UAE Laws and Islamic Finance

Laws of the UAE and Islamic Finance

Archive for May 12, 2010

Ship’s Definition and Flag in the UAE


Federal Law No. 26 of 198, UAE Maritime Trade Law

Article 11:

  1. The ship is any installation or object which operates or is prepared to operate in maritime navigation without consideration as to its power, tonnage, or the purpose behind its sailing.
  2. In applying the provisions of this law, a hover-craft used for commercial or non-commercial purposes shall be treated as a ship.
  3. The ship tackles shall be considered a part of it.


Article 12:

The ship shall be considered moveable property subject to the provisions of this law except when they govern the ship as real estate.

Article 13:

Each ship should carry a name, have a nationality, and fly the country’s flag and the name of the port at which it is registered.

Article 14:

  1. The ship shall acquire the country’s nationality if it is registered in one of the country’s ports or is owned by individuals or a company possessing said nationality.
  2. If the owner is a joint stock company, all partners should be UAE nationals.  If the company is a limited liability partnership, the ship partners should be UAE nationals and at least two thirds of the capital should be owned by UAE nationals.  In limited liability companies, 51% of the capital should be owned by UAE nationals and the managers should be UAE nationals.  In speculative companies, all speculators should be UAE nationals, and 51% of the capital should be owned by UAE nationals.  In shareholding companies, 51% of the capital should be owned by UAE nationals and the majority of the board members, including the president, should be UAE nationals.  Collective companies in which the government or bodies corporate have shares shall be exempted from the above mentioned condition.
  3. If a ship is owned by a body corporate, if more than one state has shares in its capital, and if the ship acquires the nationalities of the partner states according to international treaties, the ship can be granted the country’s nationality by a decision to be issued by the Cabinet so as to facilitate its registration.
  4. Ships confiscated for violation of the country’s laws shall be deemed as ships which have acquired the country’s nationality.  Stray ships shall also be treated as such.


Article 15:

All ships which acquire UAE nationality according to Article 14 should fly the country’s flag and shall not be permitted to fly flags of other states except in cases where maritime custom prevail.  Non-national ships shall not be allowed to fly the country’s flag.

Article 16:

1. Non-national ships shall not be allowed to undertake the following navigational activities:

a.)  Coastal navigation between the country’s ports.

b.)  Towing or guiding in the country’s ports.

c.)   Fishing or pleasure liner operations in the country’s regional waters.

2. As an exception to the provisions of paragraph 1, foreign ships may practice the activities mentioned above for a fixed period, according to the conditions and situations determined by a decision to be issued by the Minister after consultation with the concerned authorities.

Article 17:

Provisions of criminal laws followed in the country shall be applied to any crime committed on board any ship which flies the country’s flag.

Registration of Ships in the UAE

Federal Law No. 26 of 1981, UAE Maritime Trade Law

Article 18:

  1. Ships shall not sail on the sea under the country’s flag without being registered in accordance with the provisions of this law.
  2. Fishing ships, pleasure liners, or commercial ships the tonnage of which is less than ten tons shall be exempted from registration.  Vessels, barges, lighters, tugs, boats, cranes, dredgers, diver’s boats, freighters and other floating installations working in the country’s ports shall also be exempted from registration.
  3. Ships and installations mentioned in paragraph 2 can be registered at their owners request and shall be governed by all or some rules of registration by a decision to be issued by the Cabinet.


Article 19:

Without obtaining the Cabinet’s approval, no oil or gas tanker over ten years old on January 1 of the year of the application for registration shall be registered.

Article 20:

Administration shall be entrusted with registering the ships.  The general register shall be reserved for this purpose.  Similar registers shall also be kept in the country’s ports to be named in a decision to be issued by the Minister.

Article 21:

  1. Pages of the register shall be numbered and each page shall be stamped with the registration office stamp.  Each ship shall have a page or more in the register.  The number of the pages shall be the same as the registration number of the ship.
  2. Data sent by the registration offices to the general record shall be stated in the record.  No ship shall be registered without recording all data about it in the register.


Article 22:

The registration offices shall prepare a register for recording registration applications and documents.  Applicants shall be given a receipt including the registration number and date.

Article 23:

  1. No ship shall be registered without being measured by the administration to determine its gross tonnage, net tonnage, dimensions and characteristics.
  2. The Minister shall issue a decision determining the characteristics, bases and procedures for the measurements and conditions for granting the measurement certificate, taking into consideration the measurements determined by international conventions and international classification authorities.
  3. The Administration may ratify the measurements of a ship registered in a foreign country if it has a measurement certificate issued by a classification authority recognized by the country.
  4. If any later changes which may affect the measurements are introduced in the ship, the administration may ask for new measurements of the parts affected by the changes.


Article 24:

If the ship is new and has not been registered before, the applicant for registration should present a certificate from the parties which built the ship or supervised its building. The certificate shall include all information relating to the ship such as its characteristics, measurements, type, date and place of building and ownership.

Article 25:

Before presenting an application, the owner of a ship should obtain the approval of the administration as regards the name of the ship.  The name should not be changed before obtaining the administration’s approval.  If the ship is mortgaged, its name cannot be changed without obtaining written approval from the mortgagee.

Article 26:

  1. Exempting from Article 18 and without prejudice to Article 16, pleasure liners owned by expatriates residing in the country should not operate without being registered in the ship’s register.  The license shall be null and void if those shops operate for any purpose other than pleasure, and the concerned administrative party should inform the registration office so as to get the registration cancelled. 
  2. Such ships are not allowed to fly the country’s flag and shall only fly the flag of the owner’s country.


Article 27:

1. Registration of a ship shall be at the request of the owner, who shall send the application to the registration office stating:

a.)  The name of the ship.

b.)  Former names of the ship and the last port in which the ship was registered.

c.)   Date and place of the building, name and address of the factory or the shipyard in which the ship was built.

d.)  The type of ship, its carrying capacity and measurements.

e.)   The name(s) of the owner or the owners, nick-name, occupation, religion, nationality and address, as well as the share of each shareholder.

f.)    The name of the owning company, the type of activity, headquarters, names and addresses of their board members, directors and all other necessary information which can help in checking the fulfillment of the conditions stated in Article 14 of this law.

g.)  The name of the ship master, his nationality, residence and qualifications.

h.)  The name of carrier, his nationality and address.

i.)    Mortgage, if any, its date, name of mortgagee, mortgager and creditor, his nick-name, occupation, nationality and address.

j.)    All data in regard to impoundment of the ship, if any.

2. The Minister shall issue a decision on the application form.

Article 28:

The applicant should attach along with the application, all necessary documents as proof that all data included in his application is correct.  He should also submit a certificate regarding cancellation of the registration of the ship from the foreign ship’s list, in which she was registered before.  Registration office shall keep the documents or a copy thereof.

Article 29:

Application for registration should be submitted within 30 days of the date of the completion of the building of the ship or from the date of the transfer of ownership.  The above mentioned period shall start from the date of the entry of the ship in one of the country’s ports if the ship was built or owned abroad.  In this case, the country’s Consul in the place where the ship was built or owned or the Consul of the country at the nearest place can after checking all of its documents, grant the ship a provisional license to fly the country’s flag to sail directly and at once to one of the country’s ports for registration.  The consul can also for compelling reasons, grant approval for the ship to touch certain ports on its way to the country’s port.

Article 30:

The registration office shall post the statements of the application on the office’s announcement board and these shall be circulated to the country’s registration office.  Statements shall also be published in two local daily newspapers within 15 days of the announcement.

See Articles 31 and 32 for how to object to registration.

Article 33:

The registration office to which the registration application is submitted may, after consulting the administration, issue a provisional registration certificate valid for one trip and six months.

Article 34:

  1. If the registration office receives no complaint or receives a complaint after the expiry date, or if a complaint is rejected by the court, the registration office shall grant the owner of the ship a certificate including in it the data stated in the ship’s record and its telecommunications signal call.
  2. The certificate shall be kept on the ship and shall be presented to the administration or the registration offices for identifications whenever the ship arrives at one of the country’s ports.
  3. The Minister shall issue a decision determining the form of the registration certificate.


Article 35:

  1. If the registration certificate is lost or damaged, the registration office concerned shall issue a duplicate certificate at the request of the owner of the ship after confirming its loss or damage.
  2. If the certificate is damaged or lost while the ship is abroad, the owner, ship master or ship charter can obtain according to Article 29 a provisional certificate from the nearest Consulate of the country.  This license shall be valid until the ship concludes its trip according to the scheduled time table of returns to the port of registration whichever is earlier.


Article 36:

The owner, captain, or ship carrier of the ship should send written notification to the nearest registration office in the country’s port or the nearest Consulate if the ship is abroad about any change in the registration certificate within 30 days of the change.  He shall attach the appropriate documents providing that the new data is correct.  The concerned parties shall ratify the new changes and shall immediately inform the registration office about the changes so that they may be included in the ship’s pages.

Article 37:

  1. Any complaint shall be registered in the registration pages of the ship and the plaintiff should notify the concerned registration office immediately about the allegations.  The court’s decision on the case should also be registered in the registration pages.
  2. Complaints shall be cancelled from the pages on the agreement of the concerned authorities.
  3. The applicant for cancellation shall be granted a free certificate recording the cancellation.


Article 38:

  1. If the ship sinks, is burned or broken, seized by the enemy or damaged, the owner, charterer or ship master should inform the registration office within 30 days of the occurrence of the accident and hand over the registration certificate, if possible.
  2. If the ownership of the ship is transferred to a foreigner, or if the shop loses its nationality, the authority stated in the above paragraph should be informed within the period mentioned in the above paragraph.  The registration certificate should also be returned to the said authority.  If this happens while the ship is abroad, the certificate should be handed over to the nearest Consulate to be returned to the concerned registration office.
  3. The registration office shall in such cases, cancel the ship’s registration for the ship’s register.


Article 39:

  1. If the registration of a ship is cancelled, its documents shall be kept in perpetuity.
  2. The Minister shall issue a decision determining the procedures relating to the safekeeping of the documents and the concerned authority responsible for their safekeeping.


Article 40:

Whosoever is concerned can ask for a certificate containing the data stated in the ship’s register from the concerned registration office after payment of the fees fixed for this purpose.

Article 41:

1. After registering the ship, the owner shall:-

a.)  Write the name of the ship and the port of registration on the faces of the bow and stern of the ship.

b.)  Engrave the registration number and net load on the main beam of the ship.

c.)   Engrave the draught of the ship at the bow and stem.

The names, figures, and letters should be written in Arabic and Latin.

2. At the request of the owner, the Minister can exempt the registered ships and installations according to paragraph (3) of the Article 18 from some or all of these procedures.

See Article 42 and 43 for fees.

UAE Laws and Islamic Finance

Laws of the UAE and Islamic Finance