Ensigns, Permits and Burgees

Quick Links:


Wearing The Ensign

A member flies the Club's burgee. The member's yacht wears the Club's ensign.

The Club holds a warrant from the Ministry of Defence authorising its members to wear a Special or Privileged Ensign. This is currently the undefaced Blue Ensign.

Some of the regulations regarding the wearing of the Privilege Ensign are law (the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, as amended) and some are Club bye-laws.

The Club holds the warrant, and issues permits to members. Members themselves do not hold warrants. The Club makes no charge to Members for a permit.

The Law:
Permits are issued to individuals, not to the yacht. To be issued with a permit, the individual must be a Yachting Member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and a British Citizen. The owner shall be a Full Yachting Member of the Club. In the case of joint-ownership at least one of the owners shall be a Full Yachting Member of the Club and the other joint owner(s) shall be a Member, or a member of a Yacht club in the United Kingdom or Channel Islands to which a Warrant has been issued. All owners must be British Citizens. If the Privileged Ensign is being worn one of the permitted individuals must be on board or in effective control, and the permit must be on board.

The yacht must be registered as a British ship under either Part 1 or Part 3 (the Small Ships Register) of the British Register. Details of how to register, and a down-loadable application form, are available from the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, PO Box 420, Cardiff CF24 5XR and at www.mcga.gov.uk.

The yacht must be privately owned or privately chartered. The yacht must be being used for private pleasure purposes only and no form of commercial activity may occur on board while the ensign is being worn. Images of the yacht wearing the Blue Ensign may not subsequently be used for commercial purposes. The yacht's name may not contain any commercial element, including that of a sponsoring company or product.

The yacht must have marked on her transom either the Port of Registry or the name of a Yacht Club to which a Warrant from the Secretary of State has been issued. No more than two Yacht Club names may be carried on the transom.

The yacht must have a gross tonnage of at least 2 GT or a length overall of at least 7 metres.
If members break these laws, the MoD can act (and is known to have done so) to withdraw a Club's warrant.

The Club Rules:
In addition to the above, the Club's Yachting Bye-Laws require that the Club's burgee be flown at the masthead, never from the spreaders nor from rod rigging, while the Club's ensign is being worn. No exceptions are permitted. If the burgee cannot be flown from the masthead, the Privilege Ensign may not be worn (a standard British maritime ensign - the Red Ensign - should then be worn instead). If the yacht does not have a mast (e.g. a motor yacht) the burgee may be flown from a jackstaff forward.

There is only one type of blue permit issued by the Club - where previously we issued an Owner's and a Charterer's permit separately we now only issue one permit for those members whose yachts are privately owned, and for those members whose yachts are owned by a company, from which the yacht is chartered. Who owns the company is irrelevant.

The principal significant difference between permits issued for privately-owned and for chartered yachts is in the length of time for which the permits are issued. If the yacht is privately owned, the permit is valid for a period of five years (expiring 31st March) or until either the yacht is sold or the person named on the permit ceases to be a member of the Club. For a member chartering a yacht, we will only issue a permit valid for the period of the charter, and this is shown on the permit. If the charter is indefinite (for example, from a company owned by the permit-holding member) then the permit is valid from the time of issue for a period of five years ending on 31st March.

To obtain a permit, simply fill out the online application form - click here

You should expect to receive your permit within 2 weeks of submitting your application.

Withdrawal or Suspension of Permits:
The Club will withdraw or suspend the Permit of a member whose yacht is seen or shown to have been wearing the Privilege ensign in breach of either the law or the Club's bye-laws. This action is taken to safeguard for other members the Club's Warrant and the privilege of wearing the undefaced Blue. Such a course would not be undertaken without the member responsible for the alleged breach being given a proper opportunity to answer any such allegation.

Registry of Shipping and Seamen
Please click here to download a document which certifies that RTYC members are exempt from the Part 1 British Registration marking regulation which states that the vessel's Port of Registry must be permanently marked on its stern.

Transom Stickers - How to display the Club initials and badge on the transom

RTYC Transom Sticker Visual

A simple-to-apply transfer in the approved style is available from:
Tribune Graphics Limited,
Unit 11, Phase 2,
New Road Industrial Estate,
ME12 1DB

Telephone +44 (0)1795 580261, email mail@tribunegraphics.com. available on-line at www.tribunegraphics.com

Tribune Graphics can produce our badge and transom letters in a wide range of colours, sizes and even font styles.

Club initials on the transom are required when wearing the Club's privileged (Blue) ensign and when using the Club's pontoons either in Cowes or in Hamble. (The reason for the latter is, in particular, to inform the relevant Harbour Masters, not to mention fellow Members, that the yacht on the pontoon is entitled to be there.)  On the Cowes pontoon the Club burgee must also be flown, from the masthead. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Click here to download a copy of the instructions for the transom sticker and the contact details for Tribune Graphics.