Registration in Belgium

What ships are eligible for registration?

Only a (full or bareboat) registered ship:

  • is entitled to fly the Belgian flag.
  • can be mortgaged in Belgium.

Registration can be applied for by the ship-owner or by its operator, provided the owner has approved the ship registration in Belgium. After the registration, the certificate of registry will be issued by the services of the Directorate General of Maritime Transport.

Once the registration has been granted, the ship remains registered for as long as the owner or operator wishes the registration to last. There is no need to extend or renew the application yearly or any other number of years, as is the case in most other countries around the world.

A vessel registered in the Belgian full register cannot be registered in another country except in the bareboat register of that country. In such a case, the ship may fly the flag of the latter country.

Every vessel of at least 25 ton used or dedicated to be used at sea is eligible to be registered in Belgium in the register of seagoing ships (the ‘primary’ register), provided:

  • The ship is less than 15 years old or older than 15 years but has been issued with a certificate of conformity evidencing their compliance with the technical provisions of the Royal Decree of 20 July 1973. (For more information see ‘technical control of the ship’ under 2.2.2.)
  • The ship is operated from Belgium (meaning that they are operated by a company registered in Belgium, e.g. a Belgian ship owning company, a Belgian branch of a foreign shipping company, a Belgian ship management company, etc.).
  • the owner or operator of the ship is either:
    • a national of a Member State of the European Union;
    • an individual domiciled or resident in Belgium;
    • a legal person (company) having its real place of business in one of the Member States of the European Union
    • Both existing ships and ships under construction may be registered.

Documents to be submitted

  • The following documents have to be submitted to the ship registrar with a view to having a seagoing ship registered in the Belgian register of seagoing ships:
    • Certificate of Seaworthiness
    • Minimum Safe Manning Certificate
    • International Tonnage Certificate
    • An application for registration
  • The notary declaration/deeds to support the application for registration (registration applied for by owner or registration applied for by operator)

The registration of seagoing ships is governed by the ship registration act of 21 December 1990 and has been implemented by the royal decree of 4 April 1996.


What fees/costs are involved?

Mortgage registry fees are fixed by a royal decree of 18 September 1962; this decree has been amended several times since then. Ship mortgage registry fees are dealt with in article 5 of this decree.

As of Februari, 13th 2017, the main fees became the following:

  • for registration of ship (registration of document of title):0.070% over the price of the ship;
  • for registration of ship mortgage deed: 0.070% over amounts to be secured;
  • for bareboat registration of ship: EUR 1,400 per year of the charter period
  • for the cancellation of a mortgage registration: 0.014% over the secured amounts.

A seagoing ship is only registered on the Belgian register of seagoing ships provided the registration fees and costs have been paid in advance.


Belgian Ship Registration
Posthoflei 5
2600 Berchem – Belgium
+32 322 90 048

Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport
DG Navigation
City Atrium
Vooruitgangsstraat 56
1210 Brussels – Belgium
+32 2 277 35 00
+32 2 277 40 51