The Malta Ship Register

The Malta Ship Register went through an extreme growth since 1999. Learn how Malta became the largest ship register in Europe.

In the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta has developed one of the most reputable ship registers globally. The European Union member has the largest ship register in Europe, offering a wide array of international maritime services.

Although previously notoriously known as a flag of convenience, the Malta flag has become a flag of choice that many seek out as their main and first choice of flag.

The Malta Ship Register’s history

The Malta Ship Register was launched in the mid-1970s, although maritime tradition in Malta dates back thousands of years.

It faced a great deal of criticism following the ‘Erika’ disaster in 1999. A 25-year-old single-hull oil tanker flying the Maltese flag broke into two and polluted hundreds of kilometres of French coastline. It rendered the incident one of the worst environmental disasters in maritime history.

The incident motivated the Maltese government to adopt stricter legislative and regulatory procedures regarding the registration of ships in Malta. The European Commission drew up three packages following the incident.

The Erika 1 package underlined the inadequacies in the Maltese maritime system, increased control in ports, supervised the activities of classification societies, and eliminated single-hull tankers.

The Erika II package founded a European maritime safety agency, increased safety in maritime traffic, provided for the prevention of pollution by ships and advanced schemes relating to liability and compensation for damages created by pollution.

The Erika III package catered for stepping up the maritime system of Malta to reflect international standards, in line also with EU legislation.

The Malta Flag today

The Malta Ship Register provides registered ships with a wide variety of benefits, financially and otherwise. Moreover, the Malta Flag is on the White List and Low-Risk Ship List of the Paris Mou. It provides attractive incentives to owners, registered charterers, and financiers of Maltese yachts and vessels.

Affording a progressive reduction in registration and tonnage tax costs for younger yachts and vessels, the Malta Flag does not impose any nationality restrictions on the masters, officers, and crew. Furthermore, there are no trading restrictions, hidden costs and inspection fees.

The Malta Flag is very active in European Union fora and international organisations. It has a clear strategic political vision supporting business and the maritime industry. Besides being a well organised and highly responsible flag administration, the Malta Flag provides a range of maritime services, including very reputable and experienced legal and corporate services supporting registration, management and administration.