Update: Changes to the Canadian Registry of Vessels

Major changes are occurring at the Canadian Registry of Vessels (“CRV”). In an attempt to reduce the deficit through budget cuts, the Federal Government is consolidating the CRV into one office in Ottawa.

This means that the Port of Vancouver CRV office will permanently close on January 1, 2013, and move to Ottawa. The Ottawa office will be secured, meaning that public access for searches and transactions will no longer be possible.

As a further consequence of these budget cuts, we understand that the number of active Registrars will be cut in half; and, registration and verification procedures for Registrars may revert to pen-and-paper based logs.

The effect of the changes will be significant delays.

It has been suggested that current processing times at the CRV will double or triple for Vancouver applicants registering new ships, or transferring ownership for existing ships.

Furthermore, because the new CRV building will be secure, it will not be possible for any member of the public to attend the CRV upon closing to exchange a ship’s registration for payment, as has been common in the past.

What is the solution to these impending changes?

We suggest that contracts of purchase and sale for vessels include holdback amounts and holdback periods which would ideally account for the expected increase in processing delays at the CRV.

We also suggest that, like the current real estate practice of mutual undertakings between the vendor’s and the purchaser’s solicitors regarding the discharge of mortgages on the sale of real property, the parties to a ship sale mutually undertake to hold back appropriate monies and agree to vary or void a transfer of ownership if the CRV eventually rejects the documents or does not complete registration within the time agreed to between the parties.

Please note that online searches of the CRV should still be possible in order to determine the registration status of a vessel.

For further information on the scope of changes to the CRV please see Transport Canada’s website at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/oep-vesselreg-registration-menu-4217.htm or contact Doug Schmitt.