Registration of Ships in Malta
Registration of ships in Malta is a fairly straight forward procedure. When registering their owned or bare boat chartered tonnage in Malta, ship owners may opt, either to incorporate a Maltese Shipping Organisation, which is exempt from income tax in Malta, alternatively ship owners may wish to register a ship under the Malta flag in the name a foreign corporate body. A foreign corporate body (hereinafter sometimes referred to as ‘international owner’) is an entity enjoying legal personality in terms of the law under which it has been established or constituted and which has established a place of business in Malta. As such, there are no limitations or restrictions as to who may own a Malta flagged ship.

1.1 Maltese Shipping Company

The following is a list of documents required for the incorporation a Maltese Shipping Organisation for the purposes of owning or bare-boat chartering a Malta flagged ship;
  1.  Proposed name of company enabling our offices to reserve name in your favour;
  2. Name /s of proposed shareholder (if single member) / shareholders, together with certified true copies of the Memorandum and Articles of the corporate shareholders and a recently dated Good Standing Certificate. If individual shareholders, then we require copy of the passport photo page; 
  3. Name /s of proposed director/s. Sole Director is acceptable. In the case of Individual we require copy of the passport photo page or other official identification document;
  4. A Power of Attorney, empowering us to subscribe to the shares of the company, to be completed and signed by the shareholders in the presence of an advocate. 
A Maltese Holding Company may be used to consolidate the shareholding in separate shipping organisations which are beneficially owned by the same beneficial owners.The transfer of dividends to the Holding Company will not be charged to tax. Malta has also entered into a substantial number of Double Taxation Treaties for the avoidance of Double Taxation, which bi-lateral treaties are modelled on the OECD’s Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital.

1.2 Foreign Body Corporate – (International owner)

A foreign corporate body may own a Maltese Flagged vessel and the following documents are required to be filed with Registrar of Shipping:-
  1. Original Memorandum & Articles of body corporate (certified true copies attached to legal opinion on contents of Memorandum & Articles may be accepted); 
  2. Good standing certificate;
  3. Legal opinion, duly notarised and apostilled, confirming that corporate records of foreign legal entity have been examined and giving details of the directors and holders of office and of persons authorised to represent the legal entity and bind it with their signature and to appoint resident agent; 
  4. Powers of Attorney when and if any are required duly notarised and legalised; 
  5. Original declaration of appointment of Resident Agent, duly notarised and apostilled 
An International Owner is not treated as a tax resident in Malta, and is neither resident nor domiciled in Malta in terms of the Income Tax Act, provided it has not established a branch or place of business in Malta. Nevertheless, the applicable regulations provide that an international owner in whose name a ship is, or has been registered under the Act, or in whose name a certificate of registry, provisional or otherwise, has been issued, shall be deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Maltese Courts for any action in connection with the ship while it is or was so registered. The International Owner is obligated to appoint a Resident Agent, being a person habitually resident in Malta satisfying the Registrar-General to be a person capable of carrying out the functions of resident agent as set out in the Regulations.

1.3 Vessel Registration

To register the vessel under the Malta Flag we require the following:-
  • Application for the Registration of a Ship under the (Malta) Merchant Shipping Act, 1973. 
  • Application for Minimum Safe Manning 
  • We will need to know who will be attending to the audit for SMC & ISSC.
To obtain the new GMDSS permanent ship radio station license we require the following:-
  • PSA should contact Registrar direct giving details of the INMARSAT apparatus on board the vessel – MAKE/TYPE/SERIAL NUMBER;
  • A duly completed application form, marked and stamped; A copy of a valid cargo ship safety radio certificate with the relevant Form-R.If the vessel in question is a passenger ship, a copy of a valid passenger ship safety certificate with relevant Form-P is required to be issued on behalf of Malta government; 
  • EPIRB test report / datasheet;
  • Shore-Based Maintenance Agreement Certificate;
  • LRIT conformance test report. A recent inspection / survey report issued by a recognised Classification Society may also be accepted in lieu of a copy of a valid cargo ship safety radio. 
We also require copies of the following documents:
  • International Tonnage Certificate 
  • Copy of the valid DOC of the managers of the vessel issued on behalf of the Malta Government pursuant to the ISM Code
Name and contact details of designated person ashore (DPA) including his after office telephone number and mobile number AOH For permanent registration of the vessel, we will require, for filing with Registrar of Maltese Ships, the Builders’ Certificate and/or Original Bill of Sale as the case may be, and the Original Deletion Certificate – within 30 days of vessel’s registration, extendable to six months. 

1.4 Bareboat Charter Registration

Apart from the requirements for provisional registration of a vessel as indicated above, the following particular requirements are also to be satisfied for provisional bareboat charter registration of a vessel:-
  1. Compatibility of Underlying Registry 
  2. Transcript of Registry from Underlying Registry 
  3. Consent of Underlying Registry 
  4. Consent of Owners
  5. Mortgagees’ consent (where applicable)
  6. Copy of Bareboat Charter Party Agreement (strictly confidential and not available for public inspection) 
The Bareboat Charter Registration of a Malta flagged vessel in a foreign Registry is possible upon obtaining the consent of the Registrar of Maltese Ships to that effect. Registrar will invariably consent to such registration provided the following requirements are duly attended to, namely: -
  1. Compatibility of foreign Registry (where applicable)
  2. Consent of registered owners 
  3. Application to Registrar asking for permission to bareboat charter out the vessel to a foreign Registry.
  4.  Undertaking by owners to surrender the Certificate of Malta Registry to the Registrar within 15 days from the entry of the vessel in the foreign Registry; 
  5. Undertaking by bareboat charterers in favour of Registrar of Maltese Ships undertaking that the particular vessel will not hoist the Malta flag for the duration of the bareboat charter registration of the vessel in the foreign registry. 
  6. Mortgagees’ consent (where applicable); and
  7.  Copy of the Bareboat Charter Agreement (strictly confidential and not available for public inspection)
Cedric Mifsud graduated as lawyer from the University of Malta in 2003 and was subsequently admitted to the bar in Malta. He later specialised in European Law particularly focus on Competition law. Upon qualifying he joined a leading firm in Malta as a litigation lawyer. In 2007 together with his brother, Malcolm, he co-founded Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates. Cedric set up the Corporate and Commercial Department of the firm making the firm one of the leading business law firms in Malta. Part of the Corporate and Commercial Department includes the Maritime Practice which has a considerable portfolio of Superyachts and Commercial Vessels.
François qualified as an Avocat (French lawyer) in 2016 and created the French Desk at Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates. He is now registered at the Bars of Paris and Malta. He is also presently a Marine Consultant, a listed Marine Surveyor at the Rouen Appeal’s Court, a Maritime Arbitrator at the ‘Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris’, a Member of the Malta Arbitration Centre, and a member of the Malta Maritime Law Association.
Charlene obtained her Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 2016 and is currently reading for Master of Advocacy at the University of Malta. She joined Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates as a legal trainee in 2015 and is mainly responsible for vetting contracts, shipping registration, legal research and drafting, and other general corporate duties.
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