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Selling Your Boat? Filing Your 'Ships Papers' is Where You Start

2nd May 2020
Yacht papers are required if you are selling your vessel Yacht papers are required if you are selling your vessel

The current “in house” constraints presents an opportunity to check on your “Ships Papers” and follow up on any missing documents writes yacht broker Ronan Beirne of Leinster Boats

At some future date perhaps in years to come you may decide to sell your boat and the prospect of the transaction being held up or indeed cancelled due to missing documents is something that can be avoided with attention now to your “Ships Papers” Set out below is what is required to ensure a complete file record.

The original purchase invoice and receipt clearly showing the VAT paid is where you start. Accompanying this on your file should be the Builders Certificate and certificate of conformity or “CE” cert. These are often bound into the front of the original manufacturer’s handbook. Following on from the builder's certificate there should be a “Bill of Sale” for each transfer of ownership up and to when you purchased the vessel.

Certificate Registration Ship IrelandThe Certificate of Irish Registry

A yacht or motor vessel that is on the official Government “Register of Ships” should have its “Certificate of Registration”. This document is in a hardcover green folder with the state harp embossed. For older vessels registered in the UK, this will be in a dark blue folder. It is important to ensure that you have advised the Registrar of Ships that you took over ownership of the boat and to ensure that the registrar has your current address on their records and on the certificate. If not, get the record updated.

When you purchased the vessel you would have commissioned a pre-purchase survey. This should be on your file backed up by any old surveys pertaining to the boat which you may have received with the purchase.

For a racing or one-design yacht, ensure that you have a measurement certificate in your name, this is issued by the ISA or RYA in Northern Ireland. Similarly, your most recent IRC Certificate should also be with your ships papers. In this section, you could also put your most recent liferaft certificate. This would also be a good place to put your VHF license and documents relating to your EPIRB.

Since purchasing your boat, perhaps you have sold on shares to another person, crew, friend or family. In such circumstances, you need to make out a “Bill of Sale” to the new partner. Shares in “ships” are traditionally made up of 64 parts or shares. A partner may have any number of 64ths depending on what you have agreed.

Invoices and receipts for items of major expenditure should be maintained. Items such as a replacement engine, sails, rig and or spars. Additional equipment such as a liferaft, electronic navigation kit, yacht cradle etc should be on file. It is also good practice to retain all expenditure receipts pertaining to the yachts maintenance. Replacements, engine service, sail repairs and other incidentals.

Ronan Beirne Leinster boatsRonan Beirne of Leinster boats

The most practical method of keeping all of your “Ships Papers” together is to have them on a lever file with dividers between each section. Start at the back where you will have the builders certificate, Vat Invoice and the “Bills of Sale”. This can be followed by the “Survey” section. Next a place for your measurement certs. Following that invoices for major expenditure items which enhance the boat inventory. Finally, you will have your current routine “expenditure” receipts that can be placed on top.

Now that you have filed all of your “Ships Papers” together in an easy reference file, a good time to scan all documents and set up a file on your hard drive, job done and all shipshape. The day will come when you will need all of this information to hand and you have now saved yourself time, effort and perhaps some grief for the future date.

Fair winds and happy sailing, hopefully before not too long.

Ronan Beirne

About The Author

Ronan Beirne

Email The Author

Dublin Bay sailor Ronan Beirne runs Leinster Boats, an Irish Yacht brokerage firm based in Dun Laoghaire. Leinster Boats is part of Network Yacht Brokers with 20 offices in the UK & Mediterranean. Over 700 boat available.

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