Malta Yacht, Ship & Aircraft Registration

Malta Yacht, Ship & Aircraft Registration

Malta may be a small country but what it lacks in sq/km, it makes up for in terms of its maritime reputation. It’s shipping register is the largest in Europe and offers an efficient registration procedure, flexible fiscal solutions, for anyone looking to register a yacht or ship in Malta.

Malta is party to a number of well-known international maritime based conventions. These include the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, the Prevention of Pollution for Ships Convention, Maritime Labour Convention, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which Malta was actually a part of launching in 1967.

In terms of local legislation and guidelines, there are several laws which control different aspects of the maritime sector including the Merchant Shipping Act and the Companies Act. We offer clients a comprehensive maritime service. From ship management and flag registration, to advice pertaining to finance, tax, and leasing.

Some of the main advantages of having vessels / yachts registered under the Maltese Flag are the following:

  • Twenty four hour, seven days a week service in respect of urgent matters
  • No trading restrictions and preferential treatment to Maltese ships in certain ports
  • No restrictions on the nationality of the master, officers and crew
  • Low company formation and ship registration cost; progressive reduction in registration and tonnage tax costs for younger aged ships.
  • Ships may be registered in the name of legally constituted corporate bodies or entities irrespective of nationality, or by European Union citizens.
  • No restriction on the sale or transfer of shares of a company owning Maltese ships
  • No restrictions on the sale and mortgaging of Maltese ships
  • Malta is listed in the “White Flag” of the Paris MoU & Tokyo MoU
  • Malta is an international maritime centre providing the whole range of maritime services.

Ships Registration Procedure

Initially the vessel or yacht may be provisionally registered, pending the completion of all the formalities required for a permanent registration.

The provisional registration is valid for six months and may be extended for further short periods at the discretion of Transport Malta in limited cases. Provisional registration mainly involves the filing on the relevant application form together with a declaration of ownership and the production of an International Tonnage Certificate (if the vessel is over 24 m).

Yachts Registration Procedure


A yacht may be registered under the Malta flag as:

  1. a Private yacht: 6 metres in length or more, which does not carry passengers for reward and is not engaged in trade but is used for the sole purpose of the owner;
  2. a Commercial yacht: 15 metres in length or more but not more than 3000 gross tonnes, which does not carry cargo, carries not more than 12 passengers and is operated by the owner or body corporate owning the yacht for commercial use.

All yachts registered in the commercial register have to be in line with the Maltese Commercial Yacht Code.  The Commercial Yacht Code was launched by Transport Malta and was developed in line with international regulations and other industry standards and caters for both small yachts and superyachts above 24 metres and up to 3000 GT.

Yacht Ownership

A yacht may be registered under the Malta Flag  by a Maltese Company / Maltese Individual or can also be owned and registered in the ownership of a Company registered in another jurisdiction. In this scenario the law requires the owner to appoint a resident agent in Malta to represent the international owner. We are recognized by Transport Malta to act as resident agents to international owners.

Yacht Leasing Scheme

Maltese VAT legislation contains special rules based on the EU VAT Directive dealing with finance leasing of yachts. These rules are attractive for yacht owners who use Malta as a base for the importation or purchase/acquisition of a new yacht into or within the EU. Finance leasing is a contract which provides for the lease of a yacht by the lessor to the lessee in return for a fee and also provides for an option by the lessee to purchase the yacht at the end of the lease period at a price which is calculated as a percentage of the value of the vessel.

A yacht under a finance leasing transaction is treated as used partly in EU waters (including Maltese waters) and partly outside EU waters and consequently, only the portion of lease payments that is attributable to the use of the yacht in EU waters is subject to Maltese (EU) VAT. In view of the difficulty in calculating the exact time spent in EU and non-EU waters, the rules provide for a simplified deemed percentage of the lease that is attributable to the use of the yacht in EU waters. These percentages are based on the length of the yacht and propulsion method – the lease payments are subject to the standard Maltese VAT rate of 18% but the VAT is charged on a percentage of the lease payment according to the table below

yacht shipping and aircraft reg

Aviation in Malta

The Maltese economy has a thriving aviation sector, as a result of long-term policies that have attracted substantial investment in the aircraft operation, maintenance and asset finance areas. Sector driven initiatives together with Malta’s generally favorable corporate and tax policies have underlined this success.

Malta is one of the first EU Member States to have ratified the Cape Town Convention and its Aircraft Protocol, and has a modern aircraft registration and asset finance infrastructure.

Aircraft Operation

Our professionals will provide general assistance with document preparation, and representation before the competent authorities throughout the process which leads to AOC and AOL conferment. There are various phases, the most important being the first, pre-application phase. The other phases include the formal application, document evaluation, inspection/demonstration phases, leading to certification.

The Pre-application phase is characterized by significant dialogue with the civil aviation directorate (CAD) regarding the applicant and the operation proposed. A POPS form (pre-assessment statement) is filled in at this stage, to establish intent to pursue the process.

In parallel, an assessment on the financial, economic and legal status of the applicant and operation is conducted (also leading to the issuance of an Air Operator License). Other factors include organizational and route structure, aircraft appropriate to the proposed operation, service levels, etc.

Aircraft Registration

Our legal and other professionals assist in establishing appropriate structures for aircraft ownership and/or leasing purposes, which can take the form of corporations, foundations or trust relationships.

Registration of aircraft in Malta is a straight-forward procedure, also characterized by continuing dialogue with the CAD, and involving preparation and submission of all necessary documentation.