When registering a boat in a ships registrar, one of the requirements is that the application for registration is accompanied by the original Certificate of Withdrawal, in case the vessel was previous registered else ware.

Such a certificate confirms that the vessel has been removed from the ships registrar it was registered in before. This is required as, in principle, a vessel may not be registered in two ships registrars at the same time.


In certain countries the ships registrar demand the legalisation of the Certificate of Withdrawal. They require proof that the Certificate of Withdrawal is actually issued by the ships registrar. Legalising a document actually means nothing more than that certain official bodies verify and confirm the authenticity of the signature on a document.


Green Egg, an example

A pleasure craft called Green Egg was purchased in the Netherlands by an American national who lives in Dubai. The American national wants to register his newly acquired sailing monster in the United Arab Emirates because he is stationed there permanently.

The ships registrar in the UAE requires that the Certificate of Withdrawal is legalised, so before registering in the UAE the certificate will have to pass through some hands, being :


  1. the ships registrar in the Netherlands, whom issues the Certificate of Withdrawal;
  2. a public notary, whom confirms on the document that it is issued by the ships registrar and legalises the signature of the officer who signed the document;
  3. the courthouse verifies the signature of the public notary and legalises the signature of the notary;
  4. the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs does the same with the signature of the officer of the courthouse;
  5. finally, the embassy of the UAE legalises the document according to the requirements of the ship registrar in the UAE.


Depending on the embassy this whole process can take any ware between a few days to a week and can cost a few hundred to as much as a thousand or more Euros. The costs are for a large part determined by the number of parties that need to legalise signatures and the costs the embassy invoices. Some embassies are reasonable in their fees and others have less favourable charges.



Far more (cost) effective is the Apostille, which just requires the legalisation by a public notary and the courthouse.

An Apostille can however only be issued when the ship registrar is based in a country that participates in the Apostille Convention. From Albania to Zambia, a total of 83 countries accept an Apostille as a legalisation of the Certificate of Withdrawal.


Before requesting the legalisation of your Certificate of Withdrawal :

  1. inquire with the ships registrar were you want to register your vessel whether legalisation is a requirement;
  2. determine whether an Apostille is accepted or that you are to follow the long legalisation process.