SYBAss makes sure that rules which impact superyachts take into account the unique nature of these vessels and the way they are operated.

We do this by monitoring regulatory developments and championing the interests of the superyacht industry.

From environmental and safety rules to class regulations, we maintain close relationships with regulators. The trend towards more regulations – and their increasing internationalisation – makes it vital that the superyacht builders speak with one strong voice. This voice is heard through SYBAss’ active involvement with regulatory bodies.

Technical regulations are of crucial importance; they involve much more than class society requirements, which focus on construction and maintenance rules. SYBAss plays a prominent role in discussions on regulations, maintains good relations with flag states and agencies such as the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), and has permanent consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

SYBAss’ view on technical rules and regulations
Safe operation

Rules and regulations should ensure safe and environmentally-friendly operation of all vessels according to international standards.

Tailored regulations

Rules and regulations designed for the maritime industry cannot always be replicated in superyachts and may require substantial equivalent solutions.

Level playing field

Interpretations of rules and regulations should always support a level playing field rather than creating competitive advantage for certain players over others.

International Maritime Organization

In 2013, SYBAss obtained permanent consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the agency of the United Nations entrusted with setting the global standard for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. SYBAss regularly attends committee and subcommittee meetings related to safety and the environment as well as participating in associated working groups and correspondence groups to represent superyacht builders and the superyacht industry at large.

In the latter two groups, SYBAss actively participates in the development of new proposals or amendments to existing regulations in order to ensure that they take into account the unique nature of the superyacht sector. SYBAss only requests exceptions to rules or postponements in case of issues that do not apply for superyachts or when accepted technical solutions are as yet unfit to superyachts, or when more advanced solutions are already common practice in the superyacht industry.

Through regular reports, SYBAss keeps its members informed about developments within the IMO. SYBAss also assists journalists from superyacht magazines by providing them with relevant information and reviewing their IMO-related articles so that the wider industry can stay well informed about regulatory developments.

SYBAss attends the following meetings:

  • Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)
  • Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)
  • Ship Design and Construction Subcomittee(SDC)
  • Pollution Prevention and Response Subcomittee (PPR)
  • Ship Systems and Equipment Subcomittee (SSE)
  • IMO Council
  • IMO Assembly

SYBAss participates in the following working groups:

  • Intact Stability (SDC)
  • Non-SOLAS Ships Navigating in Polar Waters (SDC)
  • Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency (MEPC)
  • Green House Gas (MEPC)

SYBAss participates in the following correspondence groups:

  •  Second-generation Intact Stability Criteria (SDC)
  • EEDI Review Group (MEPC)
  • Amendments to the Guidelines for Vessels with Dynamic Positioning (DP) Systems (SSE)
  • Non-SOLAS Ships Navigating in Polar Waters (SDC)

Yacht codes

A yacht code is a set of regulations that covers both the construction and operation of a yacht to ensure it is safe, reliable and seaworthy. SYBAss was closely involved in the development of both the Large Yacht Code (for yachts that carry up to 12 passengers) and the Passenger Yacht Code (for yachts that carry 13 to 36 passengers), both issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as the Red Ensign Group (REG) Yacht Code, a consolidated version of the two aforementioned codes, endorsed by all Red Ensign Group flagstates. All three codes are accepted by IMO as equivalent to the main IMO conventions concerning ship safety (SOLAS) and pollution prevention (MARPOL) and have achieved international recognition.

The importance of having a voice at the regulatory level

SYBAss’ decisive role in calling for an urgent review of accommodation requirements for large yachts is a clear example of the importance of having a collective voice at a regulatory level. In early 2012, the third version of the Large Yacht Code was introduced. This specified that the full Maritime Labour Convention requirements would apply for yachts over 3000 gross tonnage (GT). SYBAss quickly ascertained that this would have significant adverse consequences for the industry and, alongside other industry associations, immediately took action. Following the collective request, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency agreed to make changes to the code on the basis of a set of substantially equivalent arrangements. Without SYBAss’ intervention, such a requirement would have prohibited yachts between 3000-5000 GT from being able to be built due to restrictions on interior space.

The Red Ensign Group Yacht Code

The Red Ensign Group developed a new regulatory framework for yachts, titled ‘Red Ensign Group Yacht Code’. The code consolidates an updated version of the Large Yacht Code (LY3), and the latest version of the Passenger Yacht Code (PYC), combining the lessons learned from almost 20 years of regulating the large yacht sector. This new code was first announced in January 2017. In the two years preceding its implementation date, SYBAss worked closely with the Red Ensign Group to ensure that the rules would be fit for purpose. Ultimately, a significant number of amendments were made thanks to SYBAss’ involvement that resulted in a far more practical yacht code. The Red Ensign Group Yacht Code came into force on 1 January 2019.


Maturing industries increasingly require improved and standardised processes in order to reduce errors and set minimum quality levels that clients can expect. With the establishment of the ISO Technical Committee 8 – Subcommittee 12 in 2006, the large yacht industry was given its own ISO subcommittee. By actively participating in the various working groups of this subcommittee, SYBAss and its member shipyards cooperate with industry partners to develop large yacht standards for improved professionalism in the superyacht industry, primarily in the fields of coatings, equipment, safety and design. SYBAss holds Liaison A status.