When it comes to Ship registration in Nigeria, the first to consider is eligibility. Who and which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships? So, in this post, we covered how to register Ship in Nigeria, the NIMASA registration procedures and requirements, the cost of registration and how you’re your registration can be rejected.

The federal government body/ office that is in charge of ship registration in Nigerian is The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). NIMASA was established by Section 28(2) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007.

Persons Qualified to Register Ships in Nigerian

The current act that established ship registration is called “Merchant Shipping Act 2007”. It provides that the following are persons eligible to register ship in Nigerian.

  • A Nigerian Citizen;
  • Joint owners not exceeding five persons
  • Bodies corporate established under and subject to Nigerian Laws, having their place of business in Nigeria
  • Such other persons as the Minister of Transport may prescribe

For registration, the Act provides that there shall be a Central Ship Registry for the registration and licensing of Ships in Nigeria.


Read: Ship and NIMASA Registration Service in Nigeria


 Individuals Ship Registration NIMASA Requirement

Joint owners (not exceeding five persons); and

Other parties approved by the minister of transport.

Ship registration in Nigeria

A shipping company that want to engages in the business of transporting or providing cargoes, ship owning and shipping operations can apply to register a ship if it has duly incorporated in accordance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act with the objectives of doing shipping business or shipping agent.

The Corporate Affairs Commission has put the minimum threshold for the registration of Logistic Companies who engage in shipping or who serve as agents to have as a pre-requisite a minimum share capital of N25, 000,000 (TWENTY FIVE MILLION NAIRA). To this extent a company who wishes to carry on shipping activities as part of its businesses must have a minimum share capital of N25, 000,000.

NIMASA Shipping Company Registration Requirements

Ship and NIMASA registration in Nigeria

In Nigeria, a ship cannot operate commercially in or from the waters of Nigeria unless the ship is a Registered Nigerian Ship, registered by law of another country and is by the law of that country exempted from registering in Nigeria; or unless the ship is a licensed Nigerian ship operating solely within the waters of Nigeria and where the ship is exempted from registration.

Ships That Are Eligible For Registration

The ships that are eligible for registration in Nigeria are:

  • Fishing vessels,
  • Floating production storage,
  • Merchant ships,
  • Ships licensed weighing under 15 gross tons,
  • Ships licensed to operate in coastal and inland waters of Nigeria
  • Ships under construction
  • Any ships owned by Nigerians citizens or Nigerian registered bodies corporate

However, it is important to know that in line with International Maritime Organization guidelines, only the double hull vessels can be registered with the NIMASA.

NIMASA Procedure and Requirements for Ship Registration

An application for the registration must be made formally in writing to the Registrar at a port of Registry in Nigeria subject to the approval of the Minister. The form for registration is available on the NIMASA’s website.  The owner of the ship or agent will submit a formal letter of application attaching the following documents;

  • A completed NIMASA application form
  • A completed NIMASA approval of name of ship form
  • Copy of Certificate of Incorporation
  • Evidence of registration as a shipping company with NIMASA
  • CTC of Memorandum and Article of Association
  • CTC of Form CAC 7 and CAC 2(Particulars of Directors and Allotment of Share capital). The share capital of the company must not be less than Twenty-Five Million Naira. (N25 Million)
  • Company’s current tax clearance certificate
  • Company’s bank statement or reference letter
  • A declaration of NIMASA ownership form to be issued by the Ship Registry.
  • The applicant is to make an application for survey and issuance of Certificate of Tonnage measurement to facilitate the flag survey of the ship.

The applicant is also expected to provide details of its particulars when registering a Ship. These details should include the following;

  • Full names, address and occupational operation of the applicant
  • Evidence of ability to operate and maintain a ship
  • The logbook of the ship will also be provided for inspection by the Registrar of Ships.
  • Evidence of sufficient financial resources for the operation and maintenance of the ship.


Read: Nigerian Local Content Registration


Ship Particulars Required Information:

  • The name of the ship, time, place of purchase and Master of the Ship
  • Particulars in respect of tonnage, build and description of the ship
  • Bill of sale or Builders Certificate, that is the evidence of title
  • Certificate of the approved plan issued by NIMASA for a newly built vessel in Nigeria alone
  • Callsign certificate
  • Load line Certificate
  • Report of pre-survey purchase
  • Condition survey report and tonnage measurement certificate as approved by the Minister
  • Certificate of Carving and marking note of the Ship. The ship for registration must be marked permanently and conspicuously to the satisfaction of the Minister. Inspections will be carried out on ship markings at the cost to the ship’s owner.
  • Payment of Registration Fee
  • Evidence of insurance coverage of the ship

It is important to mention that, the Registry can refuse the Registration of a Ship submitted by the Applicant and the grounds upon such refusal may include the followings:

  • The application will be refused where the applicant fails to get the ship surveyed and have its tonnage ascertained.
  • It can be refused where the applicant fails to deliver all the documents stated above for registration
  • The application can be fused where it fails to meet the requirements as stipulated by the Merchant Shipping Act
  • Where the name proposed to be registered exists, the registry will refuse the registration and also where the registration will offend public interest.
  • A company shall not be registered as an owner of a ship until a declaration is made on behalf of the corporation and signs a declaration of ownership referring to the ship as described in the surveyor’s tonnage certificate.

The Registrar upon the submission and compliance of the requirement shall enter into the register the name of the ship, particulars of the origin of the ship, name of builders and date the ship was built, particulars of ship operator, particulars of any mortgage, lien regarding the ship.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) places tariff charged for registration of a ship, and such tariff often subject to review and approval

NIMASA Official Fee for Ship Registration

The official cost for the registration of ship on the initial registry in Nigeria is on items based on gross tonnage of Vessel, which is as follows:

  • For a ship that has 200 tons, the charge is N120, 000.00 (One Twenty Thousand Naira);
  • To register for a Ship that weighs over 200 tons to 1000 tons, the charge N160,000.00 (One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira Only)
  • For the registration of a ship with a gross tonnage over 1000 tons, the charge to be paid is N160,000.00 and additional N160,000.00/1000 Tons

Ship Registration Cancellation

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the Registrar shall cancel the registration of a ship registered in Nigeria at any time the ship appears to be registered also in a foreign country; where the applicant ceases to comply with the requirements for qualification to own a ship under the Act and lastly where the ship appears to be broken, lost or abandoned.

The shipowner can also apply to cancel the registration of the ship but this cancellation must be supported with the following documents;

  1. A board resolution authorizing the cancellation
  2. Return of certificate of registration
  3. Evidence of payment of official fees for issuance of a certificate of cancellation.

Renewal of Certificate of Ship Registration

The registration of a ship is valid for five years, after which the ship-owner can apply for renewal of the vessel registration and the charges to be paid shall be half of the initial registration cost.

The application for renewal is supported by the following documents:

  • A formal letter of application by the applicant or authorized agents
  • Copy of the Certificate of Incorporation
  • CTC of Memorandum and Article of Association
  • CTC of Form CAC 7 (Particulars of Directors) and CAC 2 (Allotment of Shares)
  • Current Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Competed declaration of ownership form with the passport photograph attached
  • Bank statement/Reference
  • Return of expired certificate of registration
  • Condition survey report
  • Annual survey report of the preceding 3 years
  • NIMASA Official Receipt for payment of registration

The Advantages Of Flying Nigeria’s Flag

Qualification to participate in supplying services for coastal and inland shipping (ie, cabotage trade) – cabotage trade is reserved for Nigerian-flagged ships which are built and crewed by Nigerians. Even where a vessel is not built in Nigeria or crewed or managed by Nigerians, it may still qualify for cabotage ahead of other vessels if flying the Nigerian flag.

The ship will acquire a high rating/classification to provide shipping services for specified contracts in the oil and gas industry under the Nigerian local content policy, which aims to increase the capacity of Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry.


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