Yury V. Mel’nik. Definition of the concept “Flag of convenience” and its difference from “open registry”

UDK: 347

Yury V. Mel’nik - Russian University of Transport (MIIT)

Abstract. According to the generally accepted definition, “Flag of convenience” is a business practice whereby a ship’s owner is of a nationality other than the nationality of the ship. But the problem is that the lists of registries, which are called “flags of convenience”, are very different. The current paper has aimed to develop a definition of “flag of convenience” through the analysis of the history of ship registration, as well as comparative legal analysis. To study this there has been reviewed legislation of six countries, as well as research papers from eight countries. As a result, there have been identified three main approaches to determining which flags are considered convenient. Thus, a registry may be called a “flag of convenience” if the flag state does not fulfill its responsibilities. There have been determined the characteristic features by which one can identify a “flag of convenience”. This information can be crucial in making recommendations to Russian shipowners and insurance companies when assessing the risks and benefits of a particular registry, since 61% of ships owned by domestic shipowners are registered in other countries.

Keywords: maritime transport; vessel registration; flag of convenience; open registry; foreign legislation; international law.


  1. Fossen, A. Flags of Convenience and Global Capitalism / A. Fossen // International Critical Thought. —2016. — Vol. 6(3). — P. 359―377.
  2. Bekyashev, D. K. Ponyatiye «udobnogo» flaga v mezhdunarodnom morskom prave [The concept of a “flag of convenience” in international maritime law] / D. K. Bekyashev // Morskoye pravo i strakhovaniye. —2021. № 2. ― S. 6―16.

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