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The Technical Department besides providing technical advice to the Registrar-General is responsible for maritime safety, including the technical aspects of local and international legislation and also for Port State Control and Flag State Control in Maltese Ports. 

The Technical Department also oversees the running of the Malta Flag State Inspectorate which is charged with the task of carrying out inspections of Maltese registered ships in ports around the world. On the specific instructions of the Directorate, and in addition to the statutory surveys carried out by classification societies, a worldwide network of inspectors randomly inspect Malta ships in order to ensure that they remain in compliance with the relative international safety and social standards.

Port State Control

Malta is mindful that the principal responsibility for the effective application of international standards rests upon the authorities of the State whose flag a ship is entitled to fly, but yet also recognises the key role port States have in preventing the operation of substandard ships. A well developed port State control regime contributes substantially towards ensuring that ships are operated in a safe manner, provide a safe and healthy environment, and do not pose a pollution risk. This in turn can help bring about the eradication of sub-standard shipping.

Each nation has the sovereign right to exercise control over foreign flag ships operating within areas under its territorial jurisdiction. Port State control is codified in Articles 211, 220 and 226 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This right is also enshrined in a number of international maritime conventions adopted by the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation; these provide States with the powers to conduct port State control inspections of foreign ships visiting their ports.

Building upon the foundations of UNCLOS, Transport Malta, through its Merchant Shipping Directorate, has, together with other Mediterranean maritime Administrations and with the assistance of, inter alia, the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the European Commission strived towards the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding for the Mediterranean region that was eventually signed in Malta in 1997. Malta continued also its active participation in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on port State control where Transport Malta is a member since July 2006.

The Maltese Administration is committed to continue with the strengthening of its administrative and operational capacity and legal infrastructure to attain this goal and to commit the necessary funds to meet the responsibilities emanating therefrom.

Flag State Inspections

Flag State inspections of Maltese ships are carried out regularly by inspectors appointed by the Administration in different ports worldwide. The inspections are in addition to the regular statutory surveys conducted by the classification societies and are carried out only on the specific instructions of the Directorate. There are no additional charges for these inspections except when the vessel has to undergo a second or subsequent inspection to ascertain that reported deficiencies have been corrected and, when a ship is inspected prior to provisional registration.

Flag State Control

Monitoring of the technical performance of Maltese ships and marine casualty investigation are the responsibility of the Senior Manager (Technical) who reports to the Registrar-General Merchant Shipping. The Technical Department includes a complement of Safety Inspectorate Coordinators and Flag and Port State Control Inspectors, currently 20 in total and all based in Malta. Moreover, the Merchant Shipping Directorate operates an overseas network of over 64 inspectors in more than 45 different countries covering ports in at least 60 countries.

Maltese trading ships must be classed with a recognised classification society that may also be authorised to issue the statutory certificates required in terms of the MARPOL, SOLAS, Load Lines and Tonnage conventions. Authorisations are issued on a ship-by-ship basis. Change of class must also be authorised by the Merchant Shipping Directorate.

Trading ships of 20 years and over must successfully complete a pre-registration inspection conducted by a flag State control inspector appointed by the Merchant Shipping Directorate. Trading ships of 15 years and over must successfully complete a similar inspection within one month of provisional registration. A ship of a lower age may also be subjected to such inspection. These inspections are in addition to the normal change of flag surveys carried out by the classification society.

The Merchant Shipping Directorate operates a system, introduced in 1993, of conducting random inspections of Maltese ships worldwide using the services of its own global network of inspectors. These inspections are in addition to the regular statutory surveys carried out by the classification societies and are effected on the specific instructions of the Directorate. The results and the performance of the inspectors is closely monitored by the Technical Department. Since this activity is part of the monitoring process that is the responsibility of a flag State Administration, as a rule, inspections are conducted at the expense of Transport Malta.

Despite an increase in the requirements that trading ships must comply with and an increasingly efficient port State control ship inspection regime there has been a significant drop of the detention rate for Maltese ships within the Paris MOU from 17.29% in 1995 to 2.57% in December 2014. While this marked improvement is encouraging it is also a clear indication that there is no room for complacency.

Recruitment of Flag State Inspectors


The Merchant Shipping Directorate is actively seeking to expand its worldwide network of qualified Flag State Inspectors to carry out inspections on its behalf. Interested applicants should confirm their base operating port/city and the area to be covered.

Conflict of Interest

Applicants are to confirm whether they would be operating on behalf of a company or as a free-lance inspector. In either case, it is required that all inspectors confirm that there would be no conflict of interest should they be asked to act on behalf of the Directorate. This would include, amongst others, being employed by an IACS Classification Society or working for a management company operating Malta Flagged ships.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

It is important to note that all assigned inspectors have to be covered by a Professional Indemnity Insurance to the amount of 1 million Euro. In order to be considered, applicants must indicate that they are already in possession of such Insurance or have evidence that they will be able to obtain such Insurance.


Inspectors are required to have one of the following qualifications:

  • Master Mariner (unlimited) with 3 years sea experience
  • Chief Engineer (unlimited) with 3 years sea experience
  • Naval Architect with 5 years experience in the field
  • Marine related Degree with 5 years experience in the field

To this end applicants are required to send a full and updated CV accompanied with the relevant copies of the main qualifications for each inspector.


The proposal is to include the fee for the types of inspections listed hereunder for ports of coverage within your proposal. Fees are to include all traveling and communication costs. Flag State Inspections are expected to be conducted in a thorough and professional manner covering all the inspection report forms which will be forwarded upon expression of interest and therefore time allocation for the conduct of these inspections must be adequate to the required professional level. All inspections are to be invoiced to this Administration in accordance to the agreements reached with the prospective applicants and under no circumstances are the inspectors to demand any payment from the ship’s operators.

Type of inspections

Flag State Inspections for;

  • Passenger Ships less than 50,000GT,
  • Passenger Ships of 50,000GT and over,
  • All other types of ships

Pre-Registration Inspections for;

  • Passenger Ships less than 50,000GT,
  • Passenger Ships of 50,000GT and over,
  • All other types of ships

The Report

The handwritten compilation of the report during the inspection would suffice without any further analysis or re-writing. This would then be e-mailed immediately to the Administration. Additional photos are recommended especially where deficiencies are concerned in a regular Flag Inspection. In the case of a pre-registration inspection, a good number of photos of all areas of the ship including the internal ballast tanks are essential.

Professional Judgement & Conduct

Inspectors would be required to discharge their professional responsibilities with integrity and would at all times act and report in a fair and factual manner; they shall be independent of all parties.

Inspectors must ensure confidentiality of information required by the Administration and must be prepared to provide relevant information to the Administration. They shall carry out their work without breaching the intellectual property rights of shipyards, equipment suppliers and ship-owners and, under no circumstances may they pass on or divulge commercially relevant data obtained in the course of their work.

Authorised Recognised Organisations

A merchant vessel at the time it is being registered as a Maltese ship and during the period of its registration under the Malta flag must be classed with a classification society authorised to issue statutory certificates on behalf of the Government of Malta.

The list of these classification societies has been revised as follows:

  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
  • Bureau Veritas (BV)
  • China Classification Society (CCS)
  • Croatian Register of Shipping (CRS)
  • ClassNK (NK)
  • DNV
  • Indian Register of Shipping (IRS)
  • Korean Register of Shipping (KR)
  • Lloyd’s Register (LR)
  • Polish Register of Shipping (PRS)
  • Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)

Existing procedures requiring a ship by ship authorisation for a classification society listed above is to issue statutory certificates on behalf of the Government of Malta shall remain in effect.

List of Appointed Ship Surveyors

Useful files: