If you have a sea-going vessel/ship, or even a fleet of them, you will need to make a decision about where you want your maritime registration to be held.

There are a number of different flags from all over the world offering the opportunity to be registered; each will provide its own specific advantages and rules which must be adhered to.

Opting for Malta means joining the largest and arguably most established shipping community in Europe, and having access to a port which is perfectly placed between Europe and Africa.

Malta is no longer to be a flag of convenience. In fact Maltese authorities in particular Transport Malta (ex Malta Maritime Authority) refers to the flag as a flag of confidence.

Here's a closer look at what ship registration in Malta brings and the benefit you can expect.

Long history

Lying in the Mediterranean beneath Italy but above the continent of Africa means that Malta occupies the perfect strategic position.

Historically, the country has been one of the most important in maritime trade thanks to both its location and the abundance of natural harbours. Over the decades Malta has built an impressive array of maritime services such as towage, ship supplies, specialised repair plus Freeport facilities.

This has helped the tiny nation to remain one of the giants on the global shipping stage, the 6th biggest in the world and the 2nd largest across Europe.

This history of maritime excellence has earned the Maltese shipping flag real respect and worldwide confidence in their quality and monitoring.

Maritime monitoring

Transport Malta holds responsibility for the registration of ships under the Maltese flag and also oversees the ongoing monitoring and administration of all those in the ship registry.

Transport Malta has taken huge steps to protect the integrity of the Maltese shipping flag and has launched a number of different initiatives. Included in these was the appointment of inspectors all over the world to carry out regular safety inspections and to ensure ships comply with Maltese regulations.

This rigorous approach to safety and monitoring combined with Malta's status as a member of the EU means that it has been placed on the Paris MOU White List. This provides ships and vessels with advantages such as fewer port inspections.

The benefits

It's clear that Malta has a very well-structured maritime/shipping industry and that it takes its responsibilities under its shipping flag very seriously. However, what benefits does registering with Malta provide to the owner of either a vessel or a fleet?

There are a number of different benefits to being registered with the Maltese flag, some of which are financial.

Maltese registered ships enjoy the following tax benefits:

  • Income tax exemption: no income tax on revenue earned from shipping activities (international carriage of goods and passengers for reward)
  • exempt from stamp duty on the sale of such a vessel
  • exemption from donation and succession duty on the capital

Other benefits include:

  • No trading restrictions
  • Double taxation agreements in place
  • Possibility of registering ships in the name of non-resident entities
  • Access to decision-makers within relevant authorities plus technical back-up
  • Simplified procedure for the purchase and sale of shares/equity held in a Maltese shipping company
  • Simplified process for the registration and deletion of all vessels

In addition, the Maltese flag doesn't pose any restrictions on the nationality of any of the crew serving on the vessel, nor the officers or the master. The nationality of any shareholders or directors is also unrestricted.

Other vessels which wouldn't normally be considered as a ship, such as an oil rig or a platform can be registered.

Malta has taken every possible step to ensure that its maritime regulations offer a real advantage to the ships that register under its flag and have in place responsible, efficient and useful legislation and procedures.

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.