Situated at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta’s location has always leant her immense strategic importance throughout history. Many of the world’s great maritime powers, from the Phoenicians and the Greeks to the Romans, French and the British, have all battled for their chance to take control of this important maritime gateway. Now the maritime spotlight turns once more to this small but densely populated island as new regulations reveal her to be potentially one of the most exciting new yacht registers today.
I spoke with specialist Maltese marine lawyerAnthony Galea to find out exactly why Malta is ticking all the right boxes.
|FJ:||Why is Malta back in the spotlight as a yacht register?|
Apart from bunkering services, the yachting industry has never really fully benefitted from Malta’s geographic position or its impressive infrastructure. What has brought the country to the forefront today is Malta’s membership within the EU, and more recently the implication of recent EU judgments concerning yacht operations, including the so-called Facet Trading, which now requests yachts to travel to the jurisdiction of choice to register for VAT and benefit from the exemptions and other provisions of the EU VAT legislation. Malta’s position at the centre of the Mediterranean, together with its repute as a strong financial centre, makes it a very interesting choice.
Another good example is The Bacino Case, as well as the more recent decision from the European Commission concerning the VAT exemption being applied by France. Malta is coming to the fore when compared to some of the more traditional yachting countries.
Maltese authorities still maintain a very ‘yacht friendly’ disposition and Maltese law offers some very advantageous treatment. Recent efforts by the Malta flag authorities are also worthy of mention. The Malta flag has an excellent track record and the flag authorities have been making sure the international yachting community is aware of this so owners have every confidence in flying the Malta flag.
| ||FJ:||Malta is one of the world’s largest commercial flags, renowned for its commercial shipping regime. What are the advantages of this for private yachting?|
There are various features that make Malta attractive - a distinctive flag backed by a solid corporate, legal and financial history. With the increased importance of yachting, the Flag immediately adopted the same advantageous regime that exists for commercial shipping to private yachts – so owners can expect straight forward and cost-effective registration procedures. The technical department is also very knowledgeable and importantly, very accessible, so service providers can expect to receive informed and prompt feedback.
|FJ:||And of course it is worth reminding people that Malta is part of the European Union…so it is a European flag.|
|AG:||Exactly. Noteworthy are the fiscal benefits relating to the business of acquiring and running commercial yachts. This is what makes the Malta flag potentially the most attractive European flag for commercial yachts wishing to charter in the Mediterranean and European waters. Furthermore, the revision of the Commercial Yacht Code in 2010 provides clear direction on the Flag’s expectations with regards to safety and security. |
|FJ:||What other benefits are there for private owners operating in the Med and the EU?|
With the increased pressure is coming from Customs and Fiscal authorities around the EU today, all solid and reliable solutions offered to the industry are of paramount importance and must be explored. In the case of an owner wishing to use his yacht privately, peace of mind can be ensured by using a Maltese leasing structure. This involves the payment of VAT, which for a yacht of 24-metres in length, can be as low as 5.4%. This is a structure that has been in place since 2005 and it is fully approved by the Maltese VAT Authorities.
There is also a plethora of very useful maritime policies designed specifically to attract the industry to Malta. These policies encourage foreign owners to base their business operations in Malta and fly the Malta flag. For as long as International Law recognises the right of each individual State to determine the terms and conditions under which it will grant its nationality to yachts worldwide, given Malta’s accession to the EU as a Member State, thus ensuring Maltese law complies with EU legislation, Malta will be the most convenient and safest of the EU flag options available. It definitely deserves some serious consideration from private yacht owners.
For more information on Malta as a Flag State or for information and advice on any aspects of yacht registration, contact:
Head of YPI Yacht Management, Franc Jansen on: +377 99 99 97 97
or email: email@example.com