The Isle of Man Shipping Registry – An Innovative Approach


18 Dec



Portuguese Tonnage Tax

Isle of Man Shipping Registry

Advisors often need to guide clients on the most suitable jurisdiction to flag an owner’s vessel. Historically, advisors have preferred tried and tested jurisdictions, but in today’s competitive world there is increasing importance on other issues such as jurisdiction perception, international transparency, time differences, different legal systems, expertise and growing costs associated with certain jurisdictions.

Criteria to Select a Suitable Flag to Register a Vessel

“Best practice” to select a suitable flag would generally include the following criteria:

  • Strong economic international standards – a minimum ‘A rating’.
  • Robust legal and construction standards.
  • A commercially run register – emphasis on service and response.
  • A strong performance in the areas of safety, security and environmental protection.
  • A jurisdiction that is White Listed by the Paris & Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (Paris/Tokyo MoU) – and low risk rating.
  • A jurisdiction strong on reputation, compliance and transparency.
  • Low registration costs, simplified bureaucratic procedures and minimal taxes.

What Additional Advantages Does the Isle of Man Register Offer?

The former Director of the Register in the Isle of Man once said “The Isle of Man used to be the best register you have never heard of”, but that has changed. It is clear the Isle of Man flag has become recognised within the industry as one of the leading international registers for quality, efficiency and innovation.

Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty around Brexit, it has previously been pointed out that “the Isle of Man’s position in the merchant shipping world is very clear, the Isle of Man is a British register and will fly the British Ensign, but it is not recognised as an EU flag.” Consequently, the EU incentives in terms of tonnage tax and access to cabotage trades in Europe have never applied to the Isle of Man. The EU Maritime Directives have also not applied automatically. Therefore nothing really changes as far as the Isle of Man Register is concerned. The Isle of Man Register continues to hold a strong position as a British non-EU register, which operates as an international register and secures business through the financial and political stability of its jurisdiction. This might not be the same for all jurisdictions.

Over the past three decades the Register has grown substantially and benefited from further investment from the Isle of Man Government.  The Registry has sought to become one of the world’s leading Registers and targeted quality registrations in the process whilst aiming to increase efficiency and extend the service provided to owners.

The Ship Registry now has overseas representatives in China, Greece, Japan and Singapore.

Facts and Figures – the Isle of Man Register

The Isle of Man Ship Register can boast the following:

  • 17th largest Register in the world; gross tonnage 14 million.
  • 400 ships registered and 11,000 seafarers under its flag.
  • 24/7 emergency response by Principal Surveyors.
  • Lower costs on the majority of vessel sizes in comparison to Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Panama.
  • In 2019 the Ship Registry was one of the first flags in the world to launch electronic digitally signed certification.
  • The Paris MOU produce a “White List” of the highest performing flag states in the world and in June 2019, the Isle of Man took the number one spot.
  • In December 2019, the Ship Registry was awarded “Best Ship Registry” for 2020 by World Commerce Review for the second year in a row.

Cost Competitiveness

Cost is understandably a topic of great importance to owners.

The Isle of Man Shipping Register provides a supportive function to the thriving financial services industry in the Isle of Man. The Register, therefore, does not need to act directly as a tax raising centre, which allows it to be more competitive.


The Isle of Man is a shipping centre with a maritime tradition. The Shipping Register is a commercial register with a very supportive Government and with vessels allowed to fly the British ensign. Registry staff have a strong technical, supportive and customer focused approach.

Additional Information

If you require any further information regarding the above article, please speak to your usual Dixcart contact or to Paul Harvey at the Dixcart office in the Isle of Man;      

Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is Licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.