Registering a boat or yacht for leisure use
If you own a vessel in the UK which you intend to go to sea with, you can register it with the UK Ship Register. The Small Ships Register (Part III) has been developed for UK pleasure vessel owners who may wish to take their vessel into international waters, and have peace of mind they can prove the vessel’s nationality easily.
Any eligible UK resident owning a boat or yacht for personal leisure use, that is less than 24 metres in length overall (LOA), and who are ordinarily resident in the UK for 185 days in a 12 month period, can join the Small Ships Register no matter where in the world the boat is based.
Or watch our short video on first time registration below.
Why should you register your boat or craft for leisure use?
Registering your vessel with the Small Ships Register provides an inexpensive, simple registration, which proves the boat’s nationality and can help prove ownership.
Registration is not compulsory but there are many cases where you may find it beneficial:
You can prove your boat’s nationality when sailing outside of UK waters.
Some marinas and ports abroad may require you to prove you are the owner of the boat before allowing you access. Registration is a simple way to prove this.
If your vessel is stolen, damaged or goes missing, registration can assist authorities and/or emergency services to trace the owner(s) and get the vessel back to you.
Registration may also help with insurance or registering a claim in the event of an incident.
How much does it cost to register your boat or craft for private leisure use?
The fee to register a boat on the Small Ships Register is £35.00 and lasts 5 years.
How to register your leisure boat or craft
You can register as an individual or with multiple owners. If you are registering a group of owners, the Bill of Sale and Application to Register should include all owners and their signatures. The online system will send all correspondence to the first listed owner who made the account.
Once you have provided all required information, made the payment and your application has been assessed and approved, you will receive your Certificate of Registration via email or post.
It is your responsibility to have your registration number, as assigned by the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, placed somewhere visible on your boat.
Before you start your online application
Before you register your boat or yacht for private leisure use, you’ll need to have the following information to hand.
- Vessel name
- Details of all *owners, including email addresses
- Official number if previously registered (beginning with SSR if Small Ships Registered, or a set of numbers if Part I Commercial Registered)
- Type of boat e.g. Motor Yacht, Sailing Yacht, wet boat, sport boats etc
- Make/Model of boat and number of hulls
- Length overall (in metres)
- Hull Identification Number (HIN) if appropriate
* If you wish to register with multiple owners using the online system, each owner will need to create their own account which will be linked to your vessel by our Customer Service Advisors once registration is complete. The online system will ask if all owners have made their own account.
Documents you’ll need to submit with your online application:
Bill of Sale (with owner(s) information and signature(s)
Declaration of Eligibility - MSF 4701 Rev 1118 (you only need to fill in the declaration section at the bottom of page 2)
Going afloat safely
Once you’ve completed your registration, take a look at the handy guidance from our colleagues at HM Coastguard on how to remain safe at sea, following basic guidelines could save your life or the lives of others.
There is a variety of guidance materials available, covering radio and communications, navigational safety, personal safety and the wearing of life jackets.
Important Regulations for any vessel proceeding to sea
There are international regulations which apply to all vessels going to sea, irrespective of size, such as:
- COLREGS (Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972)
- SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974).
Stay in touch
To assist The Coastguard in locating you in an emergency, consider downloading the Royal Yachting Association’s SafeTrx app or registering your details on the RYA’s SafeTrx website. It is HM Coastguard’s official voluntary safety identification scheme. It’s a FREE service for owners and skippers of all types of leisure vessels and small craft. Signing up to SafeTrx will give HM Coastguard the information that they need to get you an even swifter response in an emergency.
What is the criteria to register my boat in the UK?
The vessel is under 24 metres Length Overall (LOA).
You are ordinarily resident in the UK for 185 days in a 12-month period.
You will be using it for leisure purposes, such as personal excursions and/or club racing.
It will only be used by the owners and close friends and family for no fee charged.
How do I search for my vessel on the UK Ship Register?
If the vessel has been registered with the UKSR previously you are able to search for it using an *SSR number 'Claim my Vessel' on the online system, through your account.
‘Claiming’ your vessel is very simple. It means linking the vessel to your customer account by providing proof that you own it, such as by uploading a Bill of Sale document.
*Type in the whole number which will be between 3 to 5 numbers including “SSR”. For example: SSR54321. There should be no spaces before or after SSR or the whole number, else this may return a result of zero.
What do I need to apply for Small Ships Registration?
Is this the right Registration for you? Check the definition of pleasure vessels (Small Ships) here.
How to get started
Your first step will be to complete an application to register on Part III (MSF 4701 Rev 1118), which provides us with the necessary information to check if the ship and the owner are eligible for UK registration.
Required documents for Part III Registration
- Application to Register and Declaration of Eligibility – MSF 4701 Rev 1118
- Bill of Sale – MSF 4705
- Builders Certificate (for new builds) - MSF 4743
- Deletion certificate/transcript from the current register
- Payment of £35 for 5 years
We also can be contacted on +44 (0)20 3908 5200.
To check requirements for other parts of the Register click here https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register
How do I renew my Part 3 Small Ships (pleasure vessel) registration?
How to get started
You can fill out an online renewal application through your vessel registration account, provided your registration is within 3 months of its expiry.
Please note that you will have had to previously claim your vessel through your account in order to fill in online applications. See how to Claim your Vessel here.
The online form will prompt you to upload evidence of payment. See information about paying the renewal fee below.
Renewal by Post
When your registration reaches within 3 months of the date of expiry, the UKSR Online Registration System will automatically trigger a notice of Registration Renewal with an accompanying form (MSF 1306).
This will be sent to your registered home address/nominated first address, or to your nominated email address, if this was elected for on your account.
The renewal notice is very simple to fill in. It will require you to:
- Confirm your contact details, or update them if these have changed
- Confirm/agree that the ship remains eligible to be registered on the Small Ships Register (see Part 3 Small Ships Register eligibility here)
- Confirm/agree that there have been no changes in respect of the ownership of the ship or its British connection, and the ownership details are correct
- Provide the Hull Identification Number (HIN) if applicable to your ship (mandatory for vessels built on or after 1998)
- Confirm/agree that the information given in the form is true to the best of your (or all owners) knowledge and belief
Please ensure you read all pages of the renewal notice and form and obtain all owner signatures on page 3, before sending back to the Small Ships Register.
Return it with your current Certificate of Registry, plus payment of the renewal fee, by email to UKSR@mcga.gov.uk or send by post to:
Registry of Shipping and Seamen
Anchor Court, Keen Road
Please note: Any missing sections and/or lack of evidence of payment of the renewal fee of £35 for 5 years may slow your application, as we may need to contact you.
It costs £35 to renew your Small Ships Registration for 5 years.
You can pay using one of the following ways:
- Using the online payment link https://www.gov.uk/payments/maritime-and-coastguard-agency/ssr-renewal-of-registration. Please provide evidence of payment with your application to renew, such as by forwarding the email confirmation you will receive after successful payment of the fee with your application, if sending by email
- Send a cheque in the post to the address above
** Please ensure you write the vessel name and SSR number on the back of the cheque**
Important Information on Renewing – Renewal Period and Registration Expiry
If the renewal period has passed (after the date of expiry), the online system will have closed your vessel registration. You will now have to re-register though this a fairly simple; please send us via email or post the following, filled in and signed by all owners:
- Application to Register and Declaration of Eligibility (indicate re-registration) – MSF 4701 Rev 1118
- Bill of Sale – MSF 4705 (the same one used originally to register the vessel)
- Previous Certificate of Registry
- Proof of payment of the Re-registration fee £35 for 5 years (this could be the confirmation email you’ll receive upon successful online payment)
What if I do not wish to renew, or I'd like close my vessel registration?
Closing instead of renewing
If your vessel is approaching renewal and you have received the notice to renew from us, but you do not wish to renew, you do not have to do anything.
Your registration will be closed at the expiry of your registration and you will be sent the Closed Transcripts as proof of this.
Registry of Shipping and Seamen
Anchor Court, Keen Road
Cardiff CF24 5JW
Selling or sold your vessel?
If you have sold your vessel and therefore need to close the registration, let us know in writing via email or send us a letter and we will close your registration.
If the new owners wish to register the vessel, as the registered owner prior to selling the vessel, you should still let us know that you need to close the registration.
In the meantime, the new owners can begin the New Registration process for the vessel.
If you are the new owner(s) of a previously Small Ships registered vessel and wish to close the registration; you will need to advise via email or send us a letter that you wish to close the registration. Please provide a copy of the completed Bill of Sale (MSF 4705) with the owner we have on record (now previous), and the new owners named on it. With official proof of new ownership, we can close the registration.
New Owner – Keeping the vessel registered with UKSR Part III
If you are the new owner(s) of a previously Small Ships registered vessel and wish to keep it registered:
If possible, the (now previous) owner should let the Register know that they have sold the vessel in writing via email or letter.
However, the new owner can ‘Change the Ownership’ of the vessel without communications from the previous owner, so long as a Bill of Sale which has both the previous and new owner signatures on it is provided.
New Owner(s) of a previously Small Ships Registered vessel
The new owner can begin the registration process for the vessel to have it registered under their name.
In these circumstances, the process is a Change of Ownership because the vessel already has an SSR number, and therefore has been previously registered with the Small Ships Register.
Required Documents – New Owner of an existing Small Ships Registered Vessel
Before you register your boat or yacht for leisure use, you’ll need to have the following information to hand:
- Application to Register and Declaration of Eligibility - MSF 4701 Rev 1118 signed and completed
- Bill of Sale between the (now previous) owner and the new owner – MSF 4705
- Payment of Registration fee - £35 for 5 years
Once all correct documentation including proof of payment has been received and approved, you will be sent your new certificate via the first email address on your online vessel registration account.
Change of details
If you need to update any personal details such as your address, you can do this through your online account for free.
You can also let us know via an email to UKSR@mcga.gov.uk.
However, if you wish to change your vessel details it will require us to reissue your Certificate of Registry. An example of this is changing your vessel name. If a reissued Certificate is needed, there is a fee of £35 which can be paid using this link: https://www.gov.uk/payments/maritime-and-coastguard-agency/ssr-change-of-details
You can also do this through your online account, where you will need to upload proof of payment of the £35 fee on your request to change vessel details.
Or, you can get in contact with the Small Ships Register via email or letter requesting the change, and send proof of payment of the Change of Details fee with your request. This can be paid using the same Change of Details payment link - https://www.gov.uk/payments/maritime-and-coastguard-agency/ssr-change-of-details
You can request different types of Transcripts for Small Ships Registered vessels.
However, if you are not the legal current owner of the vessel, the transcript will have all owner details redacted to comply with the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018.
SSR Historic Transcript- £46.00
SSR Current OR Closed Transcript- £29.00