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05 September 2007
As the term 'ship' is widely defined under the Merchant Shipping Act, all types of vessel (including those under construction) as well as other marine structures (eg, oil rigs and pontoons) may be registered under the Maltese flag.
Vessels may be registered under the Maltese flag only if evidence of seaworthiness is established by one of the internationally recognized classification societies (ie, a member of the International Association of Classification Societies).
Restrictions regarding the age of a vessel were introduced only recently by the Maltese administration. In particular, the Malta Maritime Authority has introduced a flag state inspection requirement for vessels aged between 15 and 20 years. This inspection is carried out within the first month of provisional registration of the vessel under the Maltese flag. All costs are borne by the administration itself.
However, vessels aged 20 years and over are subjected to a flag state inspection prior to registration under the Maltese flag. The cost of such an inspection (LM1,000) is borne by the owner. If the administration is satisfied that the vessel conforms with all the safety standards required by the relative international conventions, the vessel will be allowed registration under the Maltese flag.
Vessels of 25 years and over are looked upon unfavourably by the administration and, generally speaking, are not accepted under the flag.
The registration of a vessel under the Maltese flag offers the shipowner a number of advantages, including the following:
Furthermore, the Maltese Shipping Registry offers around-the-clock service to deal with any urgent matters and to ensure the smooth and simultaneous transactions of vessel deliveries taking place, particularly in the Far East.
Maltese-flagged vessels may be owned by a Maltese individual or company or by a foreign corporate body or other entity which enjoys legal personality in terms of the law under which it has been established or constituted. Consequently, a Maltese or foreign shipping company must first be incorporated before the vessel is registered in the company's name under the Maltese flag.
Maltese company incorporation is a straightforward procedure and a shipping company may be registered with the registrar of companies within one day, provided that the requisite documentation is submitted.
The following is a list of documents and information required for the incorporation of a Maltese shipping company:
If the Maltese-flagged vessel is to be owned by a foreign corporate body or entity, a resident agent must be appointed who is habitually resident in Malta and who can carry out satisfactorily the registrar general of shipping's functions. Such a resident agent will be expected to act as a channel of communication between the shipowner and the Maltese governmental departments and authorities.
Registration of Mortgages under Maltese Law
The filing and registration of the mortgage instrument is effected at the Malta Maritime Authority before the registrar general of shipping, and the mortgage deed is drawn up on the appropriate statutory form. Apart from a copy of the mortgage deed itself, no other security documents need be registered.
The registration of a mortgage can be effected through the services of a Maltese representative for the mortgagor by virtue of duly legalized corporate authorities, including a power of attorney. This ensures that any amendments or alterations that may arise at the last minute may easily be effected by the duly empowered attorney-in-fact. Moreover, the mortgagee's representative can ensure that prior to registration of the mortgage, there are no other existing mortgages or encumbrances which may jeopardize the priority ranking of the financier.
The following documents are required for the registration of a vessel under the Maltese flag:
Moreover, the classification society in charge of documentation relating to international safety management must also undertake to release an interim safety management certificate for the vessel.
Further documents, such as the original bill of sale and deletion certificate
from the previous registry, must be filed within one month of provisional registration
of the vessel.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
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