Yacht registration in Cyprus

Updated: February 08, 2024

From antiquity, the sea and seafaring have been a source of commercial opportunity and a part of Cyprus life. In this guide, you will find all the information needed for yacht registration in Cyprus.

The Cyprus Flag

The Cyprus flag carries many benefits:

  • Cyprus is a European Union (EU) flag state and is classified in the white list of the Paris and Tokyo MOUs (white-listed, high-quality flag).
  • Cyprus is a signatory to all the international maritime conventions that guarantee navigation standards and quality. Also, it belongs to several bilateral agreements whereby Cyprus yachts are given national or favoured nation treatment at ports.
  • Paperwork and documentation are done in the English language.
  • According to statistics from the Shipping Deputy Ministry(dms.gov.cy), the Cyprus Register has the 3rd largest fleet in the EU and the 11th worldwide.
  • Limassol, at the heart of Cyprus maritime life, is the largest third-party management centre in the EU.
  • The Cyprus flag has performed positively in all the indicators of the International Chamber of Shipping for 2022/23, including port state control and ratification of conventions.
  • Cyprus yacht tax is low. Also, there are tax incentives for registering a yacht in Cyprus; see below.

Note that the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not a recognized state and has no status in the international community. Therefore, no yacht can be legally registered under its flag.

Costs, VAT, and yacht tax benefits

Registration costs and fees are low. For example, a 300 EUR fee per annum is paid to the Shipping Deputy Ministry.

The Republic of Cyprus has one of the most attractive VAT on yacht systems in the EU. Under the VAT scheme for yachts, the VAT rate can be as low as 3.4% of the yacht’s value (8.5% highest).

Other yacht tax benefits include:

  • A low tonnage tax, payable by all vessels;
  • No tax on the operational or management profits on qualifying Cyprus-registered ships;
  • No tax on the income of a qualifying owner received from the operation of a qualifying ship;
  • No tax on dividends from earnings from the operation, management, or sale of a commercial yacht.

Note that a commercial yacht is a qualifying ship; a private yacht is not.

Commercial and private small vessels (up to 15 metres in length and speed of at least 15 knots an hour) need a circulation license from the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry. The license of commercial yachts must be renewed annually. The license of private yachts is renewable every five years. Renewal is done with an inspection. Commercial yachts are classified as Category A. Private yachts are Category B. The forms are submitted to the Deputy Ministry of Shipping offices in Limassol or via email at maritimeadmin@dms.gov.cy. The fee is EUR 51,26 for each inspection. The forms are downloadable from dms.gov.cy.

Also in need of licenses are:

  • The operator of the small vessel and
  • Radio communications.

Relevant legislation

The relevant legislation for ship registration in Cyprus is:

  • Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships, Sales and Mortgages) Laws 1963-2005;
  • Merchant Shipping (Masters and Seamen) Laws 1963-2002;
  • Merchant Shipping (Fees and Taxing Provisions) Law of 2010-2020.
  • The High-Speed Small Vessels Regulations of 1999, P.I. 121/1999.
  • The High-Speed Small Vessels Laws of 1992 to 1999 (56(I)/1992).

Basics of yacht registration in Cyprus

The same rules apply to yachts, ships, and other vessels.

Cyprus has three types of registration: provisional, permanent, and parallel.

  • Provisional registration: is for 6 months, renewable once for 3 months. It can happen at the Registry, or in any of the consular posts of Cyprus, with the help of consular officers.
  • Permanent registration: this is the most common type of registration. If the vessel was previously registered in a foreign registry, a certificate of deletion from that previous Registry would be required.
  • Parallel registration: two categories; parallel-in and parallel-out.
  • Parallel-in registration is where foreign vessels belonging to a Cyprus shipping company under a bareboat charter are granted the Cyprus flag for 2 years (renewable). Such a foreign-registered ship is registered in the Special Book of Parallel Registration.
  • Parallel-out registration is when owners of Cyprus vessels bareboat charter the vessel to a foreign company or person for parallel registration in a foreign register for the length of the charterparty.

Note: A charterparty is a contract to lease a ship. A bareboat charter is when the owner leases the vessel to the charterer for a fixed period; the charterer is responsible for the crew, fuel, insurance, and maintenance.

Applications to register and necessary documents

Where: Registrar of Cyprus Ships (Shipping Deputy Ministry).

The list of necessary documents is long and includes:

  • Application for registration,
  • Declaration of Owner,
  • a Builder’s Certificate,
  • a Bill of Sale.

Other documents depend on the case.

The complete list (20+ documents as of 26.10.2023) at: https://www.dms.gov.cy/

Note that the vessel must be certified in accordance with IMO instruments before applying.

Who can own a yacht to register in Cyprus?

Citizens of Cyprus or a company established in Cyprus; or,

Citizens of the EU/ European Economic Area (EEA) or a company registered within those and have appointed an authorized representative in Cyprus or have given the management of the yacht to a Cyprus ship management company; or,

Corporations registered outside the EU/ EEA but controlled by EU citizens and appoint an authorized representative in Cyprus.

Ownership requirements:

  • More than 50% of the shares in the yacht are owned by a Cypriot citizen, an EU or EEA citizen; or
  • Total amount of shares are owned by one or more companies that are established under the laws of Cyprus; or
  • Total amount of shares owned by an EU Member State or an EEA Member State company or companies which have appointed an authorized representative in Cyprus or have entrusted the management of the ship to a Cyprus shipping company; or
  • Total amount of shares owned by a company or companies established outside the EU/ EEA but are owned by Cypriot/EU/EEA citizens and which have appointed an authorized representative in Cyprus or have entrusted the management of the ship to a Cyprus shipping company.


If you are not a permanent resident in the Republic, consult and appoint an authorized representative in Cyprus to determine the application requirements. The authorized representative can be:

  • a Cypriot citizen;
  • Citizen of other Member State resident in Cyprus;
  • Partnership/ corporation established per Cyprus legislation. For this reason, it is common for persons wishing to register a vessel in Cyprus to incorporate a company in Cyprus first (dms.gov.cy).

Pay fees and taxes (registration costs). The fee for small vessels is EUR 34,17.

Submit documentation for approval.

The list of documents can be found here at dms.gov.cy.

Grounds for rejection

  • Ship banned on Port State Control Grounds;
  • Ship detained on at least 3 occasions during 2 years before the application on Port State Control groups/ US Coast Guard/ States of Memoranda of Understanding.
  • Ship used and constructed exclusively for inland navigation (internal waters, canals, dams, etc.).
  • The yacht’s age exceeds the age limit, currently 35 years.

Source: Cyprus Government Policy on the Registration of Ships, Annex 1, dms.gov.cy.

Yacht Classification Societies or Class Societies

For some types of registration, you need confirmation from a classification society.

A classification society ensures that a vessel follows certain construction, design, and technology requirements.

The confirmation certificate does not guarantee seaworthiness or safety, only that the yacht complies with society’s rules. However, the certificate increases the price of a vessel and lowers the insurance premium.

Societies are independent bodies with no commercial interests.

Ten of the most famous of these societies, including Lloyd’s Register and Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, are represented by IACS (International Association of Classification Societies) based in London. The IACS (iacs.org.uk) was the original yacht classification society.

Others include the Chinese Classification Society (CCS) and the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS).

Our services

Under Cyprus law, only lawyers registered with the Cyprus Bar Association can draft the documents necessary to carry out the registry transactions for ships and vessels.

Our team of professional lawyers provides a variety of legal services and is able to help you with all the relevant requirements, giving expert advice on every aspect of yacht and ship registration in Cyprus.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to register a yacht in Cyprus?

Small vessels pay a registration fee of EUR 34,17. All vessels registered in Cyprus pay an annual fee of EUR 300 to the Deputy Shipping Ministry. Yearly, commercial vessels pay tax according to tonnage. There is a circulation licensing fee of EUR 51,26 annually for commercial small vessels and once every five years for private small vessels. There are additional licensing fees for the operator and the radio on board. Small vessels are those which are up to 15 metres in length and which have a speed of at least 15 knots an hour.

What are the yacht registration requirements for Cyprus?

Any vessel to be registered in Cyprus needs to satisfy ownership requirements: 1) more than 50% of the ownership must belong to a Cypriot/ EU/ EEA citizen or to a third country national (TCN) who has appointed an authorised representative in the Republic. 2) Legal persons registered and having an office in the Republic, registered within the EEA but have an authorised representative in the Republic, or registered in a third country but are controlled by Cypriot citizens or TCNs who have an authorised representative in the Republic. The applicant must submit the relevant form and documentation (see here at dms.gov.cy) and pay the registration fee of EUR 34,17. Note that there are licensing fees for the small vessel, the operator and the radio. It is also necessary to comply with the safety standards set in the High-Speed Small Vessel Regulations 1999, P.I. 121/99.

What are the main reasons to register a vessel under the Cyprus flag?

The Cyprus flag offers the protection of an EU member state and is classified in the white list of all the major MOUs (areas agreeing to port state control and safety standards). Moreover, Cyprus is a tourist and commercial centre, ideal whether you wish to holiday, relocate or carry out a business. It has a favourable tax system and an environment excellent for entrepreneurs. Ports are safe and well-regulated, while the Mediterranean seascapes are astonishing.

Where should you register a yacht in Cyprus?

Applications must be submitted to the Registrar of Cyprus Ships at the head office of the Shipping Deputy Ministry in Limassol. Provisional registration may be effected abroad by a Cyprus consular officer. Fees and taxes must be paid before registration. Only lawyers licensed by and practising under the Cyprus Bar Association can draft the documentation and carry out the registration transaction.

What does it mean to register your vessel under an open registry?

According to the International Maritime Association (IMO), a country keeps an “open registry” when it allows foreign-owned or controlled vessels to use its flag. There is no genuine link between the flag state and the vessel, yet the flag state allows registration. When the vessel is on high seas, it will fly the flag of that state, and the laws of that state will apply to the vessel and crew. Open registries are often linked to lax state laws, substandard work conditions and lack of accountability for pollution, crimes and other matters. The state flag is negatively named a “flag of convenience”. Criticism has led some countries to abandon open registries and turn themselves to closed registry states. Nevertheless, it does not mean that a ship has bad conditions simply because it is using a flag of convenience.

What are the types of yacht registries?

Yacht registries are ship registries; there is no special registry for yachts, though countries like Cyprus keep small vessel records. There are open, closed and hybrid registry systems, though there is no harmonised international system or a single definition of a “genuine link” between vessel and state. Open registries do not have nationality requirements for the vessel. Closed registries have ownership requirements. They maintain the country’s regulatory standards and may have relaxed crew nationality rules. International, or hybrid, systems allow for more flexibility but ask for a link between state and vessel owner.

Is parallel yacht registration possible in Cyprus?

Yes. It is possible to register the bareboat charter of a foreign ship in the Republic in the Special Book of Parallel Registration (“parallel-in registration”). It is also possible to register the bareboat charter of a Cyprus ship in a foreign registry (“parallel-out registration”). In such a case, permission from the authorities of the foreign state is required.

Is it necessary to have the vessel in Cyprus for inspection before or during the provisional registration?

No. The ship must be at a port or anchorage during provisional registration to be inspected. The ship doesn't need to be actually in Cyprus.

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