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The Digital upgrade of the Cyprus flag

The Shipping Deputy Ministry to the President of Cyprus attaches great importance in the quality and speed of its services, which are tailored to its clients and available on a 24/7 basis. During the outbreak it remained fully operational and continued to provide its services without any disruption, providing, at the same time, facilitations to shipping companies and owners of Cyprus-flagged vessels.

By Zacharias Kapsis/Maritime Lawyer

The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in the rapid advancement of technology in the shipping sector and especially in Cyprus. To that extent, the Shipping Deputy Ministry, as the competent maritime authority made the best use of the digital technologies. More specifically, it has made significant progress to simplify formalities and transform its services to a paperless environment, providing electronic services, which increased the efficiency and attractiveness of the Cyprus Registry and its relevant services.

Online services provided in the Register of Cyprus Ships

The Shipping Deputy Ministry has recently upgraded its services with digitalisation and automatisation, allowing the electronic submission of seafarers’ applications, the electronic verification of certificates issued by the Cypriot registry and the management of the electronic Tonnage Tax System (TTS; an online tax calculator) through which beneficiaries (owners, charterers or ship managers of qualifying ships) can submit their applications. In addition, the Cyprus flag provides web services (eSAS) for Cypriot endorsements and seamen’s books, the recognition of the seafarers’ certificates of competency,  the administration of the seafarers’ e-learning platform and the ‘’Seafarers Career Information System’’ (SCIS), a career database to facilitate the employment of seafarers, including an interactive platform that allows seafarers to share career information with companies using the system.

Last but not least, the electronic ship registration process (online applications) in the Cypriot registry, the digitalisation of the archives of the Shipping Deputy Ministry and the Port State Control platform are under development and are expected to launch in the coming months.

Use of electronic certificates

Since 2018, the Shipping Deputy Ministry has accepted, in electronic form, statutory certificates issued to Cyprus-flagged vessels by the Recognised Organisations, provided that they satisfy the requirements set out in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Circular FAL.5/Circ.39/Rev.2, regarding the Guidelines for the use of electronic certificates. However, the existing practice of issuing of hard copy certificates remains acceptable.

Electronic Log Books (Deck Logbook) on Cyprus flagged vessels

In December 2020, the Shipping Deputy Ministry decided to accept the use of electronic deck logbooks as equivalent to the official deck logbooks that are published exclusively by the Cyprus flag, provided that the logbooks meet the requirements of IMO Resolution A.916(22) “Guidelines for the Recording of events related to Navigation”.

Use of Electronic Record Books (ERB) under MARPOL Convention

The Maritime Environment Protection Committee, in its 74th session in May 2019, adopted Resolutions MEPC.314 (74), MEPC.316 (74) and MEPC.317 (74), by which amendments to MARPOL Annexes I, II, V and VI and the Technical Code on Control of Emission of Nitrogen Oxides from Marine Diesel Engines (NOX Technical Code 2008) are entering into force, allowing the use of ERBs (oil, cargo, garbage and ozone-depleting substances record books, the record of fuel oil changeover and the record book of engine parameters) for the purposes of recording operations related to the above annexes. These amendments entered into force as of 1 October 2020.

On the basis of the above the Cyprus flag accepts the use of ERBs as an alternative means to a hard copy record-book, at the discretion of the shipowner/manager. Ships using an ERB do not need to keep a hard copy of the same record. However, it is advised to have on board the ship a hard copy of the relevant record book, for use in case of failure of the ERB, lack of power to the electronic equipment, or until crew familiarisation with the use of the equipment.

Zacharias Kapsis is a shipping lawyer. He specialises in maritime law, he is a member of the Larnaca Bar Association and the secretary of the Shipping Committee of the Cyprus Bar Association. He is also a member of the Aviation Committee and the Committee on Environment, Energy Law, and Investment Programs of the Cyprus Bar Association Zacharias obtained his bachelor’s degree in law from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece and pursued his master’s degree in maritime law at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. [email protected].

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