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The state chosen by merchant ships to be registered in, so that the vessel is bound to carry the flag of that state and comply with its rules and regulations. The flag state is responsible for enforcing regulations over these vessels in accordance with the international maritime rules and stipulations. For a country to be included in the list of flag states, it must have the necessary maritime infrastructure —both financial and technical—and should adhere to all the norms and regulations established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). However, the flag state of a vessel does not necessarily correspond to the country of origin of the ship owner.
See also FOC.