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Registering The Ship – Malta

1. Ownership

1.1 What, if any, are the restrictions on ownership of vessels registered under the flag of Malta?

Vessels registered under the Malta flag may be owned by either:

1.1.1 European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Swiss nationals residing in Malta and corporate bodies established in Malta; or

1.1.2 EU, EEA and/or Swiss nationals not residing in Malta and foreign (EU/non-EU) corporate bodies provided a local resident agent is appointed.

1.2 If registration by companies is limited to companies incorporated in Malta, is a local brass-plate company sufficient, or must there be a closer, genuine connection?

Registration by companies is not limited to companies incorporated in Malta.

1.3 If registration by companies incorporated other than in Malta is permitted, must a local representative be appointed? If so, are there any restrictions on the identity of that representative?

Yes, a local representative referred to as a resident agent must be appointed to represent foreign companies.

1.4 Please summarise any restrictions (eg, as to number, nationality etc) on who may own shares in shipowning companies incorporated in Malta.

There are no restrictions.

1.5 Please explain any exchange control or other governmental or regulatory consents required in connection with the ownership of ships registered in Malta.

No exchange control or other governmental or regulatory consents are required in order to own Maltese ships.

1.6 Please explain any special rules for any particular type of vessel.

Special rules apply with regard to fishing vessels.

1.7 Is there any mandatory registration requirement for certain owners (eg, citizens of Malta)?

Other than the limitations referred to in Clause 1.1, there are no mandatory registration requirements.

2. Eligibility

2.1 Are any particular types/sizes of ship ineligible for, or exempt from, registration?

All types of vessel of at least six metres in length, from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, including vessels under construction, may be registered under the Maltese flag.

2.2 What, if any, is the maximum age for registration of ships under the flag of Malta?

Trading ships older than 25 years may not be registered, although the Registry may allow this in certain circumstances.

Ships older than 15 years are required to pass an authorised flag state inspection prior to provisional registration.

Ships aged between 10 and 15 years must also be inspected by an authorised flag state inspector before or within one month of registration.

3. Names

3.1 What, if any, are the restrictions on the name under which a ship may be registered in Malta?

The name proposed for a ship to be registered may be refused if it is already the name of a registered Maltese ship or a name so similar as to create confusion with another ship registered under the Malta flag.

3.2 Is there a procedure for approval of names in advance?

Yes, as explained below.

3.3 If so, how does it operate? Does approval confer any priority rights on the use of the name?

The owner of a ship intending to register that ship in Malta may apply to the Registrar to reserve the proposed name of the ship for a period of three months. This application may be renewed for extended periods of three months. Once a name is reserved it cannot be used by any person except the applicant of such name reservation.
Source: GANADO Advocates

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