What Is Nationality Of A Ship?

Every ship is registered with a country. By nationality of the ship we mean the country the ship is registered with. The country of origin (manufacturing) might not always be the nationality of the ship. In today’s world the registration of a ship is mandatory.

Ship’s Passport

Like we all need a passport in order to travel internationally. The ships also need a registration. This registration is called the nationality of a ship. It is like a passport for the ship. The country where the ship is registered to is called the flag state. When the ship is registered in the United Kingdom it is automatically bound by the laws of the country.

Flag State of Ships

Flag State of Ships

The registration of the ships is done by the government bodies. In some countries even private bodies can register the ships. The country where the ship is registered with has to check the ship for pollution prevention. These countries should also check safety of the ship and the crew. If there is any problem with the ship the country where it was registered has to intervene.

Make Ships Answerable

There are numbers of ships in the sea. It is almost impossible to track all of them. This is exactly why it is very important that the nationality of the ship is determined. In the olden days when the ship was not registered it was noticed that a lot of illegal practices were becoming very popular in these ships. Activities like smuggling were on the rise. If the ships were caught it was difficult to hold anyone or any particular body responsible. This made it necessary that the ships are given a nationality. This ensured that if the ship was caught the country where the ship belonged to could be traced. The government of that country was answerable for the ships activities.

Marine Life

With the rise in pollution at the sea many innocent animals have lost their lives. This is exactly why the nationality of the ship ensured that we know whom to hold responsible if a ship was creating high level of pollution in the water. The assignment of nationality to the ships has reduced pollution considerably.

UNCLOS   Convention (1958)

Looking at all these points in the year 1958 it was decided that all the ships must have a nationality to them. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) clearly mentions that all the ships must be registered with a country and have a nationality. All the major shipping companies of the world agreed to the same. All the ships that you see today in the high sea have a nationality. They all have a flag state that operate them and is directly responsible for their activities. There is provision to do an online registration for the ships too. In cases of some ships the concept of nationality gets complicated as there is a provision of dual citizenship too.

Terrorist Activities

The concept of nationality is not confined only to ships. The concept of nationality also works for aircrafts. Nowadays another major threat is of terrorism. This is another reason why many ships are given a nationality so that it can be traced to which country the ship belonged to in case of a terrorist attack. If the ships are not registered they are considered not compliant with the international shipping laws. The nationality of the ships is essential for the smooth operation of the ships and also for the better security of the sea.


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