16 September 2013

Registering Your Boat (Pt 1) - New Zealand

New Zealand Flag
 It has the British Union Jack in the upper left corner and
the four stars represent the Southern Cross constellation (the Crux)
Our current sailboat in New Zealand isn't registered, but that's okay because we don't have any plans to take her offshore or race her locally. She looks to have been registered at one time with Yachting New Zealand as her sails have a number on them. If you want race your boat in New Zealand then you have to register her with Yachting New Zealand otherwise you can't participate in any official races. It will cost you NZ$55 to change the ownership or boat name if the boat was previously registered. For a new boat or a boat that hasn't been previously registered, it will cost you NZ$105 which includes allocation of a sail number. It is a one off fee and you don't have to re-register annually. Not that much money in the scheme of things but not something we plan on investing in. Sorry Scott, racing on our boat just isn't going to happen. 

However, when we upgrade next year and buy a new boat in the States, we will need to register her as she will be sailed offshore. Registration basically confers nationality on your boat and makes her subject to the laws of the country under which she is flagged. We're Americans by birth, hold dual citizenship with Ireland and are permanent residents of New Zealand so we'll have some choices about where we register our new boat. So here is the scoop on what you need to do if you want to register your boat in New Zealand.

First off, don't bother with Yachting New Zealand. If you plan on taking your boat offshore, it is Maritime New Zealand (or "No Te Rere Moana Aotearoa" as it is known in Maori) that you need to deal with to get your boat on the New Zealand Register of Ships. Some people have to register their boats and some people are entitled to register their boats. There are two types of registration - Part A and Part B. Part A is aimed principally at large commercial vessels and provides nationality to your boat and proves ownership. It is also used if you have a mortgage on your boat. Part B only provides nationality to your boat and generally applies to pleasure vessels. If you plan on taking your pleasure boat overseas and it is New Zealand owned, then you must register her under either Part A or Part B. Because we aren't New Zealand citizens, our boat would not be "New Zealand owned" so we aren't obliged to register her under either Part A or Part B. But we are entitled to register our boat under Part B because we are permanent residents. Basically, they can't make us register our boat, but we can if we want to. As I don't like being told what to do, this is the perfect scenario.

So if we do want to register our boat, here is what we would need to do. First, you get a copy of the handy "Guide to Ship Registration" from Maritime New Zealand. Then you read the section where it says that "registration entails a certain amount of paperwork and the payment of fees" and you decide to set up a competition to see which government bureaucracy (New Zealand, Ireland and USA) will require the most amount of paperwork and who charges the most. It will be interesting to see who wins this one. My bets are on the American government based solely on how many pages of guidelines the IRS prints every year to "help" you complete your tax return. Personally, I never find the guidelines helpful, only confusing.

Okay, to register a boat under Part B, you need the following:
  • Form SR3 (the registration application)
  • Fee of NZ$720
  • Evidence that any registration in another country has been closed

Form SR3 is only one page long. Writing neatly in BLOCK LETTERS, you have to tell them what type of boat it is, if she has previously been registered, how many hulls she has, how long she is and the owners' details including name(s), address, number of shares of the boat owned and nationality. You also get to include your top three choices for the name of your boat making sure that your proposed name isn't:
  • offensive
  • the name of members of the Royal family
  • the name "New Zealand" without a prefix or suffix
  • a name that falsely suggests a connection with the Royal family, international, national or local government bodies
So I guess the Prince George of New Zealand is off the table. We'll have to come up with an alternative!

If your application is successful, your boat will be registered for a period of five years after which you need to renew it and pay Maritime New Zealand more money. Within one month of being registered you have to paint the registration number along with the words "New Zealand" on the stern or on each side of the hull. And then you get to fly the New Zealand flag - you have a choice of the official flag (see above) or the New Zealand marine flag (see below).

So far, it is looking good for New Zealand in terms of paperwork - one page application. Not so good in terms of money - NZ$720 every five years but we'll wait and see how Ireland and USA pan out as options.

New Zealand Marine Flag
The "red ensign" or "red duster" which became the official flag for merchant vessels
in NZ in 1901. It can also be flown on Maori land or during Maori events. 
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