How to register a commercial vessel in Malta

If you are the owner of a commercial vessel and you are interested in registering it under the Malta flag, then you will be happy to know that it is a relatively straightforward process.

When registering your vessel in Malta, you have the choice whether to register it under the name of a Shipping Organisation that is set up in Malta or register it in the name of a foreign owner through the Resident Agency Scheme.

In order to submit a provisional registration (which also allows you to operate) to the Malta flag, you need to complete the following steps:

  1. File an application that includes all of the vessel information, as well as a declaration that states the details of the vessel and that the Maltese company or the individual is the owner of the vessel.
  2. You then must file an application for a Safe Manning Certificate which lays out the minimum numbers of the crew that must be on board to run the ship, as per the law.
  3. You must then give direct confirmation to the Registrar of Shipping, from the vessels classification society that the commercial vessel is classed correctly and is in a position of the applicable safety certificates. If these certificates have expired, the vessel will be registered on the promise that the declaration of class is correct, but the certificate will not be released until the classification society confirms this.
  4. Then you need to file the International Tonnage Certificate of the vessel.
  5. In the case of a cargo or bulk carrier, a passage vessel, or a tanker, a copy of the Ships Management Certificate and a copy of the Document of Compliance of the Managers must also be filed. Any ship exceeding 500 gross tons is required to do this by law.
  6. You must also present a copy of your International Ship Security Certificate at the Malta Maritime Authority.
  7. After each step is complete you must transfer all funds applicable to fees and processing, as stipulated by the Malta Maritime Authority.

Once the vessel has been registered provisionally, other documents such as the bill of sale, and deletion certificate must be presented to the authority within six months to facilitate permanent registration. If the vessel is newly built, you are also required to obtain a Builder’s Certificate to indicate the identity of the proposed new owner.

What are the benefits of registering a commercial vessel in Malta?
  • You are not required to pay income tax on the income of a Ship Owning Organisation as long as the vessels are registered under the Maltese Flag.
  • Dividends that are paid to shareholders of the Ship Owning organisation are not subject to taxation.
  • The ability to register a vessel under a provisional non-operational certificate whilst the vessel is still under construction.
  • Quick crew acknowledgement processes with STCW applications being processed within three months.
  • The ability to securitise or avail of tailor-made financial structures depending on the individual case.
  • Quick and efficient mortgage registration that can even be undertaken whilst the vessel is still under construction.

When registering a commercial vessel under any flag state, it is always recommended to seek legal, financial and fiscal advice from professionals that are familiar with the jurisdiction. This will help to mitigate the risk of any mistakes, downtime, or failure to avail oneself of benefits or opportunities. To speak to one of E&S Group’s maritime advisors, please contact us by sending us an email on [email protected] or by telephone on +356 2010 3020