The Dutch government wants more ships to fly the Dutch flag. To achieve this, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has launched the NL flag website, which is to be followed by a promotion campaign.

The NL flag website was launched at bi-annual maritime trade exhibition Europort on 7 November in Rotterdam. The new website is an all-encompassing information portal for the registration of sea-going vessels and superyachts under the Dutch flag. The portal is publicly available without restricted access. The website combines information on the vessel registration and certification process, manning requirements and the Netherlands’ shipping and tax policy.

For the first time, this data has been combined in one place and is available in English. ‘The initiative puts an end to the still highly fragmented and difficult to find information about the Dutch register,’ writes Martin Bloem, partner at maritime consultancy firm Marstrat, in an opinion piece on the Maritiem Nederland website.

More Vessels Flying the Dutch Flag

The Dutch government has the aim to increase the number of vessels flying the Dutch flag, currently over 1220, in order to continue to strengthen the maritime cluster in the Netherlands and to further develop maritime related economic activity and employment.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘The Netherlands has a rich maritime heritage and a strong performance in water management and maritime business. We are front runners with respect to innovation of the shipping sector. With a ship register ranked in the top of the Paris MoU (Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control Ed.), the Netherlands remains well represented at the International Maritime Organization with its main purpose of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.’

Telling the Story of the Dutch Flag

A lot of ship owners choose flags for their tax policies and/or the strictness of their environmental regulations. Popular flags include Malta, Panama and Liberia. According to Bloem in his column, the Netherlands has fallen behind in actively persuading ship owners to choose the Dutch flag by failing to communicate the benefits, such as its top ranking in the Paris MoU, the tonnage tax regime, and attractive fiscal arrangements for seafarers.

‘We need to tell our story much better,’ says Bloem. ‘From leading Dutch ship owners such as Spliethoff, Van Oord and Holland America Line who opt for the quality of the Dutch flag. From our highly successful and complete maritime services cluster. Of our high position on the Paris MoU White List and our international reputation as a responsible and sustainable maritime country.’

Bloem’s company is also the one selected to bring this message across as it will be executing a promotion campaign for the Dutch flag on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The launch of this promotion campaign coincided with the launch of the NL flag website.

Picture (from left to right): Raymond Ko (Marstrat), Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen and Sibrand Hassing (Royal Association of Netherlands’ Shipowners, KVNR) (Erik Jansen Fotografie).