Classification Societies (sometimes just referred to as “Class”) are non-governmental organisations in the shipping industry. They establish and maintain standards for the classification of vessels, including yachts, and supervise construction according to these standards. They also carry out surveys of vessels to ensure compliance to these standards.

Classification Societies will issue Class Certificates of survey on completion if the yacht has been built in accordance with their rules and regulations. They are also granted powers by governments to issue Loadline, Tonnage and Safety Certificates for merchant shipping operating on their respective registries. However, Class Certificates are not a warranty for safety, seaworthiness or fitness for purpose of the vessel. It only ratifies that the vessel is in compliance with the Society’s rules and regulations.

Classification is voluntary, unless a Flag State and insurance underwriters require it. Quite often Flag States will delegate surveys to the relevant Classification Society.

Possible Benefits of Building to Class:

  • The owner can be reassured that the vessel has been built to a recognised standard by qualified and certified personnel
  • The hull materials have to be of an approved and certified type
  • The Classification Certificate will be recognised by insurance companies and should result in lower premiums
  • The resale value of the vessel should be enhanced


Classification Societies (Links)

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)

Bureau Veritas (BV)

Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK)

Det Norske Veritas (DNV)/Germanisher Lloyd (GL)

Lloyds Register (LR)

Registro Italiano Navele (RINA)


International Association of Classification Societies

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