Thursday, October 11, 2007

BVI Moves Towards Achieving Category 1 Registration Status

The British Virgin Islands will probably change its vessel registration status from Category 2 to Category 1 within the Red Ensign Group. At the current moment, British Virgin Islands have the status of tax neutral Category 2 Red Ensign port of British Registry operating under the authority of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2001. At the Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference that was held in Guernsey in summer it was announced that the Secretary of State for Transport has agreed to upgrade the British Virgin Islands Shipping Register (VISR) to Category 1 status limited to general cargo ships.

In 2006, the BVI government launched the VI (Virgin Islands) Shipping Registry, which was created out of a merger of the Shipping Registry Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission, with the Marine Services Unit of the Ministry of Communication and Works. Forming of the Registry, which falls administratively under the authority of the Chief Minister's office, means that one of the final conditions required for BVI to operate as Category 1 Shipping Registry is fulfilled.

A change of registration status would lift the current tonnage restrictions on vessels that may be registered under the BVI flag, and provide the new possibilities to the jurisdiction in the merchant shipping arena benefiting.

The BVI government is planning to find the resources needed to create the infrastructure required for the change in status during the period of 2003-2007. Probably, the new status will be formally received before the end of 2007, and then BVI will join the ranks of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom.

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