Frequently Asked Questions

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 the Fisheries Division (for sport fishing) 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. Vessels will require a Small Craft Safety Certificate and License from ADOMS.

Q. I have a commercial FV Licence from the Fisheries Division (no catch restrictions) with the vessel solely engaged in commercial fishing, 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, does this allow me to carry cargo and/or passengers?

A. No, the vessel would require a Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Safety Certificate and Licence from ADOMS.

Q.  I have a foreign registered vessel, 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 are required to declare their adherence to an equivalent standard.

Q.  I have a foreign registered vessel operating in Antigua & Barbuda waters under a Cruising Permit, 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 a certain time-period, up to a maximum of six consecutive months.

Q.  I have a tender belonging to a foreign registered vessel, that is operating in Antigua & Barbuda waters, do I also have to comply with the Small Craft Regulations?

A.  Yes, 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 mothership’s equipment, will likely be of the respective conformity. It is essential to carry the respective documentation aboard. 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 a 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 the Cruising Permit has expired, then to remain in Antigua & Barbuda waters the vessel should change to Antigua & Barbuda registry, or cancel the 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 advises 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, 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 a Safety Certificate and Licence. If a Jet Ski is operated commercially (hired out) then a copy of the Vendor’s Licence (from the Ministry of Tourism) is required, also evidence of the owner/operator having completed a 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.

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, 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 considered coastal waters, therefore an inflatable liferaft, buoyant apparatus or an inflatable boat (with a capacity for the total number of persons aboard) is 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 the grandfather clause) that for existing operators (prior to 1 January 2016) 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 affix identification markings on my vessel to show that 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. 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 fee and a 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. Guidance on reporting requirements for Marine accidents or incidents can be found on our website at the following link Marine casualties

Q. My Small commercial vessel has a valid Safety Certificate but underwent some repairs and modifications that were not a direct result of an accident. Do I need to report this to ADOMS ?

A. Yes, Whenever an accident occurs to a vessel or a deficit is discovered which affects the safety of the vessel or the efficiency or completeness of its life-saving appliances or other equipment, the master or owner of the vessel shall report it at the earliest opportunity to ADOMS, who shall determine if an inspection is necessary.

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 with prefix V2. This is the international radio call sign for Antigua and Barbuda registered vessels to be used for radio communication. 

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. 

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.

 Q. Can the wash water from the exhaust gas scrubbers on ships be discharged in Antigua and Barbuda ?

A. No. Wash water and residue from the EGCS  shall not be disposed of in Antigua and Barbuda ports or territorial waters but shall be stored onboard the ship until outside of Antigua and Barbuda territorial waters and then disposed.