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Legal System

The legal system in Jamaica is based on English Common Law, with the Shipping Act 1998 being the primary legislation governing the regulation and development of domestic and international shipping.

The Shipping Act 1998 established the Maritime Authority of Jamaica as a statutory body with separate legal existence to administer the registration of ships, regulate matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers and to administer policy for the development of shipping in general. The Shipping Act specifically incorporates provisions relating to the registration of ships, ownership requirements and mortgage registration and enforcement, which allow for the commercial operation of an international ship registry within a sound legal framework. The Shipping (Registration of Ships) Regulations 2006 makes provision for Bareboat (In) and (Out) Registration.

Importantly the Shipping Act implements the IMO and ILO conventions which Jamaica has ratified and special provisions have been incorporated which allow for the timely incorporation of new conventions and amendments to existing conventions.

This ensures the continuation of Jamaica's determination to actively promote the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

The Shipping Act is supported by modern legislation governing admiralty jurisdiction and a cadre of Attorneys-At- Law, specializing in commercial and maritime law.

The Shipping Act has the advantage not only of being attractive to professionals in the international shipping community but also, of being administered by a Maritime Authority, committed to the highest levels of flag state responsibility and the operation of a high quality ship register.

Double Taxation Treaties

Jamaica has also entered into Double Taxation Agreements with major shipping countries namely; USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, China, Israel, France, Spain and Caribbean Communities Countries, and continues to negotiate agreements with other leading Maritime States.

Other Agreements

Bilateral agreements which provide the framework for co-operation in the area of shipping including the facilitation of maritime traffic and the welfare of crew employed on ships calling at the ports of those states have also been established. These states include Ukraine, Norway & Cuba.

The recently signed European Partnership Agreements also entitles Jamaican registered ships to receive preferential treatment for the payment of port dues when calling at Italian Ports.


Yachts flying the Jamaican flag will also enjoy preferential treatment at U.S.A and French ports.

Company Formation

In 2005 the Companies Act was passed which provides for the incorporation of Limited Liability Companies with a single document known as Articles of Incorporation. Companies may be managed by a sole director and there are no nationality restrictions on the share ownership of Jamaican Companies.

The Jamaica Ship Registry (JSR) however recognizes the need to give its ship owners the freedom to use the corporate vehicle of their choice so the use of a Jamaican company is optional. Owners may therefore use Foreign Maritime entities and foreign corporations to own and operate Jamaican ships.

Classification Societies (Class)

Safety of life at sea is given the highest priority and agreements have been entered into with members of the International Association of Classification Societies (see below). An agreement has been also signed with Hellenic Register of Shipping Company and Isthmus Bureau of Shipping to carry out specified Statutory Certification Services.

List of Classification Societies

1. American Bureau of Shipping
2. Bureau Veritas
3. China Classification Society (exclusive to Chinese-owned ships)
4. Det Norske Veritas
5. Germanischer Lloyd

6. Isthmus Bureau of Shipping
7. Korean Register Of Shipping
8. Lloyd's Register of Shipping
9. Nippon Kaiji Kyokal
10. Polish Register of Shipping (PRS )
11. Registro Italiano Navale
12. Russian Maritime Register Of Shipping
13. International Naval Survey of Bureau

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