Sailing together through Uncharted Waters

Sailing together through Uncharted Waters

Transport Malta adopts COVID measures in aid of Shipping Industry.


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The KPMG Malta Shipping Team is closely following the everchanging scenario and consequences that COVID-19 is having on ship owners, ship managers, surveyors, classification societies and of course the most affected category, seafarers.

The Malta flag being the 6th Flag in the world and 1st in Europe in terms of tonnage with over 8,000 ships and 800 yachts and super-yachts has been significantly affected by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government of Malta and Transport Malta has adopted measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the shipping industry.

We know that your operations go beyond Maltese borders with ramifications in those jurisdictions frequented by ships, crew members and jurisdictions where your clients are based. Our local and worldwide network of professionals will be able to assist you and explain measures adopted across Europe to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on your operations. By liaising with us, we are in a position to connect you with the rest of the world.

Below is an outline of the measures introduced by the Maltese Government in the last few days. We don’t exclude these being supported by other initiatives as the situation evolves.

This is not time for alarmism. This is the time to be level-headed and sensible. This is the time to focus on the present and plan the course of action for the coming weeks. We will be pleased to sail together with you through these unchartered waters.

Extenision on Payment of Registration Fee and Annual Tonnage Tax

Transport Malta decided to defer the due payment date of the relevant Registration Fees and the Annual Tonnage Tax of merchant ships (Merchant Shipping Act – First Schedule), of which the anniversary date falls on or after 1 April 2020, by a period of three months from the anniversary.

To this effect, requests to issue renewal Certificates of Registry are still to be made to the Registrar as provided in article 19(4) of the Merchant Shipping Act, accompanied by a request for the deferral of payment of the relevant registration fees and annual tonnage tax, where applicable.

Extension of Sea Service beyond the Seafarer Employment Agreement Period

Shipowners, Managers and Operators encountering difficulties in repatriating seafarers following the expiration of the term established in the Seafarer’s Employment Agreement in terms of the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Rules, may, on a case-by-case basis request to extend the validity of the Agreement for a maximum period of three months, which period may be extended for further periods upon application, should the situation remain the same. Arrangements for repatriation should be made at the earliest opportunity.

Shipowners, Managers and Operators who require such an extension are to submit details of the seafarer/s including the details of the current agreement periods to our dedicated KPMG contacts.

Any extended period would require an addendum to the Seafarer Employment Agreement under the same terms and conditions as the underlying agreement.

Extension of the validity of Seafarer Certificates beyond their Expiry Date

Seafarers, in possession of a Certificate of Competency (CoC) issued by an Administration other than Malta and who are in possession of a Flag State Endorsement issued under the Merchant Shipping Act and in terms of the STCW Convention, which may expire during an extended period on board, may extend the validity of their Flag State Endorsement. We will be pleased to assist in this respect. 

The request is to include the details of the seafarer, the endorsement number and a copy of a valid (or extension of validity) Certificate of Competency by the issuing Administration of the CoC. The Flag State Endorsement may only be extended up to the date of the extended validity of the CoC.

Holders of Maltese CoCs who have certificates that will expire during an extended period on board or encounter any difficulties in refreshing their underlying certificates are to contact as soon as possible for assistance.

Extension of Statutory Certificates, Surveys, Audits and Inspections

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, attendance of statutory surveys has become increasingly difficult. Furthermore, several shipyards cannot accommodate ships, for both booked and planned supervisions requiring dry docking.

In view of these exceptional circumstances, in cases where surveyors, auditors and/or inspectors are not able to undertake scheduled surveys, audit and inspections due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19, this Directorate will consider requests for extension/postponement under force majeure or unforeseen exceptional circumstances, on a case by case basis.

For statutory surveys delegated to Recognised Organisations, the respective recognised organisation shall make an application to the Merchant Shipping Directorate on the owner’s behalf, including all supporting information.

Any extended period would require an addendum to the Seafarer Employment Agreement under the same terms and conditions as the underlying agreement.

Should you have any queries or wish to discuss further, please send an email to

Sailing together through Unchartered Waters

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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