Dutch shipping

Dutch shipping register


All ships are obliged to sail under a national flag. In order to perform this task properly, a country must use a shipping register. This is an administrative tool that keeps everything up-to-date and accurate, enabling governments to provide shipping companies with proper service. Some countries choose to outsource the management of a shipping register to a commercial party. In the Netherlands, the government has taken the responsibility itself.

Because shipping companies decide under which flag their vessels will be registered, their decision is based on the business climate of the country in question. Consequently, the most prosperous seafaring countries offer the best services via their shipping registers.

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Dutch shipping register

In order to motivate shipowners to register their vessels in the Netherlands, it is therefore very important that there is a well-functioning ship register. The Dutch government is aware of this and takes steps to create an attractive business climate for shipping companies.

Maritime strategy

In 2014, the Dutch government published the national Maritime Strategy, followed by the maritime shipping work programme in 2015. The aim of these documents is to facilitate the implementation of the government’s maritime policy, up to and including 2017. The main focus of attention is to improve competitiveness, by, for example, creating a level playing field and an attractive shipping register.

An attractive shipping register

A comparative study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has shown that the Dutch shipping register is actually less competitive than registers from other countries. The KVNR is therefore working together with the Dutch government to improve the situation. Important elements of this include:

  • efficient registration and certification procedures,
  • improved accessibility,
  • faster interpretation of, and improved information about, new regulations,
  • improved promotion of the shipping register.


Performance of the Dutch flag

There are various indicators for measuring the performance of national flags; this largely includes accidents, administrative burden and port detentions. Inspections of ships and crews are carried out by port state inspectors; this generally occurs on an ad hoc basis, with records being kept by the inspection authority concerned. In the Netherlands, these inspections are the responsibility of the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate.

Worldwide inspection data are used to generate performance rankings of the national flags. The best known of these is the Paris MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), which ranks countries on data from the previous three years. The more detentions a flag has, the lower that flag will be in the rankings table. The Netherlands currently holds fourth place in the Paris MoU white list – an excellent position!

The Paris MoU is just one example; there are many other MoUs around the world. These also comprise the inspection results from their own Port State Controls, using the following numbers:

  • Number of inspected vessels
  • Number of shortcomings
  • Number of detentions

White, grey, and black lists

Based on inspection result data, flag states and classification societies are classified into white, grey or black lists. The white list contains the best performers, and the black list contains the poorest performers.

In 2017, the Dutch flag received the following number of detentions:


Memorandum of understanding

Number of detentions 2017

Paris MoU


Tokyo MoU


Viña del Mar


Carribean MoU


Med MoU


Indian Ocean MoU


Abuja MoU


Black Sea MoU


Riyadh MoU






Paris MoU ranking

Considering the Paris MoU rankings of flag states, the KVNR strives that the Dutch flag holds a top-ten position in the white list. After a number of years of lower scores, this was achieved in 2017 – meaning that the Dutch flag is once again one of the best quality registers.

With detention figures of just 1.4 per cent, the Dutch flag performed better than average in the Paris MoU in 2017 (average detention figures = 3.84 per cent).

The table below shows the Paris MoU data for the Dutch flag over the last three years.

Paris MoU – Dutch flag




Number of inspections




Number of deficiences




 - ISM deficiencies




Number of detentions




detention ratio




White List position of The Netherlands




The position in the rankings table is calculated by comparing a country’s average inspection data from the last three years with the averages of the other flag states. Due to its excellent performance since 2015, the Dutch flag took 3rd place in 2017 – an impressive result!