Foreign shipowners

​The Danish registers are not open registers and there is a requirement of a genuine connection to Denmark through economic activity in Denmark relating to the ships.

To learn more about the requirements for being registered as a foreign owner of a fishing vessel or pleasure craft over 20 GT, contact the Register of Shipping by e-mail to

To register a merchant ship with a foreign owner in a Danish ship register (the Register of Shipping (DAS) or the Danish International Register of Shipping (DIS), there is a requirement of economic activity in Denmark relating to the ship. This is called the activity requirement.

Furthermore, the owner of the ship is required to appoint an entity (a Danish natural or legal person) as process agent on behalf of the foreign owner. The Danish entity must agree to such appointment.

In respect of foreign jointly owned shipping companies, the managing owner appointed must be either a citizen or a legal person from Denmark or from an EU/EEA country. Managing owners from countries outside the EU/EEA cannot be appointed.

Both requirements must be complied with for as long as the ship is registered in a Danish ship register. In the case of changes to the basis accepted at the registration, the new basis must be notified to the Register of Shipping as soon as possible and not later than 30 days after the change was made/took effect.

The Register of Shipping will then assess whether the conditions for continued registration under the Danish flag are satisfied. We conduct random checks of whether ships registered with a non-Danish owner continuously satisfy the conditions for registration.

The Register of Shipping always considers the complete situation of the specific ship. We therefore always recommend a close, broad and flexible dialogue with us before, during and after the flagging-in.

It is a condition that economic activity in Denmark is conducted in relation to the ship in at least one of the following ways:

  1. The technical or commercial operation of the ship is managed from Denmark
  2. The entity managing the operation of the ship satisfies the requirements set out in the Danish Tonnage Taxation Act
  3. The company, organisation or person that holds or has applied for a Document of Compliance as prescribed by the ISM Code for the Safe Operation of Ships is established in Denmark
  4. Following a specific assessment, the Registrar of Shipping may find that a plurality of activities and initiatives overall constitutes such economic activity in Denmark that the conditions for registration can be considered to have been satisfied.
The foreign owner of the ship must declare and document that one of the first three conditions mentioned above has been satisfied in full. Alternatively, you may provide documentation that a plurality of parts of the four above-mentioned activities are managed from Denmark. We will then assess whether the activity requirement can be considered to have been complied with.
If a foreign-owned ship is registered in a Danish ship register while being chartered by a charterer based in Denmark, for example under a bareboat charter party agreement, the activity requirement of economic activity in Denmark will normally be complied with. However, we will consider each individual case to assess whether the activities under the charter party agreement comply with the activity requirement.

A very common form of documentation/approach is for a foreign owner to enter into an agency or management agreement with a Danish shipping company or management company. The owner and the company concerned then agree on the specific activities to be carried out by the Danish agency on the owner’s behalf. Agency agreements are often concluded even though there is no requirement of secondary establishment for foreign owners wishing to register a merchant ship in a Danish register.

In assessing whether one or a plurality of activities satisfies the activity requirement, we take the following into account:

  • That the activity as a whole is performed in Denmark as regards items 1 and 3
  • If not all of the activity is carried out in Denmark, then how large a part of it is managed from Denmark – for example how many people in Denmark are employed for/involved in performing the activity, and how much the owner is paying a Danish entity for performing the activity. In case of partial performance of an activity in Denmark, a requirement for more activities to be managed from Denmark should be expected.
  • Compliance with item 2 above can be documented by a tonnage tax receipt. If you have not yet paid tonnage tax, but expect to do so, provisional documentation may be in the form of an opinion from a state-authorised public accountant stating that the foreign owner may be liable to pay tonnage tax. When tonnage tax is subsequently paid, documentation to that effect must be submitted to the Register of Shipping.

In situations where a foreign-owned ship to be admitted to a Danish register is bound by existing agreements (for example bareboat or time charter with a non-Danish entity), the Register of Shipping will assess whether the scope of economic activities (performance of the agreements) in Denmark relating to the ship is sufficient to comply with the requirements prescribed by law.

To register foreign owners, you should use the following forms:

It appears from the individual forms which documents to enclose with the application. Please note that you always have to provide documentation of how the activity requirement is complied with. The documentation is typically an explanatory letter or a declaration signed by the owner of the ship and the Danish connection as well as a copy of the bareboat charter party agreement, management agreement or the like concerning the ship.

See also under ‘Initial registration’ for registration of a ship or, according to the circumstances, ‘Transfer of ownership’ for additional documentation requirements.

Changes to the registered data, for example data on the owner(s) of the ship and on the party complying with the activity requirement, must be notified to the Register of Shipping by the owner(s) or the party complying with the activity requirement not later than 30 days after the changes take effect. The Register of Shipping will assess whether the conditions for registration are still satisfied after the changes. Depending on the nature of the change, you can notify us using one of the application forms mentioned or by e-mail. You can always contact the Register of Shipping and ask how to notify a given change.