Malta the Jurisdiction of choice for Yacht Owners and Charterers

Malta the Jurisdiction of choice for Yachts

The Yachting Sector represents one of the main pillars of the Shipping economy in Malta.

The Yachting Sector represents one of the main pillars of the Shipping economy in Malta.

Malta has developed a strong legal and regulatory platform that enabled the Maltese Flag to become an established reputable International Ship Register which is now one of the largest in the world.

The Eight Cross Flag is one of the most recognizable in our seas and oceans ranking 1st in Europe and 6th worldwide in terms of registered tonnage.

Over the last decade efforts of Maltese Authorities have shifted towards the creation of a framework aimed at enhancing the Super-Yacht Industry and ultimately to replicate the positive results obtained within the merchant fleet. This was done by taking full advantage of Malta’s high reputation as an International Centre of Excellence and its wide range of international maritime services and facilities.

Malta has developed its natural harbours, investing heavily in state-of-the-art superyacht marinas and encouraging the creation of a number of onshore service-providers such as refitting yacht yards and yacht-management companies of the highest standard.

Commercial Yacht Registration in Malta

The Maltese flag offers a flexible option for those seeking an experienced and highly developed maritime environment for their yachting needs. Registering a commercial yacht in Malta may be very advantageous due to the favourable coding laws as well as the propitious financial and legal yachting regime.

Malta hosts a number of sophisticated marinas featuring advanced services that can ensure shore support to yacht, mending and restoration services and experienced professionals that cater to manning requirements and technical reinforcements as well as repairs. Registration of a commercial yachts is regulated by the Commercial Yacht Code, developed by the Merchant Shipping Directorate. A Commercial yacht is defined by the Code as a yacht:

  • Engaged in a lawful trade in the area of commercial operation for sport or pleasure purposes;
  • Of all types of yachts such as historical, training and racing yachts;
  • Having a minimum overall length of 15 metres; 
  • Which do not carry cargo or more than 12 passengers; and
  • Certified under the provisions of the Code.

Initial provisional yacht registration is a fairly simple procedure whereby, after the presentation of official documents, validity is given for six months. After the fulfilment of all requirements, including required safety and pollution checks, an operational certificate is issued. Yacht registration may be done by persons who are qualified to own a Maltese yacht, including Union, EEA or Swiss nationals residing in Malta or body corporates established in Malta or abroad. Nonetheless, for international body corporates and Union, EEA and Swiss citizens who are non-residents, Maltese law provides for the option of having a resident agent in Malta.

Malta’s long maritime history has enabled the islands’ experienced authorities to develop favourable conditions for owners of commercial yachts while ensuring high quality services are provided to support yacht owners with their specialised needs. The Maltese taxation system in relation to yachts is characterised by a tonnage tax regime for eligible vessels meaning that income resulting from the operation of yachts is exempt from taxation for qualifying yachts.

Pleasure Yacht Registration in Malta

Yacht owners who are Union, EEA or Swiss citizens or body corporates, established in Malta or abroad in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act, may register a pleasure yacht under the Maltese flag. The Merchant Shipping Directive defines a pleasure yacht to be of 6 metres in length and one not engaging in trade, but rather used for the private use of its owner.

Permanent registration must follow an initial 6 month period of provisional registration. In these six months, which may be extended to one year, the documentation necessary for permanent registration must be finalised. Once permanent registration is completed, an annual fee must be paid on the date of the initial registration.

KPMG Malta Yacht Registration Team

KPMG’s Yacht Registration Team provides advisory services to individuals and legal persons wishing to register pleasure or commercial yachts under the Malta Flag. KPMG’s Malta Yachting Team gained the trust of yacht owners’ who decided to register their pleasure and commercial yachts under the Malta Flag. Our Yachting Team assists yacht owners with the registration of pleasure yachts as soon as the yacht’s keel is laid by drafting and submitting documentation required by Maltese Authorities. KPMG’s Yachting Team is supported by its International Tax and VAT Team and is able to provide a tailor made service in order to ensure a smooth yacht registration process within tight deadlines.