Press Release

Premier's Office
Virgin Islands Shipping Registry
Release Date:
Tuesday, 25 July 2023 - 11:47am

The Virgin Islands Shipping and Maritime Authority Act, 2023 had its first reading in the House of Assembly on June 29.

The Bill makes provisions for the Government of the Virgin Islands to establish the Shipping and Maritime Authority in efforts to enhance the operations and the viability of the Virgin Islands’ ships register, and its related products and services.

The Authority will be tasked with directing, managing and controlling the Territory’s maritime affairs to ensure optimal performance, underpinned by robust decision-making policies towards maintaining a quality flag.

According to the Bill, the establishment of an autonomous Board is in alignment with global flags international standards and in accordance with the Red Ensign Group of flags, in which Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Isle of Mann operate as statutory boards.

Director of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Mr. John Samuel stated, “The Virgin Islands Shipping and Maritime Authority’s overall function will involve utilising strategies to analyse the market, and using the information to respond appropriately.”

Mr. Samuel said, “The Shipping Registry’s success depends on its ability not only to gain entry into the key global shipping and global markets, but also to achieve a sustained competitive presence, through employing the relevant strategies.”

The Bill indicates that the transition will promote the self-generating revenue levels that will enhance the Territory’s company registration for the ownership and operation of shipping companies, and will increase the overall marketability of the Virgin Islands as a maritime tourism destination.

Ultimately, the establishment of the Authority will further the Government of the Virgin Islands’ objectives of economic diversification and expanding the revenue-generating capacities of the Territory.

According to the Bill, “The appointment and installation of a Board will decentralise the responsibilities of management and leadership. Hence, legally the ultimate responsibility for international maritime compliance, regulation of the BVI maritime waters, and the efficient and effective operation of the commercial registry product will rest with the governing Board.

              The Board will function like an autonomous corporate entity that will be required to report to the Premier through the Chairperson of the Board. In addition, the Board will be required to submit an annual report to the Premier, and prepare and submit its annual budget to the Premier for approval.

The Board’s autonomous status will separate VISR from the Central Government administration. Operating under a Management Board will provide several advantages, which include:

  1. the Authority’s ability  to manage its finances more effectively;
  2. the Authority’s  release from some of the bureaucratic hurdles it now experiences in such areas as hiring mandatory and critical technical staff, employee continuing education and programme development;
  3. the Authority’s ability to keep pace with its Red Ensign peers and to support the BVI as a maritime state in maintaining mandatory international maritime standards;
  4. having a mix of people from the public and private sector bringing new perspectives to the policy management and operations of the Authority;
  5. the Authority’s ability to  be proactive and respond more quickly to changes in the local, regional and international maritime arenas; and
  6. allowing more flexibility in its operations as a commercial business entity, thereby enabling its ability to negotiate with potential clients when required  to attract increased business and overall volume to the flag.

Currently, the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry is a Government department operating under the Premier’s Office.

          Persons are being encouraged to read the draft Bill and submit feedback by August 4 to, ahead of the second reading at the next sitting of the House of Assembly.

The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to facilitating effective revenue management, and economic diversification, through employing robust economic policies and decision-making processes.



PDF icon maritime_authority_brief_for_review.pdf146.95 KB


Sonjé Greenidge

Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
Telephone: 468-2742