There are two ship registries in Malaysia: a National Ship Registry and an International Ship Registry. Separate registries are available for boats and yachts.
Malaysian Ship Registry
A ship under this Registry must be wholly owned by Malaysians or Malaysian corporations. If a corporation, the principal office and management of the corporation must be in Malaysia and the majority of the shareholders and directors must be held by Malaysians free from any trust or obligation. The main ports of registry are Port Klang, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. While there is no age restriction for ships under this Registry, ships more than 20 years will be subject to special surveys to verify their seaworthiness and condition. A mortgage on a ship may be recorded in the register as soon as the ship is registered upon presentation of the instrument of mortgage to the ship registry.
Malaysian International Ship Registry
The International Registry caters for foreign owners and interests. A ship under this Registry can be owned, managed and operated by foreign interests provided the ship owning corporation is incorporated in Malaysia and a Malaysian ship manager is appointed to manage the ship. A ship must not be less than 1600 gross tonnage and its age not more than 15 years if a tanker or bulk carrier; and not more 20 years for other types of ship. The International Registry is only based in Labuan and ship mortgages can similarly be recorded in the register.
Registry for Yachts and Boats
Boat Licenses may be granted to boats or cargo/passenger vessels of not more than 500 gross tons to ply any port, river or inland waters. Only Malaysian individuals and corporations are eligible for such licenses. An international registry for yachts and recreational boats exists on the island of Langkawi - Langkawi International Ship Registry - which is available for all.
The information herein is for general guidance only, may have been superseded, circumstances may have changed and should not be relied upon for action. This does not in any way represent or replace professional legal advice which in each and every case must be obtained.