Step By Step Guide on how to register a ship in Nigeria (1)

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read
Foluke Akinmoladun

By Foluke Akinmoladun

Vessels are not permitted to just roam and rove the Nigerian waterways without having been first properly registered. The same goes for the owners of such ships. Therefore, individuals cannot acquire vessels and sail them at their whims and caprices. Registration of Ships begun with the need to identify vessels for the allocation of liability and for recognition of the right of property in the vessel since it is a moving asset that can have varying levels of ownership and possession. Registration is enforced in order to have control over ships, monitor the activities of seafarers and ensure that local content is included in the building and ownership of vessels. In addition to these, whatever other importance is associated with vehicle, land, company registration also apply to ship registration generally.

Before we negotiate the steps of registration procedure, let us consider the mandatory requirements as to Ownership and Vessel Eligibility which are set out by the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007 and must be met to the letter as a condition precedent to ship registration.

Persons Qualified to own and Register a Nigerian Ship

The following persons are eligible to own and register a Nigerian vessel:

  • Nigerian Citizens;
  • Duly registered Nigerian Companies;
  • Foreign Citizens having a maximum of 40 per cent equity ownership in a National Carrier;
  • Joint Owners (not exceeding five persons);
  • Such other persons as may be permitted by the Minister for Transport.

Vessels Eligible to be registered

The following categories of vessels are eligible to be registered provided that they are not more than 10 (ten) years old according to the Government Inspector of Shipping (GIS):

  • Ships under construction;
  • Ships that weigh 15 Gross Tons or more;
  • Licensed ships that weigh under 15 Gross Tons;
  • Merchant ships;
  • Ships on bareboat and similar charters that exceed 12months;
  • Nigerian coastal and inland waters operation licensed ships;
  • Fishing Trawlers/vessels;
  • Ships owned by individual Nigerians or registered Nigerian Corporate bodies;
  • FPSO Oil Platform vessels (floating production storage and offloading)

Required particulars

  • Name of ship;
  • Application for approval of Ship name;
  • Time and place of ship purchase;
  • Name of Shipmaster;
  • Ship managers name and address;
  • The Ship’s best particulars as to tonnage, construction, model and description;
  • Ship Bill of sale/Seller’s Warranty;
  • Deletion certificate;
  • Ship Insurance Cover/Evidence of Protection and Indemnity;
  • Ship log book;
  • Purchaser/Owner’s evidence of means as to finance and skill to operate and maintain the Ship;
  • Call sign certificate;
  • Load line certificate;
  • Tonnage Measurement certificate;
  • Tonnage measurement certificate and Condition survey report;
  • International Tonnage certificate;
  • Marking and Carving sign of the Ship and
  • Certificate of marking and carving note of the Ship.

In part 2 of this article, I will go into the procedure and grounds for refusal of registration.

Foluke Akinmoladun is the Managing Solicitor of Trizon Law Chambers Nigeria. She is a lawyer, accountant, mediator and arbitrator. She is also a Chartered Secretary and Business Rescue & Insolvency Practitioner.

She belongs to the panel of neutrals of numerous arbitral institutions.She was a onetime Director General of the African Ship owners Association of Nigeria and is a member of the Presidential National Action Committee on Nigeria’s Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) (Transportation stream). She is the secretary of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) Maritime Sector. She can be reached at:

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