Ship and aircraft registration

The Merchant Shipping Act provides for the registration of ships in Malta. In terms of the Act and regulations thereunder provision is made for the registration of private and commercial yachts as well as larger vessels. Ships may be registered in the name of legally constituted corporate bodies or entities irrespective of nationality, or by a European Union citizen.

The registration process in all cases is twofold as ships are first registered temporarily on the Shipping Register and upon the attainment of further parliamentary requirements within a six-month period (extendable to one year) ships will be permanently registered under the Maltese flag. Maltese requirements well known to main shipyards and main classification societies which also facilitates the registration process.

The Maltese Shipping Register is a well-established and provides a 24 hour, seven days a week service. Malta is also on the White List of the Paris MoU and Tokyo MoU and on the Low Risk Ship List of the Paris MoU. The Shipping Register is one of the largest in the world and very active in European Union fora and international organisations

Pursuant to the enactment of the Aircraft Registration Act (Chapter 503, Laws of Malta) which entered into force with effect from Friday 1st October 2010, a new regime has been implemented to regulate the registration of aircraft, mortgages and other securities over aircraft and the implementation of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its Aircraft Protocol, which Malta has also obtained.

In terms of Maltese legislation, an aircraft may be registered by an owner who operates an aircraft, an owner of an aircraft under construction or an aircraft temporarily not being operated or managed, an operator of an aircraft under temporary title, subject to certain conditions, as well as a buyer of an aircraft under condition of sale or title reservation agreement.

There are many benefits and innovative concepts related to the registration of aircraft in Malta which include:

  • More visibility of rights and interests in aircraft through the updating of the National Register;
  • Incentives to encourage the development of finance and operating leases of aircraft. New legislation provides clear rules on the tax treatment of the finance charge, available tax deductions to finance lessor and capital allowances for lessees;
  • Broader registration possibilities, extending to aircraft under construction or temporarily not in service, and aircraft under a temporary title;
  • Recognition of fractional ownership of aircraft;
  • No withholding tax on lease payments where the lessor is not a tax resident of Malta;
  • Competitive minimum depreciation periods for aircraft;
  • The private use of an aircraft by an individual who is not resident in Malta and is an employee/officer of an employer/company/partnership whose business activities include the ownership/leasing/operation of aircraft used for international transport does not constitute a taxable fringe benefit;
  • The new legislation implements the provisions of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its Aircraft Protocol thereby granting secured lenders more protection and more effective remedies whilst allowing lower borrowing costs.
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Partner | Head of tax, regulatory and compliance | International Liaison Director
Wayne Pisani
Wayne Pisani
Partner | Head of tax, regulatory and compliance | International Liaison Director
Wayne Pisani