Yachting regulations under the Thai Vessel Act 1/3

Thailand’s maritime legislation and its relevance for pleasure yacht and sport vessel owners. Part 1: Yacht ownership

In Thai waters, yachting laws are governed by the Thai Vessels Act No. 6, introduced already in the year 1938 and last amended in 1997. Vessel means any kind of water vehicles. Thai waters mean all waters within the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Thailand. Trading in Thai waters means transportation of passengers or objects or pulling objects from any port or place to other port(s) or place(s) within the Thai waters, for a commercial purpose.

Other maritime laws include the Collision Prevention Act, the Navigation in Thai Waters Act, the Arrest of Ships Act, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, the Ship Mortgages and Maritime Preferential Rights Act, the General Average Relating to Sea Peril in the Navigation Act and the Civil Liabilities and Damages Relating to the Vessel Collision Act. This legislation is not discussed in this article.

Ownership in a Thai yacht for pleasure, sport, or otherwise

Definition: Motor yachts of ten gross tonnages and upwards and sailing yachts of twenty gross tonnages and upwards fall under Thailand’s vessel legislation and have to be in compliance with the rules and regulations.  The registration of Thai vessels is made before the appointed vessel registrar or a person acting on his or her behalf. 


Yacht name: A  registered  Thai vessel shall not bear other names than that already been registered. The registered name of the vessel may be changed only with the permission of the Director-General of the
Harbour Department. The change of a vessel name shall be made according to the provisions of a Ministerial Regulation. When the permission to change a vessel name has been granted, the change thereof in the registration book, the registration certificate, or other appropriate documents, as well as the advertisement thereof, shall be made according to the provisions of a Ministerial Regulation.

Yacht ownership is restricted to Thai individuals and corporations if the vessel is used for the transportation of passengers or objects or pulling objects from any Port or place to other ports or places within the Thai waters, for commercial purposes. A Thai vessel Co., Ltd. needs to have at least 70% Thai shareholders and at least 50% Thai directors.  For registered Thai vessels engaging in international maritime transport and not trading in Thai waters, deviating rules apply. Thailand’s yacht legislation explicitly prohibits yacht nominee from owning a yacht or shares in a yacht company instead of a foreigner or foreign company.

Fractional yacht ownership is a concept to share the asset between several participants. Fractional ownership should not be confused with co-ownership, although these terms are not always correctly applied. Under a co-ownership structure, each co-owner owns a percentage in each part of the asset at any time. The fractional ownership grants (i) either a particular part in the asset (ii) or ownership for a certain allotment of time, (iii) or else. Fractional ownership can exist under the laws, or based on some sort of management, to administer the rules and regulations under which the fraction has been agreed.

Thai flag: Only Thai yachts are entitled to fly the Thai flag. Any yacht that is not a Thai vessel flying the Thai flag to identify itself as a Thai vessel is violating Thai laws. The flag must be hoisted in particular when sailing pass a Thai or foreign war vessel, entering into or departing from a Thai and foreign port, or anchoring at a Thai port from 8 a.m. to sunset time.

#ThaiYachtLawTrilogy: Part 2 of the Thai Yacht Law Trilogy has the topic “The yacht registration under Thailand’s flag“. Part 3 of the Thai Yacht Law Trilogy has the topic “The transfer of yacht ownership

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