in Estonia, and the digitally signed or notarised consent of the responsible person for being entered as a responsible person in the ship registry, unless the functions of the responsible person are performed by the shipowner;
  9. the legal basis for acquiring ownership, which shall be certified;
  10. proof of the right to fly the national flag of Estonia;
  11. the manager in the case of a ship co-operative;
  12. documents which certify that the ship complies with the safety requirements for ships established in the Republic of Estonia;
  13. the provisional certificate of nationality if issued;
  14. receipt for payment of the state fee.

If a ship has not been measured in Estonia, the submission of a tonnage certificate issued abroad is sufficient in legalised form.

Information to be submitted for registration of an inland vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the ship;
  2. the main material of the hull;
  3. the port of registry;
  4. the place and year of build and the name of the builder;
  5. the overall length of the ship and the output of the engines;
  6. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified and in the case of several owners the percentage of each owner’s share shall be indicated), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  7. the legal basis for acquiring ownership, which shall be certified;
  8. documents which certify that the ship complies with the safety requirements for ships established in the Republic of Estonia;
  9. receipt for payment of the state fee.

Information to be submitted for registration of a non-propelled floating vessel:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the non-propelled floating vessel (it shall be indicated that the vessel is a non-propelled floating vessel);
  2. the location;
  3. the place of build;
  4. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  5. the basis for the creation of ownership, which shall be certified;
  6. documents which certify that the non-propelled floating vessel complies with the safety requirements established in the Republic of Estonia;
  7. receipt for payment of the state fee.

For registration of a vessel under construction, the following documents shall be submitted to the land registry department:

  1. a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration regarding the principal measurements of the vessel under construction;
  2. a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration or a Recognised Organisation regarding the laying of the keel marked with a permanent name or number;
  3. a certificate issued by the Maritime Administration regarding approval of the name of a vessel under construction, of whose hull 75 % is ready or whose name is changed.

Information to be submitted for registration of a sea-going or inland vessel under construction or a non-propelled floating vessel under construction:

  1. the name, number or other mark of identification of the sea-going or inland vessel under construction or the non-propelled floating vessel under construction;
  2. the place of build and the name of the builder;
  3. information about the owner (ownership shall be certified), and in the case of the state, also information about the administrator of state assets and authorised body, if the latter has been appointed;
  4. documents which certify that, with regard to technical characteristics, the seagoing or inland vessel will be eligible for entry in the ship register upon completion;
  5. receipt for payment of the state fee.

If the owner of a seagoing or inland vessel under construction or a non-propelled floating vessel under construction is not the builder of the vessel, a notarised confirmation from the builder concerning the circumstances under which another person became the owner shall be submitted for registration of the vessel.

 

ENTRY OF SHIP IN THE REGISTER OF BAREBOAT CHARTERED SHIPS


A foreign ship may fly the Estonian flag and be entered in the Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships of the Maritime Administration if:

  1. the ship has been chartered bareboat for use in the charterer’s own name;
  2. the shipowner consents to the exchange of flags;
  3. the law applicable to the ship does not prohibit flying the national flag of Estonia.

In order to enter a foreign ship in the First Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships and issue a certificate of nationality, the charterer or a representative of the charterer shall submit, on the basis of an authorisation document, to the Maritime Administration the following:

  1. an application in free form by the charterer, in written or digital form;
  2. the name and former names of the ship;
  3. the main material of the hull, the type of main engines, and the type of the ship according to its purpose;
  4. the port of registry;
  5. the name of the builder, and the place and year of build;
  6. the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number if it is in the tonnage certificate or other corresponding document;
  7. the results of official measurement and the output of the main engines according to the official tonnage certificate;
  8. the Safety Management Certificate (SMC) or interim Safety Management Certificate (interim SMC) for a ship for which the Safety Management Certificate is required, or documents certifying the seaworthiness of a ship for which the Safety Management Certificate is not required;
  9. the classification certificate issued by a recognised organisation for a ship for which the classification certificate is required and which is not a ship specified in subsection 1 (1) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act;
  10. the charter party and in case of sub-charter, the sub-charter party;
  11. the consent of the state of initial registration for registration of the ship in the Estonian register of bareboat chartered ships;
  12. the notarised or digitally signed consent of the shipowner for registration of the ship in the register of bareboat chartered ships, if the consent of the shipowner is not set out in the charter party;
  13. the call sign of the ship;
  14. at the request of the registrar, a document certifying that the charterer is a citizen of a Contracting State or a legal person in private law registered under the law of a Contracting State, whose seat and business establishment are in the Contracting State, unless the registrar can obtain these documents free of charge from a respective register of the other Contracting State within a reasonable period of time;
  15. the name, personal identification code or date of birth in the absence of a personal identification code of the owner or shared owners, charterer and responsible person of the ship; in the case of a legal person, its registry code or registration number;
  16. the contact details specified in subsection 47 (6) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act of the owner or shared owners, charterer and responsible person of the ship;
  17. the document certifying the authorisation of the responsible person, and the digitally signed or notarised consent of the responsible person for being entered in the register of bareboat chartered ships as a responsible person, unless the functions of the responsible person are performed by the shipowner or charterer;
  18. the number of the document or the confirmation specified in subsection 42 (2) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act;
  19. the written confirmation of the charterer that the responsible person has a business establishment in Estonia;
  20. the written confirmation of the charterer that as far as they know there are no circumstances specified in clauses 961 (2) 2)–4) of the Law of Ship Flag and Ship Registers Act.

In order to enter a foreign ship in the Second Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships, the charterer shall submit, to the Maritime Administration the application and documents listed in the previous section, except for the confirmation specified in clause 19.

All documents in a foreign language (except English) shall be submitted together with a translation into Estonian certified by a notary or sworn translator. Documents issued by administrative agencies of foreign states shall be submitted in legalised form.

If transcripts are submitted instead of originals, the registrar may request from the charterer the original or a notarised or officially certified transcript and issue a provisional certificate of nationality which is valid until the issue of standard documents.

If a ship has not been measured in Estonia, the submission of a tonnage certificate issued abroad is sufficient.

Before entry into the Register of Bareboat Chartered Ships, a state fee shall be paid in accordance with the rates stipulated in the State Fees Act.

Certificates of nationality of bareboat chartered ships shall be issued for ships entered in the register of bareboat chartered ships.

 

ENTRY OF SHIP IN THE DATABASE OF SHIPS PERFORMING STATE ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES


A ship performing state administrative duties is a state-owned ship at the disposal of government agencies and intended for the performance of administrative functions assigned to government agencies.

In order to enter the ship in the Database of Ships Performing State Administrative Duties, the shipowner (or an authorised representative of the shipowner on the basis of an authorisation document) shall submit an application in free form to the Ship Supervision Department of the Maritime Administration (laevaregister[at]vta[dot]ee).

The following documents must be enclosed with the application:

  1. the certificate of registration of the applicant in the register of enterprises, agencies and organisations of the Republic of Estonia;
  2. the legal basis for acquiring ownership;
  3. documents concerning the technical characteristics and the safety of the ship (standard form, tonnage certificate);
  4. the radio licence of the water craft.

Ship’s letters shall be issued for ships which perform state administrative duties.

 


ISSUE OF SAFETY CERTIFICATES
 

Technical surveys of ships of 500 GT and above are conducted and the required maritime safety certificates are issued by Recognised Organisations. The only exceptions are the Minimum Safe Manning Certificate and the certificates issued in accordance with ISM and ISPS codes and the MLC.

Ships of up to 500 GT, irrespective of their type and navigation area, may be fully subject to technical surveys conducted by the Estonian Maritime Administration.

 

Last updated: 21 July 2020