Is Yacht Registration In Malta Right For You?

Welcome to our website. The goal is simple here – to provide as much information as practically possible to help you understand whether Malta is a good jurisdiction for your specific needs to use for yacht registration.

Malta may not be the right location for you, but we hope to help you establish that yourself. If, on the other hand, Malta is a good jurisdiction in which to register your yacht, we hope that you will use the form on this page to contact us and let us find out whether we are a good fit to help you with your requirements.

As you will see from the layout of this site, we have multiple languages available to us. This means that should you wish to proceed with Maltese yacht registration, we can arrange for translators and interpreters to assist during the process.

Is Malta A Good Jurisdiction For Yachts?

Firstly, any citizen of an EU member state1 has the right to register a yacht here. Additionally, any company registered in an EU member state can also register a yacht here.

yachts in Malta

For hopefully obvious reasons, a Maltese company is considered to be a good choice as the ownership vehicle for yachts. A Maltese company can be established by any person (whether a Maltese or EU national or not) for the purpose of yacht ownership. Therefore, with a little effort and the correct advice, it is possible for a person of any nationality to use Malta for yacht registration and ownership.

The one caveat is that the owner of the vessel must be clearly identifiable. For non-Maltese owners, the authorities require certified copies of official identification documents. Non-Maltese owners are required to appoint, in writing, a Maltese resident whose job is to liase with any relevant authorities.

In fact, there are few limitations once ownership is established. For example:
There are no ownership restrictions regarding the nationality of the owner(s)
There are no restrictions relating to the nationality of person(s) manning the vessel
There are no restrictions while sailing to any ports worldwide

The Maltese maritime flag2 is the largest European flag for both ship and yacht ownership3. This popularity has been built through a long standing reputation for quality and efficiency and a number of fiscal benefits which will be explained below.

The main features can be described as:
EU compliant legislation
Clear laws relating to yacht mortgages
Low registration costs
A fast registration system
A globally recognised and respected jurisdiction

Financiers tend to find comfort in the Maltese rules, in that they are protected, as are the owners themselves. The mortgage system is clear and administered consistently.

Bareboat Charter Registrations
The law provides for bareboat charter registration of Maltese vessels under both the Malta flag foreign flags.

The main principles adopted are, the compatibility of the two registries and, that matters regarding title over the vessel, mortgages and encumbrances are governed by the underlying registry, while the operation of the vessel falls under jurisdiction of the bareboat charter registry.

Bareboat charter registrations are to last either for the duration of the bareboat charter or until the expiry date of the underlying registration, whichever is the shorter. In either case, not for a period that exceeds two years.

Yacht Registration Procedures In Malta

As one of the largest flags in the world, the procedure for yacht registration Malta is well designed and used. If all the correct documentation is available at registration, the process will usually take just two working days.

Superyacht in the Grand Harbour Valletta

A provisional registration that lasts up to six months is possible to enable the full documentation (such as a deletion certificate from the previous register) to be completed. After which, a permanent registration is in place with the Maltese Registrar of Ships4.

To make your provisional application, the following documents will be needed:
a declaration of ownership
an application to register a yacht in Malta
a copy of the international tonnage certificate – for vessels over 24 metres in length
technical details if required or requested
an application for a radio licence

yacht registration Malta

Once the entire process has been completed successfully, a Certificate of Malta Registry5 will be issued – this also acts as proof of title to the vessel.

What About Larger Yachts?
There is a class of vessel that sits between normal yachts that may be used by a family and super yachts at the top end of the scale. These vessels are designed to take more than twelve people for charter.

They are clearly not ships or cruise liners as they are simply not large enough. They are, however, too large to be classed as a yacht as well. For this reason, the name Passenger Yachts is commonly used.

Under the SOLAS Convention6 they are considered to be passenger ships.

The registration process is almost identical to the one described above. What is important is that there is a coordinated effort between the yacht managers, flag state officials and the appointed Class representatives.

What Are The Financial Benefits To Malta Yacht Registration?
Companies operating commercial yachts are exempt from
income tax on any income generated by the operation of their yachts. The exemption will apply provided an annual tonnage tax, based on the gross tonnage of the commercial yacht, and the annual registration fee are duly paid.

Additionally, commercial yachts operating on the high seas
and carrying paying passengers (lessee is using the yacht for an economic activity) are exempt from VAT on any supplies, including maintenance costs, to the yacht, and no VAT is chargeable on revenue from chartering operations.

Where a commercial yacht does not qualify for the exemption
from income tax, they may take advantage of the low effective income tax rate of 5%. Any foreign income tax suffered on such a yacht’s commercial operations would be available as a credit against the Maltese income tax so that the effective Maltese tax could even be reduced to 0%.

To Conclude
Hopefully these details prove that Malta offers a very good jurisdiction for your yacht registration and more generally as a flag nation. If you have any questions about the process, or would like to investigate the specific circumstances of your own yacht, please contact me for a confidential discussion.

About The Author
Mark Bencini is a lawyer and partner with Valletta Legal in Valletta, Malta. He has many years of experience in corporate law in Malta.

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