By Chévanev A.Y Charles
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the government
Photo Credit: Nneka Daniel
So! You have a small boat or a yacht and want to put it on the water in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) so you can earn some United States Dollars from the tourists as a taxi and/or tour guide in the upcoming tourist season!
Before you get into “hiccups” for operating illegally, read this article and learn how to register your boat so you can operate your small business of being a tour guide without any serious issues with the authorities.
Registration of your boat or yacht is handled by the SVG Maritime Administration located at the Cruise Ship Terminal building in the Capital city: Kingstown.
According to the Shipping Act (CAP 363) of the Laws of SVG section 3 & 4, you must be registered with insurance in order to operate exclusively in SVG waters.
In order to register your boat you will, of course, needs to bring some documentation. The following list will be helpful:
1) Letter of Application to the Registrar of Ships – this is a cover letter explaining you are applying to register your ship;
2) An original application for registration
3) Proof that the boat is yours through a Bill of Sale or a Builder’s Certificate (notarized by a Justice of the Peace or a notary public)
4) Declaration of Ownership (notarized by a Justice of the Peace or a notary public)
5) Deletion Certificate (if you bought the boat from another flag other than SVG)
6) Copy of Insurance Certificate
8) Survey/ inspection Report
Dependent on your boat or yacht size you may have to submit more documents or may not require a particular document at all. It is always best to call the Maritime Administration to clarify what you need to bring.
Provided you submit all accurate documentation and pay the fees, registration is quite speedy taking approximately 3-4 working days.
In order to get a sticker for your boat that says “Approved Water Taxi,” you must also register with the Tourism Authority. Reachable at: http://www.tourism.gov.vc/tourism/
The Captain or skipper of your boat will require a boat master’s licence issued by the Maritime Administration. You may find it useful to join the Water Taxi Association which has three sections on the mainland as well as the Northern and Southern Grenadines.
Water taxi operators take their jobs seriously. They look professional; well-groomed and are clearly identifiable as water taxi operators, they don’t swear at tourists or hassle them. They understand that service is key and that they are selling an experience which must be excellent to have repeat customers. Keep this standard high and your boat will do well!
To be honest, if you are a Vincentian, you do not need an agent to help you register however the agents on the island are very experienced in registration. Nevertheless, the staff at the SVG Maritime Administration are very friendly and will sit with you to explain the process. You may find that you can actually handle ship registration yourself but bear in mind agents are around to ease the process.
Water taxis are an important and even vital part of the tourism sector in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Never let anyone tell you or encourage the thought that this island isn’t beautiful, I have been to several countries now and SVG is definitely one of the best. Showcase what we have and take care of the environment while you do so.
You should always bear in mind the title of the song performed by artistes Skinny Fabulous and Steel Pan Maestro Rodney Small above everything you do in tourism: “This Island is Mine.”
Chévanev A.Y Charles is a UK- trained practising lawyer Called to the Bar in the United Kingdom, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia (pending). He holds a Masters’ degree in International Maritime Law from the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI Malta). He is a consultant, legislative drafter, a mediator and a lecturer. He may be contacted at email@example.com