Small Craft FAQ


Below are a range of questions that have been addressed by the Antigua Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) Technical Department, since the Small Craft Control Act 2015, No. 14 of 2015 came into force on 1 January 2016.

Some questions refer also to the Shipping (Small Commercial Vessel) Regulations 2008.

The information provided in FAQs is accurate at the time it was posted on this website.

Q. What is the difference between licensing and registering? Do I have to do both?
A. Licensing is about the operational and technical safety of your craft. Registering is about your right to fly the Antigua and Barbuda Flag, in order to identify your vessel outside of Antigua and Barbuda local waters. For further information see: Licensing and Registration

Q. I have a FV License from Fisheries Division (for sport fishing) and do I still have to comply with the small craft regulations?
A. Yes, the FV License for sport or recreational fishing (where there are catch limitations) only applies to the act of fishing. It is there to manage fishing and ensure seasonal restrictions are complied with. Vessel will require Small Craft Safety Certificate and License from ADOMS.

Q. I have a commercial FV Licence from Fisheries Division (no catch restrictions) with vessel solely engaged in commercial fishing and do I still need to comply with small pleasure craft regulations?
A. No, vessel is exempted from the Small Craft Control Act 2015.

Q. I have a commercial FV Licence and does this allow me to carry cargo and/or passengers?
A. No, vessel would require Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Safety Certificate and Licence from ADOMS.

Q.  I have a foreign registered vessel and can I apply for a Small Craft Licence from ADOMS?
A.  No, the Small Craft Safety Certificate and Licence only applies to local vessels, and/or Antigua & Barbuda registered vessels. However, foreign registered vessels sailing in Antigua and Barbuda waters declare their adherence to an equivalent standard.

Q.  I have a foreign registered vessel operating in Antigua & Barbuda waters, under a Cruising Permit and do I still have to comply with the small craft regulations?
A.  Yes, but this will be part of the conditions of the short term Cruising Permit. The Cruising Permits (issued by Port Authority or National Parks) are valid for certain time-period, up to a maximum of six consecutive months.

Q.  I have a tender belonging to a foreign registered vessel, that’s operating in Antigua & Barbuda waters, do I also have to comply with the small craft regulations?
A.  Yes, also small craft adherent to larger ones have to comply. However, if the mothership is classed respectively licensed accordingly (under the foreign regime), then the tender, as part of the motherships equipment, will likely be of the respective conformity. It is essential to carry the respective documentation aboard. But remember, that also tenders of foreign registered vessels are subject to the same cruising permit limitations as the mother vessel, and their operation in A&B waters is considered as valid self-declaration of equivalency.

Q.  My foreign registered vessel has been in Antigua & Barbuda waters for several years, do I still have to comply with the new small craft regulations?
A.  Yes, if Cruising Permit has expired, then to remain in Antigua & Barbuda waters vessel should change to Antigua & Barbuda registry, or cancel overseas registration and apply for licensing as a local (registered or non-registered) vessel.

Q.  As a visiting foreign registered vessel, how do I know the small craft safety standards that apply?
A.   When the Cruising Permit is issued, it will have an attached Advisory Note on the small craft safety standards, that reminds you of your implicit self declaration of equivalence, when sailing in Antigua and Barbuda Waters.

Q.  As a visiting foreign registered vessel, that is SCV certified, is this accepted when requesting a Cruising Permit?
A.  Yes, the Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Certificate is accepted. ADOMS may carry out random inspections.

Q.  I have my own personal kayak and sail board and do I need to comply with small craft regulations and be certified?
A.  Yes, but non-powered craft that are under 5 metres in length are exempted from Safety Certificate and Licence under the Small Craft Control Act 2015. ADOMS therefore recommends that owners of these pleasure craft register their details with the voluntary safety identification scheme.

Q.  How will the new small pleasure craft regulations be enforced?
A.  The Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force and Coast Guard (ABDF CG) will carry out spot checks. Also other authorities, including ADOMS itself, may inspect any craft operating in local waters, on any occasion.

Q.  Do jet skis have to comply with the new small craft regulations?
A.  Yes, operators should apply to ADOMS for Safety Certificate and Licence. If Jet Ski is operated commercially (hired out) then copy of Vendor’s Licence (from Ministry of Tourism) required, also evidence of owner/operator having completed PWC proficiency training course.

Q.  I own two private jet skis that I operate with my son, who is 14 years of age. I understand that to ride a jet ski solo, 16 is the minimum age, is that correct?
A.  Yes, but ADOMS may consider equivalencies under a risk assessment. For example, if you are always in attendance with your son and he has completed a certified PWC proficiency course, then this would be an operational condition on the issued Safety Certificate and Licence.

Q. How do I  safely dispose of out of date distress flares?

A. Out of date distress flares can be delivered to the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Coast Guard base in St. John’s and thye will take them from you

Q.  I operate a small commercial vessel within protected waters, do I require buoyant apparatus cover for all persons onboard?
A.  Yes, the only exception to this would be for catamaran type vessels that have damage subdivision and independent machinery spaces, when a formal exemption would was issued.

Q.  My small pleasure craft has been inspected under the new regulations. I understand the limits on the Safety Certificate and Licence are for protected waters only, but I sometimes go to Barbuda and is this acceptable with my present lifesaving equipment?

A.  No, the small craft safety equipment standard is for operations near shore, or protected waters only. Barbuda is coastal waters and inflatable liferaft, buoyant apparatus, or inflatable boat (with capacity for total number of persons aboard) are  required for this extended area. The only exception to this would be if a group of small craft were going to Barbuda together and this would be an operating condition on their Safety Certificates.

Q.  I have operated small pleasure vessels in Antigua for many years, but have no formal certification. How do I satisfy the evidence of competence required under the Small Craft Control Act 2015?
A.  It has been agreed (under grandfather clause) that for existing operators (prior to 1 January 2016) then a verified statement of operational experience may be accepted and this will be noted on the office technical file. New operators, after 1 January 2016, will be required to have completed an appropriate certified training course.

Q. How do I mark up my craft to show it is certified and licensed?
A. If you also have a FV licence for sport or recreational fishing then the FV number can be accepted as identification marking, otherwise the ADOMS licence number must be displayed. This is recommended practice in any case. If a craft is registered then the call sign should be displayed as well. The licence decal (Sticker/Tag) should be affixed next to the call sign or licence number.

Q. How  long do I have to correct any deficiencies on the ADOMS Report of Inspection form ?
A. Deficiencies should be corrected as soon as possible, or as directed on the Report of Inspection form. However if more than six months has elapsed since the inspection date, then the Report of Inspection becomes invalid. In this case a new application with fee ans subsequent new inspection will be required.

Q. What is the procedure for reporting accidents ?
A. If a vessel is directly or indirectly involved in an accident, which results in personal injury or damage to property, the person operating the vessel should report the accident immediately to ABDF Coast Guard and ADOMS. Note: Please see link to the incident report form which is to be completed and forwarded to ADOMS Incident report form 

Q. What is a Call Sign in respect of a small vessel

A.  A vessel that is registered is given a unique Call Sign which must be marked on the vessel. This is the international radio call sign and for Antigua and Barbuda it is prefixed V2

Q.  I am on the UK Small Ships Register (SSR) and based in Antigua, do I still require a cruising permit?

A. Yes, as a foreign registered vessel in Antigua and Barbuda a valid cruising permit is required for operating and this permit may be issued up to a maximum period of six months. When vessel is out of the water the cruising permit process does not apply

Q.  Are there any approved doctors in Antigua and Barbuda who can conduct the UK ENG 1 Seafarer Medical Exam? 

A. Yes. All crew working on UK ships and mega yachts can have there exam done in Antigua and Barbuda. ENG 1 Seafarer medical exam information notice.

Doctors certified by MCA will be listed separately on our website shortly. For details please contact us at

Q. What are the different areas of operation that apply in Antigua and Barbuda?

A. There are 4 operating areas designated for Antigua and Barbuda

  • Near shore is designated as not more than 200 metres from a safe haven
  • Protected waters is designated as not more than 1 mile offshore and not more than 3 miles from a safe haven and includes Barbuda lagoon
  • Coastal waters is designated as not more than 20 miles from a safe haven and does not include any international voyage
  • Exposed waters is designated as more than 20 miles from a safe haven

Q. Is there any duty free concession on small craft safety equipment ?

A. Yes. There is a waiver on Customs Duties, Revenue Recovery Charges and Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST), on the purchase of safety equipment for small craft . See link to Press release – Duty free concession  This only applies to safety equipment for use onboard small craft that are licenced by ADOMS, under the Small Craft Control Act and Regulations.