Shipping - Malta Flag
Malta has a maritime tradition and culture that have been conducive to the country achieving a reputable open ship register ranking amongst the top ten registers in the world.
The Merchant Shipping Act, and subsidiary legislation, are mainly based on UK legislation, has subsequently been revised and further developed. This legislation regulates vessel registration under the Malta flag and the operation of Maltese ships.
The Malta Maritime Authority was set up as a distinct and autonomous corporate body to supervise the organisation of primary maritime services and vested with detailed regulatory powers to enable ports, merchant shipping and yachting centres to operate within a centralised and efficient framework.
Advantages of opting for the Malta register include:
- Low company formation and ship registration costs;
- Complete tax exemption to owners, charterers and financiers of Maltese ships of over 1,000 net tons - this exemption may also be extended to smaller ships;
- No restrictions on the nationality of the master, officers and crew;
- No restrictions on the sale or transfer of shares of a company owning Maltese ships;
- No restrictions on the sale and mortgaging of Maltese ships;
- No trading restrictions to Maltese ships in certain ports;
- Twenty four hour, seven days a week service in respect of urgent matters;
- Malta is an international maritime centre providing the entire range of maritime services.
Eligibility for Registration
All types of vessels, from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, may be registered, provided that, inter alia, they are either wholly owned by Maltese citizens or Maltese bodies corporate, or by international owners, that is, foreign legally constituted corporate bodies or other entities having legal personality, or citizens of a Member State of the European Union. The international owners must appoint a resident agent in Malta.
The formation of a Maltese company is a straightforward operation: there are no nationality requirements as to both the shareholders and directors.
As a rule, ships of 25 years and over are not registered. Ships of 20 years and over but under 25 years must pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector prior to being provisionally registered. Ships of 15 years and over but under 20 years must pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector before or within one month of provisional registration.