Recent changes to Dutch law safeguarding the right of free establishment in Europe mean
that ship registration regulations in the Netherlands have
been relaxed. The recent change brings Dutch law in line with a 2004 European Court of Justice decision which ruled that Dutch national law, although apparently in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which requires a “genuine link between the State and the ship,” contravened European law by being too restrictive. In the past companies could only register their vessels in the Netherlands if: At least two-thirds of the ship was owned by a European Community (EC) or European Economic Area (EEA) national company, and the business of the vessel was conducted by EC or EEA nationals through a Netherlands-based office. These requirements have been removed. However it is still the case that the company that registers the vessel must itself be registered in Europe. In addition there must also be a Netherlands-based representative who has full authority to act for the ship.