Companies registering on the island will no longer have to convert into a non-shipping company - and then back again.

Malta has moved to make its territory and register more attractive for shipowners by removing a strange legal requirement.

Before altering its merchant shipping regulations earlier this year, any company re-domiciling its operations to the island would have to convert into a non-shipping company, before converting back again.

Maltese law firm GANADO Advocates' partner Jotham Scerri-Diacono and associate Jan Rossi said this problem has now been solved through a change published in the Government Gazette.

"This time-consuming and burdensome procedure has now been removed," they added.

They said the change "further improved the legislative and regulatory position in the area".

Malta aims to offer continuation for overseas companies moving to the island.

"Continuation seeks to ensure the continued existence of the same legal person. Accordingly, the company retains all the assets, rights, liabilities and obligations previously held or due by it," the lawyers wrote.

"Re-domiciliation into Malta is a useful and advantageous route for those existing shipping companies or shipping groups wishing to move their corporate seat to Malta."

They avoid incurring winding up costs overseas and the expense of setting up a new corporate identity in Malta.

This also lets them re-flag ships to the Maltese register.

Point of entry for ships

"Indeed, the whole re-domiciliation exercise, combined with the registration of the underlying owned or operated vessels in Malta, may well serve as a point of entry into the Maltese tonnage tax system," the GANADO Advocates' lawyers said.

Re-domiciliation is only possible if the laws of the concerned jurisdiction (other than Malta) allow so.

Additionally, re-domiciliation may take place only when the foreign jurisdiction is considered as an "approved country or jurisdiction".

In this regard, the relevant authority in Malta relies on the Financial Action Task Force country evaluations and treats as an approved jurisdiction a country that is not on the task force's blacklist.

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