1. History

Norway has always been a seafaring nation. The need to keep record of vessels and their owners has been crucial to the Norwegian society since the early middle Ages.


The first law encompassing ship registration was passed as early as in 1687.

Local ship registers

Due to Norway's extended coastline it was a pressing need to have local representation all along the coast. Around 50 local registers existed until 1972.

A new Maritime Code was passed in 1972

At the same time, the numbers of local registers were reduced to 27.

This code has later been replaced by the Norwegian Maritime Code of 24 June 1994 No. 39

The Norwegian International Ship Register- NIS

Established per 1 July 1987. The new register was then administered by the town clerk in Bergen along with the local "Bergen ship register".

5 May 1992

The Norwegian Ship Registers were established as an independent agency and placed under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1 August 1992

The 27 local registers were centralized into one, nationwide register: The Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register-NOR and localized together with the NIS in Bergen.


The Ship Registers NIS/NOR were placed under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

1 January 2012

The Ship Registers NIS/NOR are merged with The Norwegian Maritime Directorate to form the new Norwegian Maritime Authority.

2. Mandatory or voluntary registration?

Mandatory registration

Voluntary registration

3. Who can own a vessel in the NOR?

Owner must fulfill the nationality requirements set out in the the Norwegian Maritime Code of 24 June 1994 No. 39 S. 1: Norwegian or EEA nationals/entities. 

Accordingly, the shipowning company does not have to be established in Norway.
A Norwegian Process Agent/ Representative must, however, be appointed to accept writs on behalf of the owner. In addition, technical or commercial management must be made from Norway.

4. Management

When the shipowner does not satisfy the nationality requirements set out in § 1 no.1 of the Norwegian Maritime Code of 24 June 1994 No. 39 the technical or commercial management must be carried out by a Norwegian shipping company with its head office in Norway or by one of its manageme offices abroad. 

The management agreement is to be entered into between the owner and the Norwegian registered head office. The Norwegian registered head office will be recorded in the register.

  • Technical management: Those functions that are necessary in order to ensure the ship is operational. This covers manning, outfitting and maintenance.
  • Commercial management:  Ensures occupation of the ship. This includes preparation for contract negotiations, marketing and entering into charters.

5. About the former, local registers and histrorical files

The former 27 local registers
Historical files from the local registers