Frequently asked questions

Lloyd’s Register receives numerous enquiries every day. This section gives advice and information based on the most common queries that we answer. Many of the subjects below have links to our information sheets or to external organisations that may be able to help you further.


How do I find out more about ship’s captains or masters?

The name (often just the surname) of a ship’s master or captain was recorded in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships between 1764 and 1921. This is the only information that we hold relating to Ships’ masters.  More detailed records can be found in Lloyd’s of London’s Lloyd’s Captains’ Register. This was published from 1868 to 1947 and can be viewed at the Guildhall Library. Please see Infosheet no.3 for further details. Some indexes to the Captain’s Registers have been produced and can be viewed online at: www.history.ac.uk/gh/capintro.htm

What is classification?
Lloyd’s Register is a classification and risk management organisation. Classification is the laying down of standards for the construction and maintenance of ships. Compliance to these standards, published as Rules and Regulations , ensures assignment and maintenance of the class +100A1. For a full explanation of classification see Infosheet no.35 and for the history of classification see Infosheet no.32 . Details of other major Classification Societies can be found on Infosheet no.15.

Do you have information on crew members?
No, Lloyd’s Register has never recorded information relating to crew. Crew lists and agreements are held in several different locations. The Registry of Shipping in Cardiff keep current Merchant Navy seamen’s sea service records dating from 1994, as well as more limited records dating from 1973 to 1993. The National Archives hold the majority of the early records of the Registry of Shipping from 1835 onwards. For 1861-1938 and 1951-1990, a 10% sample of all log books and crew agreements are held at the National Archives. The remainder are distributed between the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Please see Infosheet no.2 for further details.

What details can I get on vessels currently in service? 
Researchers are welcome to come into the Heritage & Education Centre library to view the latest edition of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships free of charge. Lloyd’s Register can provide information on vessels that are currently in service by using the Lloyd’s Register of Ships and our online database Sea-Web. For subscribers to these products we offer a free telephone enquiry service on +44 (0)20 7423 2475, please note that this service is not available to non-subscribers. Heritage & Education Centre can also provide research for use in legal cases, as well as producing statements of information on vessel ownership, flag, age, and so on. A commercial fee scale is in place for this type of research, please email info@lr.org for further details or to request a quote.

Do you produce Declaration of Age Certificates? 
Yes, Lloyd’s Register can provide a certificate verifying the age of a vessel as recorded in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships for a fee.  Please email info@lr.org for further details or a quote.

I want to know about freighter travel
Lloyd’s Register cannot provide information relating to freighter travel or companies that take passengers aboard freight ships.  Specialist cruise and travel agents can help with this. Please see Infosheet no.14 for details.

Can you give me historical information on ships?
The Lloyd’s Register of Ships has been published since 1764 and we have copies of every edition available to researchers free of charge in our Heritage & Education Centre library. We can also carry out historical research on your behalf for a fee. Details of our collection and research charges can be found on Infosheet no.10.

Do you keep insurance records?
No. It is a common misconception that Lloyd’s Register is part of the insurance market Lloyd’s of London.  We are in fact a completely separate organisation and have nothing to do with insurance.  Lloyd’s of London ( www.lloyds.com ) should be contacted with regard to enquiries about marine insurance, but please be aware that insurance information on historical vessels is now usually only found within the records of vessel owners, where they exist.

What is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Number?
In 1963 Lloyd’s Register decided to identify all ships recorded in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships by a unique six figure number which was to remain unique to a ship throughout its life, irrespective of conversions and name changes, and never to be re-applied to another ship. This number is now seven digits long and was subsequently adopted by the International Maritime Organization as a means of identifying ships; the IMO number.  Please see Infosheet no.45 for further information.

Do you provide information for legal enquiries?
Yes. Research can be carried out for legal cases and statements of information such as vessel ownership, flag, age, etc. for a fee, please email info@lr.org for further details.

I want to find out about Lloyd’s Medals. 
In the nineteenth century, the completely separate Lloyd’s of London established a system of medals to recognise acts of courage at sea. The first medal awarded by Lloyd's of London was Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea, instituted in 1836. For information on Lloyd’s Medals please contact the Guildhall Library, which holds the Lloyd’s Marine Collection. See Infosheet no.3 for further details.

Are you the same as Lloyd’s of London?
No. Contrary to popular belief, Lloyd’s Register and Lloyd’s of London are two completely separate organisations, with only the origin of our names in common. Both organisations owe their name and foundation to a seventeenth century coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd and located in great Tower Street. Please see Infosheet no. 16 to find out more about Edward Lloyd, and see Infosheet no.31 for further details on Lloyd’s Register.  

What is Lloyd’s List and where can I view it? 
Lloyd's List is a newspaper which reports shipping casualties, movements, maritime news and commercial information. The earliest surviving edition is from 1741 and copies can be viewed on microfilm at the Guildhall Library. Please see Infosheet no.3 for further details. A good research guide to Lloyd’s List can be found on the National Maritime Museum’s web site, where they also hold a good collection of the publication. The current newspaper Lloyd’s List is produced by Informa Publishing, more information can be found through their website: www.lloydslist.com

What is the Lloyd’s Register of Ships?
The Lloyd’s Register of Ships was first published in 1764. It has been produced annually since 1775 and records the details of merchant vessels of the world. Since the 1870’s Lloyd’s Register has tried to include all merchant vessels over 100 gross tonnes, which are self-propelled and sea-going, regardless of classification. Before this time only those vessels classed by Lloyd’s Register were listed. Vessels are listed alphabetically by their current name. Please see Infosheet no.10 for further details on the contents of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships , and Infosheet no.44 to help guide your research when using it. You can view some of the Lloyd's Register of Ships online. Other collections of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships in the UK are listed on Infosheet no.17 and collections on Europe can be found on Infosheet no.46. Current editions are available to purchase through IHS Fairplay www.ihsfairplay.com.

What is the difference between the Mercantile Navy List and the Lloyd’s Register of Ships?
The Mercantile Navy List has been produced since 1850, and the Lloyd’s Register of Ships since 1764. The publications differ as the Mercantile Navy List only covers British registered vessels, whereas since 1886 Lloyd`s Register of Ships has listed every seagoing ship in the world over 100 gross tons. However, the Mercantile Navy List includes small vessels not included in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships , down to a quarter of a ton; and from 1850 to 1874, the Mercantile Navy List included a number of quite large British ships which were not found in Lloyd’s Register of Ships . A good explanation of the Mercantile Navy List and list of places to view copies can be found through the Plimsoll.org site. Please also see Infosheet no.43 for further details.

How do you get an official number?
The official number is the number assigned to a vessel by its registering authority. Lloyd’s Register is not a registration authority and does not assign official numbers. Since 1872, official numbers have been recorded in the Lloyd’s Register of Ships under each ship’s name. To obtain details of a ship’s registration or official number you can consult the Lloyd’s Register of Ships , or for the most recent details, contact the relevant authority for that flag state – the embassy of the country in which the ship is registered should be able to provide contact details.  If the vessel is UK registered you need to contact the Registry of Shipping and Seamen. Please see Infosheet no.2 for details. 

I want to look at passenger lists.
Lloyd's Register does not keep information on ships' passengers, crew, cargo or voyages. For information on BT27 Outward Passenger Lists for long-distance voyages leaving the British Isles from 1960 to 1890 there is an online database which you can search. This has been created by Findmypast.com, in association with The National Archives. Please follow this link to use it: http://www.ancestorsonboard.com/ . Further details for researching Inward and Outward passenger lists can be found on Infosheet no.29.

How do I find out about shipwrecks?
There is no centralised source of information relating to shipwrecks that occurred before 1741.  Between 1875 and 1904 a list of vessels removed from the British Register was published in the Mercantile Navy List . Early ‘posted’ editions of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships often include the fate of a vessel. Brief ship details and the date and place of loss have been recorded in the Quarterly Casualty Returns since July 1890. This does not pertain to lives lost at sea, as one might expect, but to total losses of ocean-going merchant ships over 100 gross tonnes. Copies of the Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns can be viewed in the Heritage & Education Centre Library. Please see Infosheet no.12 for further details and other locations including the Guildhall Library.

Did Lloyd’s Register class the Titanic?
No. Lloyd’s Register was not requested by White Star Line to survey the Titanic , hence she was not classed and we have relatively little original information on her. The vessel did, however, appear in the 1912-1913 edition of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships . Please see Infosheet no.18 for further details.

Can you tell me about ships’ voyages?
No. For information on voyages and sources to research these please see Infosheet no.3.

Where can I research my yacht? 
The Heritage & Education Centre Library has a complete collection of the Lloyd’s Register of Yachts 1878 to 1980, and Lloyd’s Register of Classed Yachts 1981 to 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002. This is an annual Register, which lists British and Foreign yachts classed by Lloyd’s Register, yachts belonging to subscribers to Lloyd’s Register publications and certain other yachts above a specified size. It is not a comprehensive source. The Register of Yachts is organised alphabetically by name of yacht. Lloyd’s Register also published a register showing details of American yachts. Named Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts from 1903 to 1977 and renamed North American Yacht Register for its last two years of publication in 1978 and 1979. For further details see Infosheet no.10. Other collections are listed on Infosheet no.17.

Do you have ships’ photographs and plans?
No. Lloyd’s Register does not have a photographic archive and while we can offer historical information on merchant ships over 100 gross tons and yachts, it is rare that we can help with illustrations. To help researchers looking for this kind of material, we have compiled Infosheet no.9 listing institutions and individuals that can provide photographs. At the end of the list are contacts for ship and yacht plans.

I want help researching my family tree. 
We often receive requests for crew agreements, passenger lists, as well as information on the careers of Captains and of seamen. Lloyd’s Register has never recorded such details and as such can be of little help to genealogists. We have, however, collated various useful sources, including suggested reading, contact addresses and advice, from relevant institutions and hope that this will assist you with your research. Please see Infosheet no.24 for details and useful sources for genealogists.

Where can I find information on the offshore industry.  
Sources for research on the offshore industry are listed in Infosheet no. 52.