Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Shipping Business in the United Kingdom

Starting a shipping business in the United Kingdom can be a great investment. A fairly ambitious project, shipping can develop into a lucrative business in the right hands. However, the right person may require some guidance when starting up their own company and increasing shipping revenues on an ongoing basis. This article will equip you with all of the data necessary to set up a shipping business in the United Kingdom – whether that’s for yourself or someone else. We will also provide you with a guide to company registration in United Kingdom.


Shipping Business Trends in the United Kingdom

Shipping is an essential industry in the United Kingdom and a viable business idea. However, the key to prosperity lies in knowing how the shipping process works. To understand your role in the industry, you need to look at business models, regulations, opportunities, and people involved. In addition, you will need a high degree of analytical skills and report skills, and valuable customer knowledge and relationships.

Freight shipping is a booming business in the United Kingdom. It’s great for keeping inventory in stock and managing inventory costs. In addition, freight shipping is essential for retailers that sell to large commercial clients such as wholesalers or retailers. Still, it is also an important business service for many household names that regularly supply many retailers with stock in smaller quantities for local sale. For instance, many large supermarkets stock goods such as fresh meat, fish, and dairy products regularly, which they then offer to their customers as saleable goods.

With most companies focusing on increasing their market share by improving their freight rates and lowering costs for customers, we can see that shipping is indeed a lucrative business. It is also essential to keep up-to-date with significant economic and political events; major shipping restrictions could last for several months. You will need to look at past experience, current market trends, potential competitors and evaluate every element of your operation. This includes both operational and structural elements to determine an overall strategy to guide all your activities.


Freights and Such

Getting your head around the logistics of starting a shipping business can be time-consuming, particularly if you are taking on a significant business venture. You will need to make sure everything is in order, including setting up your own premises, hiring staff, obtaining necessary licenses, and registering your goods with customs. In addition, you will need to ensure compliance with all local licensing requirements for your industry. Negligence in doing so would result in penalties, fines, or even prison sentences.

While it is possible to create your own business from home, doing so requires owning resources such as a warehouse and transportation. The second thing you need to come into this business with is customer loyalty. For example, starting a shipping business requires constant customer contact to successfully meet each client’s needs. It may be difficult for customers to do this while you do not have a permanent office or are dependent on internet connections. Once you have identified these two things, it becomes much easier to decide what services you offer.

In the shipping business, your responsibilities grow as the industry matures. As your company grows, you need more than just an actual fleet of trucks and drivers – you need a sophisticated logistical network. You will need to use technology to monitor your fleet levels, route goods efficiently, and ensure they reach their destinations on time. In addition to drivers, you will also need people to manage storage space and manage inventory.

So let’s say you have decided to start a business that will handle product shipping in the United Kingdom. Great! You are already on your route to becoming a successful business person or entrepreneur when all required is proper setup, initial research, and intelligent marketing. Nevertheless, you need to consider many things before starting. To know more about shipping businesses, you may visit a company incorporation services platform.


Registration Process for Starting a Shipping Business in the United Kingdom

Ship registration is the responsibility of the shipping agent. The shipping agent should register all ships that come to the United Kingdom under their flag; however, there are strict rules about what they must list on their invoices. You need to meet several requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) before your ship can begin its journey. The requirements depend on the country of registry, inspection requirements, depth and width of drafts, mooring facilities, cargo space, and crew size. If you are confused, you can contact a corporate service provider.



These are the qualifications for registering a ship:

  • United Kingdom citizen
  • British dependant territories citizen
  • British overseas citizen
  • A company incorporated in one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries
  • Citizen of an EU member state exercising your rights under articles 48 or 52 of the EU Treaty in the United Kingdom
  • An incorporated company in any British overseas possession that has its principal place of business in the United Kingdom or those possessions
  • Non-United Kingdom nationals who are settled in the United Kingdom
  • Company in a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG)
  • Corporate bodies incorporated in a country listed in Schedule 6
  • Citizens listed in Schedule 6
  • Commonwealth citizens
  • Bodies corporate incorporated in a Commonwealth state

If none of the qualified owners are resident in the United Kingdom, there must be a representative who is one of the following:

  • A company incorporated in one of the European Economic Area countries with a place of business in the United Kingdom
  • An individual resident in the United Kingdom

After testing the eligibility, you will need to complete a ship registration pro forma (MSF 5547), which will provide the necessary information to check if both the ship and the owner are eligible for United Kingdom registration.


Required Documents for Part I Registration

You need the following documents for Part 1 registration:

  • Application to Register
  • Declaration of Eligibility
  • Bill of Sale (for existing ships)
  • Copy of Certificate of Incorporation (if a corporate body is an owner)
  • Certificate of Survey for Tonnage & Measurement
  • International Tonnage Certificate
  • Builders Certificate (for new builds)
  • Copy of the ship’s Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR)
  • Deletion certificate or a written undertaking to provide one within six weeks or a transcript from the current register
  • Mortgage registration forms (if appropriate)


Required Documents for Part IV Registration

These are the documents for Part 4 registration:

  • Application to register a bareboat charter ship
  • Declaration of Eligibility for a bareboat charter ship
  • Copy of the charter party agreement
  • Copy of Certificate of Incorporation
  • Primary registration certificate
  • International Tonnage Certificate
  • Certificate of Survey for Tonnage & Measurement
  • Copy of the ship’s current Continuous Synopsis Record

Once the documentation is received, a carving and marking note will be issued to the attending surveyor. Once signed and returned, the Certificate of Registry can be issued.


Licences and Permits

In addition to the registration process, you need to consider these components:

Safe Manning

Every ship over 500 GT requires a letter of Safe Manning to become a member of the United Kingdom Ship Register. The utility must be made on the time of making use of for registration.

Certificates of Equivalent Competency

Following the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping, a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) issued by the MCA will be required unless the officers on board the United Kingdom registered vessel to have a United Kingdom Certificate of Competency.

Medical Certificates

You need to comply with the conditions of the Merchant Shipping Medical Examination Regulations.

Maritime Security

You will need to arrange verification and approval of the Ship Security Plan to meet the SOLAS Amendments 2002 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

Radio Communications

You will need to complete and generate all radio licenses on behalf of a company.

ISM Code

The Safety Management Certificate audits are conducted by the United Kingdom Ship Register. Your ISM application should be made using form MSF 5100 – Application for Survey and Inspection of Ships and Fishing Vessels.

Crew Accommodation

A United Kingdom registered ship needs to comply with the Statutory Instrument 1997/1508, United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Regulations 1997, which implements ILO 92 and ILO 133 on crew accommodation.


Each ship must be surveyed before registering on the United Kingdom Ship Register. These surveys can be administered by either MCA or MCA-approved class surveyors, depending on specific criteria.


Stability approval has been assigned to selected Classification Societies and Certifying Authorities for different ship types.

Civil Liability Certification (CLC)

United Kingdom ships and ships coming to or from the United Kingdom, or another state party, must have flag state certificates to prove they have the relevant compulsory liability insurance certificates.

These considerations are just a tiny portion of what you really need to learn and understand. To know more about setting up a shipping business, contact 3E Accounting. We can help you out with this crucial task by providing you with efficient and cost-effective solutions for your storage needs. In addition, you can rest assured knowing that 3E Accounting won’t rest until your business is flourishing and sustainable for the long haul.

Starting a Shipping Business in the United Kingdom