Building on its long and varied maritime tradition, Malta, a member of the European Union, has today established itself as one of the leading maritime hubs and service centres in the Mediterranean region. Malta has established itself as a flag of choice within the pleasure yacht sector, and consequently, has the largest shipping registry in Europe. An optimized VAT finance leasing structure in Malta can help minimize the amount of value-added tax payable upon yacht registration in order to gain legal access to EU waters.

In addition to being one of the top jurisdictions in Europe in yacht registration, citizens of Malta can directly register a yacht without the need to incorporate a local company.


  • Malta Flag – Reputed European Flag with a long maritime tradition highly respected by port authorities around the world.
  • Outstanding Global Status – Malta boasts a prestigious reputation within the international yachting community. Malta is on the White List of the Paris and Tokyo MoU
  • Advantageous Ownership – registering a yacht in Malta is fast and inexpensive. Following company formation, the necessary purchase occurs, and the company is now the direct owner of the yacht. This setup results in a flexible legal entity sanctioned to carry out a variety of shipping activities including chartering of the vessel.
  • Foreign Ownership Allowed – foreign corporations (including offshore companies) are permitted to register a yacht under the Maltese flag provided they have a resident agent in the country.
  • Anonymous Ownership – it is possible to achieve confidentiality on the ownership of the yacht by appointing a fiduciary.
  • Marriages – Marriages can be officiated onboard Maltese yachts.
  • Low Yacht Registration Costs – Malta has extremely low yacht registration and annual renewal costs including the company setups required to buy an yacht..
  • No Mortgage Restrictions – Malta has no restrictions on the sale or transfer of shares of yacht-owning companies. The country also has no restrictions on the mortgaging of local vessels.
  • No Restrictions on Crew – Malta does not place any restrictions on the nationality of crew members serving on locally registered yachts. This allows employment of any ideal candidate as captain, officer, chef, deckhand, or other crew member position regardless of nationality.
  • No Age Limits – Malta does not have an age restriction on vessels. Ships between 15 and 20 years old must pass an inspection before or within a month of being provisionally registered; ships from 20 to 25 years old must pass an inspection prior to provisional registration, and any vessel older than 25 years old requires specific permission from Maltese authorities.
  • Peace of Mind – with fantastic year-round weather, graced with one of the most sheltered natural harbours in the World, and stunning marinas with exceptional facilities including top-notch security, Malta provides international yacht owners with a sense of safety and stability regarding valuable property.
  • VAT Savings – a yacht can become “EU VAT paid” granting unrestricted access to EU waters for as little as 30% of the normal VAT rate (5.4%) via a Malta yacht VAT leasing scheme.
  • Low Maintenance Costs – yacht berthing and maintenance costs in Malta are amongst one the lowest in the EU.
  • Super Yachts – Quick efficient registration process

Registration Process

Any maltese citizen or EU citizens or a company based in EU may register an yacht without restrictions. A local agent is required unless resident of Malta. Non-EU citizens or third country nationals may register a vessel under a maltese company owned by them.

All types of vessels, from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, including vessels under construction, may be registered, provided that, inter alia, they are wholly owned by legally constituted corporate bodies or entities irrespective of nationality, or by European Union citizens; a Maltese ship may also be bareboat charter registered under another flag.

A commercially registered yacht is considered to be a yacht, of 15 metres in length or more, which do not carry cargo, carries not more than 12 passengers and operated by the owner or body corporate owning the yacht for commercial use.

The following classes of yachts will be considered for commercial registration:

  • Yachts in commercial use of not less than 15 metres in length and not more than 24 metres.
  • Superyachts in commercial use of more than 24 metres in length and less than 500 gross tonnes.
  • Superyachts in commercial use of more than 24 metres in length and 500 gross tonnes and over.

Super Yachts

Since 2006, Maltese law provides for the registration of yachts and superyachts which are in commercial use as commercially registered yachts or superyachts which has become a flag of confidence. Malta has developed a very strong legal and regulatory platform that has enabled the Malta Flag to become a reputable international ship register which is now established as one of the largest in the world. Registering your yacht or superyacht is a straight forward procedure which includes a provisional six month registration under the Malta Flag during which period all documentation needs to be submitted for the registration to be finalized.


Any yacht spending more than 6 months in EU waters is subject to VAT in the place of effective importation. Upon payment of VAT, a yacht has the right to free movement throughout the entire EU zone.  Import of a yacht in Malta is subject to 18% Maltese VAT, which is lowest in Europe, payable to the Customs Authorities at point of customs clearance. When the yacht is imported for non-business purpose, the 18% import VAT would not be reclaimable. When the yacht is intended to be leased out or used commercially (“Commercial Yacht”), the import VAT can be claimed back by the importer through standard VAT claim procedures.

Maltese Citizenship

The Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) offers high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families worldwide citizenship in a highly respected EU Member Country.  Malta, a member of the European Union since 2004, enjoys a stable political climate, a buoyant economy, backed by stable economy and high rise property market.

Source/Credit: Finance Malta/ Mondaq