Malta has a long and varied maritime tradition and has established itself as a maritime leader in the Mediterranean region and the world. The island has developed into a centre of excellence in the industry providing the whole range of international maritime services.
Merchant shipping is regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act (the “Act”) which had formally brought into existence the “open” Malta register. The register has continued to grow over the years and now ranks in the top ten largest registers worldwide. In recent years, Malta has acceded to all the major international maritime conventions ensuring, amongst other things, that international maritime policies relating to pollution, safety at sea and insurance coverage are adhered to.
The entity designated by law to ensure compliance with all legislative requirements is the Merchant Shipping Directorate within the Authority for Transport in Malta (the “Authority”).
All vessel types may be registered, from yachts to oil rigs including vessels under construction as long as they are owned by either EU citizens or any legally constituted body regardless of nationality.
The incorporation of a Maltese shipping company is a straightforward process where shareholders and directors need not be Maltese nationals. A power of attorney authorising VCS to act on your behalf will enable us to take care of all the requirements for such incorporation.
The Registration Process
A vessel is initially provisionally registered under the Malta flag for 6 months, which period may be further extended for an additional period not exceeding 6 months. Throughout this period all required documentation in order to obtain permanent registration must be finalised. VCS will assist in the compilation of the required documentation. The certificate of Malta registry is subject to annual renewal by payment of the applicable tonnage tax.
Ships under construction
Maltese regulation provides for the registration of vessels that are being built or equipped. The requirements relating, inter alia, to survey and safety of ships already built and, to the declaration of ownership where the builders have not yet effected delivery to owners will be suspended until construction is completed or until delivery has been made. Vessels to be classed as trading ships are to be built under the supervision of a recognised organisation.
Manning and Certification of Seafarers
All vessels registered under the Maltese flag are subject to the provisions of the Act and any regulations enacted thereunder as well as the STCW 78 Convention (as amended) with respect to the manning and certification of seafarers. There are no restrictions imposed on the nationality of the master, officers and crew engaged on Maltese Ships.
A valid Minimum Safe Manning Certificate must be carried by all Maltese merchant ships of 500 gross tonnes and over. On the entry of a ship in the Malta register, the Authority will issue a Minimum Safe Manning Certificate valid for five years from the date of provisional registration.
Once the provisional registration of a vessel is finalised, the registration, transfer and discharge of mortgages may be affected immediately on presentation of the relative documents to the Registrar. Maltese law has kept abreast with the ever changing maritime industry with various legislative amendments over the years to ensure that the mortgage system is as efficient as the industry requires.