Malta: An international maritime service centre

Malta, a country which has witnessed centuries of maritime tradition enjoys the status of an international maritime services centre at the heart of the Mediterranean. Thanks to its natural harbours and its peoples entrepreneurial and maritime skills Malta offers a whole range of maritime services and facilities: deep natural harbours and well equipped ports which offer a haven for international shipping, extensive bunkering, ship supplies and towage services, ship building and ship repair yards which can take the largest ships afloat, modern facilities for transhipment and distribution, including a very successful Freeport and oil terminal, high level training for both deck and engineering officers at a very well respected nautical school, a hub for cruise liners, international yacht marinas backed by efficient repair and shore support services and of course, a reputable international ship register which is now long established as one of the largest in the world.

The Malta flag: A flag of confidence

The Malta Flag is today a flag of confidence and a flag of choice. Its good standing is evidenced by the numerous reputable ship owning and ship management companies which register their ships in Malta, and also by the confidence shown by leading international banks and financiers who at times recommend the Maltese register.

Ship registration: All types of vessels may be registered

All types of vessels, from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, may be registered under the Malta Flag provided that, inter alia, they are either wholly owned by Maltese citizens or a Maltese company. Following amendments to our legislation, a vessel may be registered in Malta even if it is owned by foreign owners, that is citizens of the European Union or a foreign corporate body which enjoys legal personality. An international owner must appoint an agent resident in Malta.

There are neither trading restrictions nor age restrictions. However, ships of 15 years and over, but under 20 years, must pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector before or within a month of provisional registration. Ships of 20 years and over but less than 25 years must pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector prior to being provisionally registered.

As a rule, trading ships of 25 years and over are not registered.

More advantages

Apart from the aforementioned advantages, registering a ship in Malta offers further benefits: -

  • Straightforward company formation procedure and low formation and registration costs.
  • Ship registration is relatively straightforward.
  • Commercial Yacht Registry.
  • Tax exemptions and benefits for owners, charterers and financiers of Maltese ships.
  • Effective corporate tax rate of 5%.
  • The modification, maintenance, chartering and hiring of commercial ships are exempt from VAT.
  • The importation of commercial ships is exempt from VAT in certain specified circumstances.
  • Reduced VAT rates on Yacht leasing.
  • No restrictions on the nationality of the shareholders and of the directors of Maltese companies, and of the master, officers and crew of Maltese ships.
  • No restrictions on the sale and mortgaging of Maltese ships.
  • No trading restrictions.
  • Preferential treatment for Maltese ships in certain ports.
  • Serious and efficient maritime administration. –
  • Flag state inspectorate to ensure adherence to international standards.
  • Twenty four hours, seven days a week service in respect of urgent matters.
  • Sound multilateral and bilateral relations.
  • Active participation in international shipping for a.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.