Registration Process

A Quick and Efficient Operation

All types of vessels, from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, including vessels under construction, may be registered, provided that, inter alia, they are wholly owned by legally constituted corporate bodies or entities irrespective of nationality, or by European Union citizens; a Maltese ship may also be bareboat charter registered under another flag.

There are neither trading restrictions nor age restrictions. However:

  • Ships of 10 years and over, but under 15 years, must pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector before or within a month of provisional registration; and
  • Ships of 15 years and over are required to pass an inspection by an authorised flag state inspector prior to being provisionally registered. As a rule trading ships of 25 years and over are not registered.

The procedure for the registration of a vessel is relatively straightforward. Provisional registration, which in terms of the law has the same effect as the so-called permanent registration, can be effected very quickly.

A vessel is first registered provisionally under the Malta flag for six months (extendible for a further period, or periods not exceeding in the aggregate six months) during which period all documentation needs to be finalised. This includes, in particular, evidence of ownership and of cancellation of former registry. Authority to operate still remains linked to conformity with the relative manning, safety and pollution prevention international standards.

Requirements for provisional registration:

  • An application for registration by the owner or an authorised representative including, if required, an application for change of name of ship;
  • Proof of qualification to own a Maltese ship; in the case of a body corporate, the memorandum and articles of association;
  • In the case of non-resident owners, appointment of a resident agent;
  • A copy of the ship’s International Tonnage Certificate, where applicable;
  • A declaration of ownership made in front of the Registrar by the owner or an authorised representative;
  • Evidence of seaworthiness; in the case of trading ships, confirmation of class, with a recognised organisation, and information of the ship statutory certification including company ISM compliance;
  • Where applicable, request for the Administration to authorise the appropriate recognised classification society to issue the ship’s certification;
  • Where applicable, application for Minimum Safe Manning Certificate;
  • Application for Ship Radio Station Licence;
  • Payment of initial registration fees and annual tonnage tax.

Documents to be submitted during provisional registration:

A builder’s certificate, if the vessel has not been registered elsewhere; otherwise a bill of sale or any other document for registry;
A cancellation of registry certificate from the last country of registry, showing vessel to be free from encumbrances or otherwise;
In the cases of SOLAS ships, copy of the last updated Continuous Synopsis Record issued by the Administration where the ship was last documented;
Certificate of Survey and a copy of the international Tonnage Certificate issued by an approved surveyor of ships;
Evidence that the vessel has been marked in accordance with law.

Useful Files:

A Guide To Ship Registration

List of Appointed Ship Surveyors