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What we do

Ensign will:

  1. Survey any vessel for which the MCA Large Commercial Yacht Code is relevant and issue a certificate on satisfactory completion of survey.
  2. Provide a service to owners, builders and designers for the examination of, and comment upon, any vessel projects for compliance with the Code.

Ensign offers:

  1. A dedicated team of surveyors and support staff widely experienced in the application of the MCA Large Commercial Yacht Code.
  2. A customer friendly, efficient service to all sectors of the large yacht industry.
  3. Unrivalled experience in application and interpretation of the Code.
  4. A service to owners, builders and designers, regardless of where the vessel is registered.
  5. Because the MCA introduced the Code it can interpret it safely and accurately.

Large Yacht Surveys

Ensign, the Large Yacht Unit of the MCA, should always carry out the surveys on UK large commercial yachts. However, where the eventual flag is unknown, or other than British, Ensign can still carry out a survey for compliance with the LY2 Code. It should be noted that the documentation Ensign issue, either a Charter Yacht Certificate or a Letter of Compliance, may not have any official standing with other flag authorities, but it would indicate a standard of safety as required by the Code. If the flag was known to be Red Ensign but not UK; for example Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, BVI or the Isle of Man; that administration should be approached for surveys.

Yacht builders should note that when drawing up contracts which call for a Charter Yacht Certificate, some items eg crew qualifications and ISM requirements are beyond their control and in the hands of the owner. In such cases a Letter of Compliance should be stipulated.

A Division of Responsibilities is available showing who has responsibility for the survey of each of the different Code sections. It will be noted that a large part, comprising the hull and machinery, falls to the class society. For the sections that are assigned to the MCA, Ensign would carry out the plan approval and survey. An Ensign surveyor would probably visit a minimum of three times, once at an early stage, once to witness stability tests (when construction is 98% complete) and a final visit on completion. This is dependent on location, and how well surveys are presented.

For Ensign to issue the final documentation, a statement from the class society indicating that their assigned sections of the Code have been satisfactorily completed would be required.

Class should issue an International Load Line Certificate using the relaxations permitted by the Code, and a certificate of commercial classification. If the vessel is over 500gt, Class should also issue a Cargo Ship Construction certificate. Class Societies recognised by the MCA are ABS, BV, DNV, GL, LR and RINA.

For the sections of the Code which the MCA would consider, a list of drawings is provided which would help in the survey. These should be submitted early in the project to prevent any problems once construction is complete.

With effect from 1st April 2010 our fees are GBP 130 per hour for plan approval, survey and travel, plus expenses and we are required to obtain a deposit in advance and to maintain the account in credit thereafter. We have no involvement with the fees charged by the class society.

The full name of the original Code is the Code of Practice for Safety of Large Commercial Sailing and Motor Vessels (now known as LY1). A revised code, The Large Commercial Yacht Code (LY2) was published in August 2005 and is the current standard.

If you wish to proceed with the survey, please complete and return the Application for Survey and Yacht Information Sheet available below.

Documents to download

Division of responsibilities LY2 (pdf 47kb)

Yacht Information Sheet - Existing (pdf 66kb)

Drawing list (pdf 12kb)

Yacht Information Sheet - Newbuild (pdf 65kb)

Application for survey - large yacht (pdf 88kb)

Exemption Certificate & Application Form (183 kb)

Guidance information

Large Yacht Code

Passenger Yacht Code


Yacht Management

Yacht Master’s Guide to the UK Flag


Contact Us


Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Compass House

Tyne Dock

South Shields

Tyne and Wear NE34 9PY

Tel: +44 (0)191 4969916/17

Fax: +44 (0)191 4969923


Revised 03/2011