Introduction of new electronic vessel certificates replaces traditional paper certificates, as part of a digital upgrade of the Danish Ship Register (DAS) and the Danish International Register of Shipping (DIS).

On 18 October 2021, the Danish Ship Register (DAS) and the Danish International Register of Shipping (DIS) (“Danish Ship Registries”) were upgraded and launched on a more modern digital platform accessible at: Skibsbladet (dma.dk).

The new digital format provides for a more user-friendly overview of the information, rights and obligations registered for and against vessels in the Danish Ship Registries, than its predecessor.

However, the introduction of the new purely digital register, is also a bittersweet goodbye to the usual formats of physical certificates available from the Danish Ship Registries, which is of particular interest for parties involved in international vessel transactions.

New electronic certificates of registration and deletion

All vessels registered with the Danish Ship Registries are allocated a separate registration record online (in Danish: Skibsblad) containing information in relation to ownership, technical details, mortgages and other rights.

The Danish Ship Registries have since 2016 issued a number of vessel certificates in electronic format only, including the certificate of nationality and the continuous synopsis records.

With the new change to all digital format, it will no longer be possible to have issued paper/physical certificates of registration or certificates of deletion signed by a representative of the Danish Ship Registries with “wet ink”, and these certificates are now only available in electronic formats.

Instead of a signature, the certificates now contain an online verification system, whereby it is possible to verify the validity of the electronic certificate on the Danish Ship Registries’ website (Verification Service (dma.dk)). Further, the certificates contain a QR-code for verification purposes.

Electronic certificates clearly present a number of advantages and efficiencies including, speed, costs, fast correction of errors, reduction of risk of fraud. That said, the certificates are often used as part of the documentary package in relation to international vessels transactions where originals are often required to be presented (in some jurisdictions maybe even in a notarised/legalised format), and parties contracting are advised to align the contractual documentation with this new practice.

Considerations in relation to sale and purchase transactions

Accordingly, the introduction of the electronic certificate of registration and certificate of deletion gives rise to the following considerations which may be of significant importance in a sale and purchase transaction involving Danish flagged vessels:

  • if on the sellers’ side, initial communication to the buyers that certificates are only issued electronically when negotiating the delivery documents under the memorandum of agreement; and
  • if on the buyers’ side, make sure that an electronic deletion certificate is sufficient for the registration of a vessel with the flag state and whether legalization is required.

New legalisation procedure

In connection with the deletion of a vessel from the Danish Ship Registries and permanent registration of that vessel in a new register, some flag states require the certificate of deletion from previous Danish registry to be legalized by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at the moment not able to legalize electronic certificates issued by the Danish Ship Registries. If legalization of a certificate is necessary, one can apply to the relevant registry have them issue a confirmation of the electronic certificate, which is signed in wet ink by a representative of the register. Hereafter, the signature on the confirmation can be legalized by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Danish Ship Registries are working on a more permanent solution whereby it is possible to have a certificate legalized directly by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs without this intermediary step.

Costs

The electronic certificates can be requested by email to the Danish Ship Registries. The fee has been lowered from DKK 175 to DKK 150 per certificate, which is to be paid in advance by a bank transfer to the Danish Ship Registries, referencing the name and call sign of the relevant vessel.

Registration of mortgages and negative pledges

Mortgages, negative pledges and other rights now appear in their actual priority position in the new digital ship register and not in the chronologic order of registration, as per the previous layout of the registration format. A new requirement is that application for registration of rights (including negative pledges) must state the priority of the said right, in order to be eligible for registration. For registrations made before 18 October 2021, the negative pledge will automatically be stated as side-ranked with the mortgage, if only one mortgage is registered.

Historical rights and deleted mortgages will longer appear under the mortgage and negative pledge sections, but can be found in a new section for previous reported and registered documents, which contain the registration history.