While the war has caused extensive disruption to global shipping and is likely to intensify ongoing supply chain disruptions, port congestion, and crew crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a context where Russian ships are switching their flags amid sanctions in record numbers, an increased interest in local maritime and inland transportation has been noted, including ship registration in Romania, particularly that of barges. Thus, the Romanian registration provisions could be of interest to companies in the transportation field.
All ships, irrespective of the flag they fly, while navigating or stationed in the national navigable waters of Romania and Romanian ports are required to comply with the provisions of national legislation and the international agreements and conventions to which Romania is a party. This rule also applies to ships sailing or stationed in national waters that are not navigable. Any ship that is sailing in the national navigable waters of Romania must fly the flag of the state in which it is registered.
The right to fly the Romanian flag is granted to the following categories of ships: (1) those owned by Romanian legal or natural persons; (2) owned by natural persons nationals of a member state of the EEA or legal persons having the nationality of a member state of the EU or the EEA or legal persons having established in the EU or the EEA; (3) owned by foreign natural persons domiciled or resident in Romania or by foreign legal persons domiciled or resident in Romania or by Romanian subsidiaries of foreign legal persons; (4) owned by legal or natural persons, other than Romanian legal or natural persons, chartered by bareboat or leasing contracts for periods of more than one year, for Romanian or foreign legal persons or companies.
The authority that grants the right to fly the Romanian flag is the Romanian Naval Authority (RNA), through its harbor masters. After granting the right to fly the Romanian flag, the harbor masters shall register the ship in the particular registers according to the request, issue the ship’s nationality certificate, and notify the RNA of the data in the register to be centralized in the register of records. The nationality certificates will be valid for the entire period during which the ship is entitled to fly the Romanian flag or until the change of owner and/or operator of the ship. As a mandatory request, the ships flying the Romanian flag must keep a logbook or other logbooks according to the law, as appropriate.
One of the most important things to consider when beginning the registration procedure is the age of the ship. According to Romanian legislation, a ship older than 20 years cannot be registered as a maritime ship, and it is debatable if it can be registered as a ship navigating inland waters.
What are the necessary documents to submit to RNA for registration? There are two particular situations: Ship ownership and chartered ships in bareboat leasing. To have the right to fly the Romanian flag, the owner shall submit the following documents to the nominated harbor master: (1) the standard application, optionally including three name proposals; (2) the title document; (3) the inspection report for registration issued by the RNA, or the class certificate and statutory certificates issued by the RNA; (4) where applicable, a tonnage certificate; (5) for legal entities, the certificate of establishment issued by the competent authority; (6) for acquired ships, the document certifying the erasure of the ship by the competent authority of the state whose flag the ship was previously flying; (7) proof of the fiscal registration of the ship by the endorsement of the registration form by the Romanian fiscal authorities; (8) two photographs of the ship in waterline condition.
Additionally, if the ship is operated bareboat or by leasing, the ship operator shall submit: (1) the financial leasing contract or bareboat contract; (2) if the ship is burdened by liens and/or securities in rem, the express agreement of the respective creditors to the chartering of the ship and its registration in the bareboat/leasing register in Romania.
As mentioned above, to complete the registration procedures, the RNA must provide an inspection report. The inspection may be conducted by one of the technical inspectors from Romanian harbor masters in the harbor where the ship is currently located, even though the harbor is not located in Romanian territory. The owner shall bear all the costs for an inspector to travel and conduct the ship’s inspection.
By Adoriana Azoitei-Frumosu, Head of Data Protection and Business Ethics, Hategan Attorneys