Legislation, contained in the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance (Cap. 548) together with 11 pieces of subsidiary legislation came into force on January 2nd 2007. Whilst some of this legislation relates to commercial operators, there were also significant changes that affected pleasure vessel operations in Hong Kong.
The principal elements of this legislation cover the following areas:-
(a) A change in the classification system for local vessels.
Previously speedboats, auxiliary powered yachts and launches fell under different classifications. All certified pleasure vessels are now designated as Class IV vessels. Vessels or yachts that do not have the facility to mount an engine such as Dragons and Etchells remain exempt from licensing requirements.
(b) Changes to the certification and licensing system for local vessels.
The old hard-backed licence book was replaced with 2 certificates. A ‘Certificate of Ownership’, which need not be renewed annually, and an “Operating Licence”, that is to be carried on board and which is subject to renewal. Licensed owners must now hold a valid HK ID card. In addition to surrendering the old licence book at renewal, new licence numbers have been issued to those vessels that previously had Yacht Club / HKSF issued sail numbers that were used for the licence number.
Since the legislation came into force, sail numbers and Marine Department (MD) licence numbers are totally separate. Sail numbers are issued by the three principle Yacht Clubs (RHKYC, HHYC and ABC) from a list maintained by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation (HKSF) and are to be displayed on the sails. The MD licence number must be displayed on the port and starboard sides of the hull or superstructure.
(c) Compulsory third party risks insurance.
The minimum 3rd party insurance requirement is HK$ 1,000,000. In the case of vessels that are occasionally used for hire or reward the requirement is a minimum of HK$ 3,000,000 3rd party cover.
(d) Fees and charges for licensing.
Licence charges and maximum passenger capacity are now based on square meters (Length x Breadth) rather than using LOA. Survey fees for commercial craft, and port dues and procedures have also been revised
(e) Changes in regulations regarding works safety.
Principally relates to commercial operations such as river trade and ocean going commercial shipping.
(f) Survey and Certification System
Codes of practice for survey and safety regulations are now unified in line with the new vessel classification system. See here for detailed information.
(g) Examination and Certification System for Local Vessel Operators
There is now no upper overall length limit for a Grade 1 pleasure vessel operator’s licence and the length limit for a Grade 2 licence increased from 45 feet (13.7 M) to 15 M LOA. There is also now no limit on the engine size / horsepower for either grade of operator’s certificate. The new operator’s licence is now unified into a single ticket - rather than the old Engineers and Masters Grades 1 or 2 there is now just a PV Certificate Grade 1 or PV Certificate Grade 2. A new examination syllabus for Grade 1 & Grade 2 certificates was also devised. More details can be found on certificates of competency here .
The above summary is, at best, a cursory glance of the legislation. Full details can be found at the Marine Department’s home page via a series of links.
For a “snap shot” view of the current legislation you can also check here
Should you have any questions regarding local licensing requirements, and cannot find the information you are looking for on the Hong Kong Marine Department’s website, please do contact the Marine office of the Club via email@example.com