MARINA revises rules on licensing of ships for international voyages

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  • The Maritime Industry Authority has revised its rules on the acquisition, registration, documentation, and licensing of ships for international voyages
  • MARINA Memorandum Circular No. OS-2023-01 aims to rationalize and streamline the rules and documentary requirements for ships registered under the Philippine flag

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has revised rules on the acquisition, registration, documentation, and licensing of ships for international voyages.

MARINA Memorandum Circular (MC) No. OS-2023-01—signed February 6 and published on February 9—aims to rationalize and streamline the rules and documentary requirements for ships registered under the Philippine flag.

The government maritime industry authority issued the new directive to help strengthen shipping services for the export and import trade, as well as to promote and expand the country’s registry of ships to enable shipping companies to compete globally.

The MC applies to all shipping companies/entities that will acquire and register ships under the Philippines for international voyages.

The new guideline repeals MC Nos. 182, 2012-12, 2015-01, and OS-2019-01. Any provision of the Philippine Merchant Marine Rules and Regulations, MC 90, and other existing MARINA rules and regulations that are inconsistent with MC OS-2023-01 are also modified accordingly.

The Philippines exercises exclusive jurisdiction and control over ships registered under its flag. Ships registered pursuant to MC OS-2023-01 will be issued a Certificate of Philippine Registry (CPR) in accordance with the PMMRR, as amended.

The shipping company or other maritime enterprises should comply with all laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to Philippine-registered ships.

Only companies which have complied with requirements under the MC may bareboat charter ships under Executive Order No. 667 and Presidential Decree 76, as amended.

Bareboat charter refers to the arrangement of hiring a vessel without administration or technical maintenance included in the agreement.

Still part of the requirements is being accredited under MC 181, and its subsequent amendments, provided the accreditation should be maintained either for the period, that is, has a bareboat charter or has acquired a ship under any of the other modes of acquisition.

Capital requirements

The shipping company is also required to comply with the paid-up capital requirements provided by law. For companies with owned ships, the required equity capital is still P7 million, while companies with 10 ships and below must have an equity capital of P10 million. For companies with more than 10 ships, the paid-up capital requirement is P15 million.

Ships registered under the new MC OS-2023-01 must still be completely manned by Filipino crew, except in cases as may be determined by MARINA. A Philippine-registered ship may, under circumstances determined by MARINA, have on board supernumeraries provided they will not perform any of the functions of the crew nor interfere with the operation/management of the ship for six months.

All ships registered under MC OS-2023-01 must be maintained in class by a member of the International Association of Classification Societies.  The London-based IACS establishes minimum technical standards and requirements that address maritime safety and environmental protection and ensures their consistent application.

Ships registered under the new circular—when calling for the first time at a Philippine port—should be inspected by authorized MARINA surveyors.

For bareboat charters, any foreign-owned ship may be registered in the Philippine registry through a bareboat charter agreement contracted by a Philippine national upon approval by MARINA.

A ship will be registered under MC OS-2023-01 for a period of not less than one year, similar to what was in MC 182.

The new directive also governs the registration of a ship under a lease-irrevocable purchase arrangement. A ship subject to such an arrangement will be treated as a bareboat chartered ship and can be considered as owned only after the full purchase price has been paid.

The MC likewise governs registration of a ship acquired through importation and will be issued a permanent Certificate to Ownership and Minimum Safe Manning Certificate valid for five years upon the submission of the Protocol of Delivery and Acceptance.

All ships registered under MC OS-2023-01 should not be deleted from the Philippine registry, or in case of bareboat chartered ship, be reverted to its foreign flag or registry, without prior approval of MARINA.

For the processing fees, provisions of MCs 2015-01, 2018-03, and their subsequent amendments apply.

The imposition of fines and penalties will be based on the latest and existing MARINA MCs. – Roumina Pablo