Ship registration and the provision of all ancillary services is the responsibility of the Merchant Shipping, a body set up by an act of Parliament within the aegis of the Ministry responsible for maritime affairs.
Besides providing ship and yacht registration services, the Merchant Shipping is also responsible for the regulation, control and administration of all matters related to merchant shipping, the certification of seafarers, the fostering of Maltas relations in international shipping fora, and the administration and implementation of international maritime conventions and agreements.
It has experienced significant and constant growth since inception and has now established itself amongst the largest registries in the world in terms of tonnage. The Merchant Shipping is now, more than ever, giving increasing and fundamental importance to safety of life at sea and the prevention of pollution from ships as well as compliance with international maritime conventions.
The Directorate is headed by the Chief Officer responsible for Merchant Shipping who in terms of law is also the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen.
The Flag of Confidence
Passed by Parliament in 1973, the Merchant Shipping Act today contains nearly 400 sections, and is divided in 10 parts. Numerous legal notices have been promulgated under the Act containing subsidiary legislation that deals with the various merchant shipping-related subjects. The Act and legal notices form together a comprehensive body of legislation that is at times both technical and also complex.
Foremost amongst the legal themes concerning the Maltese merchant fleet that are dealt with in the Act is the registration of ships in Malta. Maltese ships registered in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act are entitled to fly the Maltese Flag and entitled to enjoy the advantages presented under the Act, including international recognition and protection. The Malta Flag formally came into existence in 1973, upon the promulgation of the Act this has been, for Malta, a success story. The Act, in fact, was the firs t legislative step taken towards placing the Malta Flag on the world map. The Maltese merchant fleet is today the largest in Europe.
Within the Mediterranean, maritime navigation, trade and commerce have flourished under the influence of widely accepted and respected rules of maritime law, at times codified as the Consolato del Mare. Maltas maritime role has ensured that the study and practice of maritime law has flourished amongst the islands legal profession.
Indeed, it is this legal tradition which contribution to the formulation of the Maltese initiative at the 1967 United Nations General Assembly that culminated in the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Vessel registration under the Malta flag and the operation of the Maltese ships is regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act, a law based in the main on United Kingdom legislation, subsequently revised and amended in 1986, 1988, 1990 and 2000. These amendments introduced important measures for control, added safeguards for the financiers, thus making financing more attractive, and a bareboat charter registration.
Malta is a party to most of the major IMO and ILO International Maritime Conventions and Malta flagships are obliged to strictly adhere to the provisions of these international conventions.
Utilising its solid infrastructure, the Merchant Shipping Directorate, through its people, who are its strength, aims at a continuous process of improvement at the same time consolidating and sustaining development, seeking ways to further improve its position as a leading maritime administration that delivers services of the highest quality of service, in line with its responsibilities within a national, European and international scenario.
In accomplishing this mission, the Directorate, will continue to be customer focused, enforce rigorous standards and maintain steadfast commitment to safety and environmental protection.
To be a world class organization that is committed to preventing loss of life, continuously improving maritime safety, protecting the marine environment and maintaining a position of strength and leadership in the field by means of growth through quality.
We will provide services of the highest quality and value with a direct focus on meeting the needs of our customers. We will respond to the customer with promptness, sensitivity, respect and always with integrity.