Small Islands, Big Registries: Why are the Isle of Man and Malta still high flyers?

The Isle of Man aircraft register was the first private aircraft registry in Europe, which since its inception on 1 May 2007, has registered nearly 700 aircraft and focuses on the high quality end of the privately owned business jet aircraft industry.
It is no surprise that the registry has been such a success; with high regulatory standards, a sound international reputation, competitive scheme of charges, politically neutral “M” registration prefix and customer focused service, it offers a number of benefits to any aircraft owner registering their asset there.

Even though the Island is considered ‘offshore’ and regulates its own affairs separate from that of the UK or EU, it is still considered part of the EU for VAT and customs duty purposes. This affords owners registering their aircraft in the Isle of Man the unique benefit of holding their aircraft through an offshore single purpose vehicle, trust or partnership, as well as affording them the ability to import the aircraft into the EU for VAT purposes, allowing for free circulation within the EU.

The Isle of Man is therefore an attractive and effective proposition, which offers the private aircraft industry an offshore ‘one stop shop’ for aircraft registration, ownership structuring and VAT importation services; attributes which other offshore aircraft registries do not possess.

Another attractive proposition is Malta. A member of the EU with an extensive double tax treaty network, Malta is considered an ‘onshore’ jurisdiction but with ‘offshore’ benefits.

It offers aircraft registration through its Aircraft Registration Act 2010 and caters to both the private and commercial aircraft markets. The register also permits fractional ownership, registration of aircraft whilst under construction and engine registration, giving aircraft owners/part owners the flexibility in how they utilise their aircraft be it for commercial or private use, or a mixture of both.

As a member of the EU it can also be used as a strategic VAT import jurisdiction for aircraft in the Southern Mediterranean region and has recently implemented a beneficial VAT simplification process for private aircraft. Some in the industry believe that the Malta registry, through its inherent flexibility with regards to aircraft use, is very much a registry to keep on your radar. In the last three years Malta’s aviation industry has experienced rapid growth and professionals in the aviation industry have praised the ‘can do’ attitude of its aircraft registry, speaking highly of its customer service standards.

In summary, for two small islands, the Isle of Man and Malta registries really are a stride apart from the competition. In an increasingly crowded aircraft registration market they both possess the highly regulated and legislative environments aircraft owners require for registration of their asset, whether a private or commercial aircraft, coupled with the unique benefits of being able to provide VAT registration and import from their registration jurisdiction into the EU.

Abacus Aviation assists clients and their representatives in understanding the diverse requirements associated with the ownership and operation of an aircraft, whilst providing tax efficient aircraft ownership structures and facilitating aircraft operation on a private, corporate or commercial basis.

Whether you need a straightforward holding company or a special purpose vehicle for your aircraft, Abacus can provide a solution tailored to your individual requirements.