Malta Ship Registry


  • Malta’s Ship Register is currently the 1st largest registry in Europe and the 7th largest in the world with over 50 million tonnes and 1150 vessels registered
  • European Union Register – Vessels fly the Malta flag and have access to cabotage within the European Union
  • Safe, credible, quality Register, listed on the White List of Paris MoU on Port State Control
  • Applicability of all IMO conventions and EU Directives. Malta is also signatory to most international conventions
  • Vessels may be registered in the name of legally constituted corporate bodies or entities irrespective of nationality, or by European Union citizens
  • No restriction as to nationality of captain, officers and crew members
  • Highly competitive registration and maintenance fees and “tonnage fee/tax” with discounts for new vessels and surcharge for vessels over 15 years old
  • Registration on a 24/7 basis by the Malta Maritime Authority (MMA)
  • Ship owners, operators and creditors benefit from attractive tax incentives
  • Various types of vessels can be registered from super yachts to vessels still under construction
  • Additional services offered in Malta: bunkering, ship supplies, towage services. Ship building, repair yards, modern facilities for transhipment, cruise liner hub, international yacht marinas, a very successful Freeport and oil terminal, high level training for officers and a renown nautical school.


  • Favourable tax regime
  • Low company formation and registration costs
  • Confidentiality of the Beneficial Owner
  • No restriction or taxation on the sale or transfer of shares of a company owning a Maltese Ship
  • No restriction or taxation on the sale or mortgaging of a Maltese registered vessel
  • No trading restrictions and preferential treatment to Maltese ships in certain ports
  • No hidden costs and no inspection fees
  • As of 2006, the Maltese Commercial Yacht Code extends to commercial yachts the same benefits which are applicable to trading ships in Malta
  • For commercial yachts, their value is exempt from VAT and goods purchased to supply them are deductible
  • VAT exemption on short-term chartering of commercial yachts
  • Import of a commercial yacht into the EU via Malta is duty free


A vessel may be registered under the Maltese flag via two methods:

  • By appointing a Maltese registered agent; or
  • By incorporating a Maltese company and registering the vessel in its name.


A vessel is first registered provisionally under the Maltese flag for six months (extendible for a further period or periods not exceeding in aggregate six months) during which all documentation will need to be furnished to the Registrar.

The general requirements for provisional registration are:

  • Application for registration by the owner or an authorized representative (POA must be presented) including if required, application for change in name
  • Proof of qualification to use a Maltese ship, and in the case of a body corporate, the certificate of incorporation
  • In the case of non-Maltese owners, appointment of a resident agent
  • Where applicable, copy of the current ship’s International Tonnage Certificate
  • Declaration of ownership made in front of the Registrar by the owner or by the authorized representative
  • Evidence of seaworthiness; in case of trading ships, confirmation of class with a recognized organization, and information of the ship’s statutory certification, including Company ISM compliance
  • Where applicable, request for the Administration to authorize the appropriate recognized classification society to issue the ship’s and the Company statutory certificates
  • Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) – Part 1
  • Minimum Safe Manning Certificate
  • Payment of initial registration fees and annual tonnage tax
  • Application for Ship Radio Station License


The requirements for permanent registration:

  • Where there was a previous owner, a bill of sale or any other document by which the vessel was transferred to the current applicant, otherwise a builder’s certificate in the name of the applicant
  • Where applicable, cancellation of registry certificate issued by the administration where the vessel was last documented
  • In the case of SOLAS ships, copy of the last updated Continuous Synopsis Record issued by the administration where the ship was last documented
  • Certificate of Survey and a copy of the International Tonnage Certificate issued by an approved surveyor of ships
  • Evidence that the vessel has been marked in accordance to the law

If not all valid conventional certificates are available and presented to the Registrar, the yacht will be issued with a non-operational certificate of registry. A certificate issued by the Maltese registry is subject to annual renewal on the anniversary of 1st registration.


Maltese law provides for bareboat charter registration of foreign ships under the Maltese Flag and also for the bareboat charter registration of Maltese ships under a foreign flag. The main principles adopted at law are the compatibility of the two registries and that matters regarding the title over the ship, mortgages and encumbrances are covered by the underlying registry, while operation of the vessel falls under the jurisdiction of the bareboat registry. Within these parameters, ships bareboat charter registered in Malta enjoy the same rights and privileges and have the same obligations as any other ship registered in Malta. A bareboat charter registration shall be for the duration of the bareboat charter or until the expiry date of the underlying registration, whichever is the shortest, but in no case for a period exceeding two years, and may then be extended.


Vessels in the process of being built or equipped may be registered under the Maltese Flag as long as they satisfy same requirements relating to survey and safety of ships already built. The declaration of ownership is also required but will be suspended where the builders have not yet affected delivery to owners until construction is completed or until delivery is made. Vessels to be classed as trading ships must be built under the supervision of a recognised organisation.


Registration, transfer, amendment and discharge of mortgages may be effected immediately in presentation of the relevant documents to the Registrar.


Malta has adopted all the major international maritime conventions. For a ship to operate under the Maltese flag it must carry at all times valid statutory certificates (survey, tonnage and convention certificates) issued on behalf of the Malta government by a recognized organization.

The following is a list if recognized organizations:

American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, China Classification Society, ClassNK, DNV-GL, Korean Register of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Polish Register of Shipping, Registro Italiano Navale abd Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.