Malta Shipping and Yacht Industry: Malta Flag to Become the Sixth largest in the World

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Throughout the years, Malta has established itself as a leading maritime centre offering a wide variety of services and facilities to the marine industry. This is partly due to its strategic and geographical location in the heart of Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. The Malta Flag continued to strengthen itself throughout 2014, achieving very positive results in terms of port State control performance, thus reinforcing the quality of its registered fleet and its strong commitment towards safe, secure and clean shipping. The Maltese shipping community is highly motivated to attract more young and innovative tonnage to the fleet.

At the end of December 2014, the registered gross tonnage under the Merchant Shipping Act was 57.9 million gross tons with over 2,500 merchant vessels fly the Maltese Flag. By end of 2014, the Authority had processed over 191,376 applications from officers serving or wanting to serve on Maltese ships, for the issue of endorsements attesting to the recognition of their certificate of competency issued by a foreign Administration. Of these, 16,639 were processed in the year under review. These statistics represent record figures for the Malta Flag and a significant achievement for the Malta Flag Administration.

The Malta Flag, whilst remaining the largest European Flag in terms of tonnage, combined with Malta’s reputation of an experienced, reliable and efficient maritime jurisdiction, has positioned the Malta Flag to become the sixth largest Flag in the world. Malta has maintained a good reputation in the maritime sector by promoting high standards both in terms of safety at sea and pollution prevention, whilst offering sterling service provided by the Maltese administration in this sector which operates within a versatile and well regulated maritime legal framework.

Besides being party to numerous international conventions and regulations for the uses of the Sea and continental shelf, Malta has also continued to consolidate its position on the Paris and Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding. Hence, ships flying the Malta Flag are less likely to be detained in ports for breach of international conventions.

Apart from the natural facilities available in view of the number of deep and protected harbours scattered across the island, the island has also continuously updated its level and quality of supporting services to continue developing the maritime industry in Malta. In fact, of the most notable investment on the island is the upgrading and development of marine facilities and infrastructure. These include the construction of the Malta Freeport, Malta Oil Tanking, the Malta Super Yacht Services facilities, various yacht marinas, the upgrading of the Malta Dry Docks, the development of a luxury cruise liner terminal together with the overall regeneration of the port areas.

Certain advantages of having a Maltese Flag include:


  • Exemption from Maltese income tax on the income that is derived from shipping activities of Maltese vessels of 1,000 net tons and over
  • Exemption from duty on documents on the sale or transfer of a Maltese vessel of 1,000 tons and over
  • Exemption from duty on documents on the allotment or transfer of shares in Maltese companies
  • Exemption from income tax, donation and succession duty, in respect of Maltese vessels under 1,000 net tons (subject to certain conditions)
  • Reasonable incorporation and registration costs
  • No trading restrictions imposed on Maltese registered vessels
  • No restrictions on the nationality of the master, officers and crew serving on Maltese vessels


The Yachting Industry in Malta has two main facets, namely pleasure yachts and commercial yachts, the latter used as part of a business activity and to which the fiscal advantages for Malta shipping organisations also apply. Taking the former into consideration, in addition to the brisk registration process, Malta offers a favourable regime for VAT minimisation.

In addition yacht marinas may be found all over the Maltese islands. These marinas include facilities for super yachts and most of them cater for requirements of yachtsmen, including fuel bunkering, technical services for repairs and services, luxury on-site facilities and immediate access to other off-site facilities.

Improved results were also recorded in the registration of superyachts.  Despite a challenging environment worldwide, the Malta flag registered an increase of 13.6% over the previous year, in the registration of superyachts of over 24 metres in length. As of the end of December 2014, the superyacht fleet flying the conspicuous Maltese cross worldwide was 452.