Why Malta?

Through the enactment of the 1973 Merchant Shipping Act, the Malta Flag was formally established as an ‘open’ register. This proved to be the catalyst which triggered Malta’s steady success in the maritime industry. In fact, Malta’s shipping registry is the largest in Europe and 6th largest in the world.

How was this achieved? To start with, Malta’s heritage in the maritime sector has left it with substantial experience in all Maritime Law matters. This experience, coupled with the fact that Malta is on the low risk ship list (whitelist) of both the Paris MoU and the Tokyo MoU, makes the Malta Flag a reputable one. Moreover, Malta’s straightforward registration procedure and effective tax minimisation structures in certain cases, continue to make Malta an attractive maritime law hub.

The Advantages of the Malta Flag

Defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the flag state is the state which may exercise jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag. In so-doing, each State party to the Convention must maintain a register of ships with the names and particulars of ships flying its flag, and under its internal law, assume jurisdiction over each ship flying its flag and its master, officers and crew in respect of administrative, technical and social matters concerning the ship.

Registration has a dual function in that it has a public function by carrying the sovereignty of the state whose flag it being flown as well a private function in that it is a moveable property over which one or more persons have rights which, at law, are considered worthy of protection. It is these functions that form the basis of the factors that must be assessed in deciding a flag of choice.

As evidenced by Malta’s position as the largest registry in the EU and the seventh largest in the World, Malta excels in the following sectors:

  1. Experience and Reputation
  2. Legal infrastructure and support
  3. Access to capital markets and exchange control
  4. Competitive Fees and Low taxation rates
  5. Political Stability
  6. Vessel eligibility
  7. Compatible registry for bareboat chartering
  8. Straightforward Registration Process
  9. Unconditional rules on nationality of crews
  10. Low company formation costs
  11. Sound banks
  12. No trading restrictions

Malta is well-aware that to retain its highly-ranked position in the dynamic shipping industry, it must meet the needs of international operators and thus continue to fulfill the one-stop shop concept.

The efficiency of registration in Malta complements the low company formation and ship registration costs, the attractive fiscal incentives to owners, no duty on the sale or transfer of shares of a company owning Maltese ships, no trading restrictions and preferential treatment to its ships in certain ports.


Malta Yacht Registration is a very expeditious straightforward process, which offers numerous of potential benefits and appealing incentives to yacht owners. This being conducive to making Malta Yacht Registration as one of the most popular processes resorted to in Europe.

Malta is ideal for yacht registration since it is the largest maritime registry in Europe and the 6th largest in the world.

Malta's success in the maritime industry is primarily due to two main pillars:

(1) The reputability of its flag and register.

Malta's strong maritime tradition, due to Malta's topographical location in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, has bestowed a certain degree of reputability onto Malta Yacht Register and to the Maltese flag. Malta Yacht Registration provides for a simplistic procedure for both registration and deletion of vessels including competitive registration and renewal fees. It also guarantees a 24-hour service to deal with urgent matters.

Malta maritime flag is one which is widely known and respected by most of the port authorities across the world. Moreover, there is a flag state inspectorate to ensure adherence to international standards and there are no restrictions on the nationality of the master, officers and crew serving on the Maltese vessels. This guarantees a certain degree of flexibility.

(2) Tax Haven: Possibility of fiscal planning and VAT payment minimization.

Malta Yacht Registration provides both securities for financiers and incentives including favourable tax regimes in certain particular scenarios, even potentially down to 5.4%.

Malta Yacht Registration : Types of Registered Vessels

Any type of marine vessels, be it large cruise lines, super tankers or private yachts may be registered through Malta Yacht Registration. Yachts, depending on their intended use, can be registered via the Malta Yacht Registration, under the Maltese flag, as either private pleasure yachts or as a commercial yacht.

Through Malta Yacht Registration, yachts may be registered as either Private Pleasure Yacht or Commercial Yacht.

The Merchant Shipping Directorate considers;

Private pleasure registered yacht – as any pleasure yacht, of 6 metres in length or more, which does not carry passengers for reward and is not engaged in trade. Principally it must be used for the sole purpose of the owner.
Commercial registered yacht – as a yacht, of 15 metres in length or more but not more than 3000 gross tonnes, which do not carry cargo, carries not more than 12 passengers and is operated by the owner or body corporate owning the yacht for commercial use.

Malta Yacht Registration

Malta Yacht Registration, under the Maltese flag, occurs in two stages. Firstly, the vessel will be registered and issued with a provisional certificate of registration that is valid for six months and for which only a few documents are required to be filed with the Maltese Maritime Authority. During, the running of the provisional registration, all the required documents and certificates will have to be filed with the Maltese Maritime Authority and surveys taken place. When all of this is concluded, a certificate of registration will be issued by the Maltese Maritime Authority.

Surveys are generally undertaken by Maltese Government-appointed surveyors or alternatively by international classification societies which are recognised by the Maltese Maritime Authority.

Moreover, any yacht (pleasure or commercial) spending more than 6 months in any calendar year sailing in the EU VAT zone waters shall be liable to VAT in the place of effective importation, irrespective of its ownership. Upon payment of the said VAT, a yacht has the right to free movement throughout the entire EU VAT zone. Consequently, yacht owners must ensure that proof of VAT payment is always carried on board in order to obtain clearance from customs officials present in EU ports.