Admiralty Law in the Bahamas: Contact the Bahamas Admiralty and Maritime Law Firm ParrisWhittaker

Admiralty Law in the Bahamas: Contact the Bahamas Admiralty and Maritime Law Firm ParrisWhittaker

It’s only around 30 years since the first ship was registered in The Bahamas.  But today, the Register of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is one of the world's largest with more than 1500 vessels registered here since the Merchant Shipping Act was passed in 1976.

The BMA registers vessels, enforces ship safety requirements and works to continually monitor and improve standards.  And the expert admiralty lawyers at ParrisWhittaker have years of experience advising shipping companies on their responsibilities, and providing strategic legal advice when disputes have arisen.

The Law

The Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) and the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act (both 1976) are based on UK legislation.  In the same year, The Bahamas joined the International Maritime Organisation, and became a party to important conventions relating to safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.  These include Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea and SOLAS.

Applications for registration

Ship registration can take place through the Nassau, New York or the London office of the BMA.  ParrisWhittaker will advise on the most appropriate office to register your vessel based on your specific circumstances.  As owner, you must submit a written application for registration, although it is helpful to note that individuals and corporations can authorise an agent of their choice to do the application for registration on their behalf including signing documentation.   On registration, the Registrar becomes administrator of the ship. 

Foreign owner ships

We can advise on registration of vessels in foreign owner ships.  The MSA provides that a foreign owned ship is eligible to be registered in The Bahamas.  The shipping lawyers at Parris Whittaker have years of experience advising on inspection, certification and ownership of vessels, taxation and customs duties.  We also advise on applications to transfer ownership of vessels.


There are clear legal requirements relating to shipping crew and shipping officers under the MSA and The Applied Regulations. The Regulations govern the:

  • competency of officers;
  • seamen contractual arrangements;
  • discipline; and
  • accommodation of crew.

These issues are highly important to ensure the safety of crew and passengers at sea.  We can advise on each of these issues as well as the specific requirements on Certificates of Competency for officers.

For expert, strategic legal advice on admiralty law and shipping matters in the Bahamas, contact the experienced maritime and litigation lawyers at Parris Whittaker.