The Malta Flag – Europe’s Leading Flag of Choice

Malta has today established itself as one of the leading maritime hubs and service centres in the Mediterranean region. It has developed a very strong regulatory platform that has enabled the Malta Flag to become a reputable and internationally recognised ship register which is now one of the largest in the world.

The Maltese ship register is regulated by a framework of the highest standards based on international and European Union legislation. The Maltese registration system is formulated in such a way as to attract the registration of newer as opposed to older vessels with the aim of reinforcing its safety record (the Maltese ship register in on the White List of the Paris MoU and Tokyo MoU). Safe ships and clean seas are matters of priority for the Malta Flag, a policy that is successfully increasing the number of ships on its register.

Throughout the years the Maltese Ship Register has maintained a steady growth rate and by the end of August 2017 the total gross tons registered was almost 77 million gross tons consolidating Malta’s position as the leading flag State in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. These positive achievements are a result of continuous hard work both by Transport Malta, the regulator of the shipping industry in Malta and the industry that has always given its support and full cooperation to the Maltese authorities.  There has always been a strong commitment towards establishing a sound, effective and efficient legal framework addressing safety, security and environmental protection. We have successfully achieved a number of key milestones such as attracting a younger tonnage fleet. We are committed to continue to intensify our efforts both on an international level and EU level for safe, secure and clean shipping. In addition, Malta has heavily invested in other niche markets becoming, for example, a world leader in the registration of super yachts and passenger ships.

All these results are encouraging, but in order to ensure a healthy maritime sector we will continue modernising and streamlining our legislative framework with the scope of creating further legal certainty to further attract foreign investment. It is for this reason that earlier this year we adopted new legislation providing for a very competitive tonnage tax regime in line with the applicable EU legislation and approved by the European Commission.

We definitely have to steer through a number of challenges in order to ensure the sustainable use of our seas and oceans, and we need to work towards reducing emissions from maritime transport. We will also continue promoting international requirements on an EU level and work constructively with our EU partners to maintain the competitiveness of the EU maritime sector.   We must remain cognisant of the fact that the maritime sector is operating in a global market and faces increased competition. We need to retain maritime knowhow and invest in more effective measures to attract further maritime professions. Maritime knowhow is crucial to maintain the momentum gained.

The Malta Flag also caters for the distinctive requirements of the yacht and superyacht industry. In fact it has developed specific legislation to this effect. Since 2006, Maltese law provides for the registration of yachts and superyachts which are in commercial use.

Aware of the particular need for updated technical and manning standards for the superyacht industry, the Malta Flag introduced the Malta Commercial Yacht Code. This was developed in line with international regulations and other industry standards and has been proving very successful with leading IACS Classification Societies and major yacht and superyacht builders alike. The number of commercial yacht certified in compliance with the Malta Code has been on a steady increase during the past years. This Code offers superyacht owners and operators who require very specific interpretation to their design, operational and safety requirements within the framework of international regulation. The Malta Flag offers yacht owners and builders comprehensive support during the build process to ensure compliance from the very early design stage through to completion. Nowadays, the Malta flag is a world leader in the registration of superyachts of over 24 metres in length, with over 750 superyachts flying the Malta flag.

Malta is also proud to be a maritime nation that was on the forefront in promoting women in shipping. It is indeed honoured to have certified the first five women master mariners. This shows the commitment of the Maltese shipping sector towards the United National Sustainable Development Goals and reaffirms the belief of the Maltese Government to empower more women.