Malta – a Flag of Excellence

A yacht is a significant investment consisting of time, effort and money: choosing the yacht flag is one of the most important decisions and one that can impact owners and their vessel in a number of ways. Seeking professional advice before making a decision will help to ensure that the choice of flag does not restrict operational plans, affect tax and VAT planning or change crew manning requirements.

Once in the water, a yacht’s flag can impact the way in which it is received by its chosen cruising areas. Choosing a politically neutral, well-recognised and accepted flag is therefore recommended.

There are a number of flags with good reputations and that are on the white list of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control – the reputation of the Malta flag is held highly in the superyacht industry and it is reflected by its position on the Paris MoU’s White List.

Located in the centre of the Mediterranean’s crystal blue waters, Malta has always retained a strong heritage in maritime, from its traditional fishing industry to its historic use as a transhipment hub in the Mediterranean. Over the last decade, efforts of Maltese Authorities have shifted towards the creation of a framework aimed at enhancing the Superyacht industry. This was done by taking full advantage of Malta’s high reputation as an International Centre of Excellence and its wide range of international maritime services and facilities.

A well-established, respected and regulated jurisdiction, Malta now hosts the largest and one of the fastest growing ship registers in Europe, and is considered a major logistics provider in the Mediterranean. The Malta Ship Registry provides a high quality and fast response customer service with a low cost scale of charges on yacht registration.

In addition, Malta offers a number of attractive advantages to owners and charterers of Malta registered vessels, such as:

  • flag state inspectorate to ensure adherence to international standards;
  • twenty four hours, seven days a week service in respect of urgent matters;
  • an international maritime centre providing the whole range of maritime services;
  • no restrictions on the sale of Maltese registered yachts;
  • no trading restrictions and preferential treatment to Maltese ships in certain ports;
  • no restrictions on the nationality of masters, officers and crew carried on board Maltese vessels.

Additionally, as long as all flag requirements are met, any type of vessel can be registered – that means pleasure yachts, oil rigs, vessels under construction, and anything in between.

When it comes to taxes, the Island has a highly beneficial tax regime with:

  • an extensive network of double taxation treaties;
  • low costs for the incorporation and operation of a company including vessel registration fees and tonnage taxes;
  • onshore regulatory regime for EU tax purposes;
  • no capital gains taxes;
  • exemption from payment or the reclaim of VAT on the value of the yacht, provided that such yacht is used for commercial purposes (chartering) on the high seas subject to restrictions.

If interested in discussing the considerable benefits of using Malta for the purpose of yacht registration and ownership, please contact Alex Beetham at or call on +356 2065 0500.

Alex will also be at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show – please contact him to arrange a meeting on or around the Show.