Compliance With Chinese National Flag Regulations For Ships


  • Ships operating in Chinese waters must adhere to specific regulations concerning the flying of the Chinese National Flag
  • The UK P&I Club’s correspondents, Huatai, have provided guidance on this issue following incidents where ships faced penalties from the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) for improper flag flying.

The laws and regulations that govern the flying of the Chinese National Flag on ships include the “Maritime Traffic Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China,” which requires ships to apply for nationality registration and obtain a nationality certificate from the maritime safety administration before navigating, berthing, or operating under the Chinese flag.

Additionally, the “Measures for the Administration of Flying the National Flag on Ships” state that foreign ships entering Chinese waters, ports, and anchorages must fly the Chinese National Flag daily. The flag must be clean and tidy and must not be damaged, defiled, faded, or substandard.

The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the National Flag prohibits the use of damaged, defiled, faded, or substandard national flags and specifies penalties for such violations.

Loss Prevention

Ships and crew members who violate the laws regarding the Chinese National Flag may be ordered by the MSA to rectify the situation immediately and could face penalties according to Chinese law. If a foreign ship refuses to comply, the MSA may order it to leave Chinese waters.

To prevent such issues, the UK P&I Club recommends that responsible crew members receive training to understand the requirements for flying the Chinese National Flag. Ships should ensure they have enough standard Chinese National Flags before entering Chinese waters and properly fly the flag to avoid penalties for violations.

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Source: Safety4sea