Introducing the Small Commercial Yacht Code

Small Commercial Yacht Code (sCYC) 2024

Dr. Susanna Grech Deguara co-authored with Nicole Borg | Published on 04 Apr 2024

introcuing small commertial yacht code img

The Newly Introduced Small Commercial Yacht Code in a Nutshell

The Merchant Shipping Directorate has recently introduced the Small Commercial Yacht Code (sCYC), which has become effective from the first (1st) day of April 2024. The scope of the sCYC is to have a piece of legislation specifically dedicated for small commercial yachts which are larger or equal to six meters (6m) in hull length and smaller than twenty-four meters (24m) in length, engaged in commercial operations and which do not carry more than twelve (12) passengers (Small Commercial Yachts).

Key Legal Issues

  • Small Commercial Yachts’ Safety Standards
  • Compliance with the New Law
  • Phasing in New Requirements

Transition from the Commercial Yacht Code to the Small Commercial Yacht Code

The sCYC contains provisions which are tailormade for the newly defined yachts satisfying the previously mentioned conditions. The sCYC goes into various specifications, and outlines all the general procedures, arrangements and requirements regulating such yachts. Having said that however, those yachts which are already in existence, may be exempted, on a case-by-case basis, and at the sole discretion of administration, from any of the sCYC’s requirements which are, in their opinion, disproportionately onerous and technically impracticable. The latter might be considerably subjective; however, any such decision should find its basis in the prioritization of minimum safety standards as set out in the sCYC.

Owners of existing yachts are also given the opportunity to forward proposals to administration to phase in the new requirements. This can only be done within a time period not exceeding twelve months from the effective date of the Code. Alternatively, the owner and/or manager of an existing Small Commercial Yacht which does not comply with any of the requirements set in the sCYC, should provide administration with proposals for alternative arrangements or equivalencies.

The values and general guidelines of the sCYC take into consideration International Conventions, EU Directives, Industry Standards and other equivalent measures. It encompasses most of the latter’s safety standards, pollution prevention measures, and universal welfare norms appropriate for the size and navigation of such yachts.


As stated above, the sCYC applies solely to those yachts engaged in commercial use. The sCYC, however, further suggests that it is ‘’advisable and recommended’’ that pleasure yachts shorter than twenty-four meters (24m) in length, registered for private use, should also voluntarily comply, as far as practicable and reasonable, with the standards of the sCYC. Apart from ensuring a safer ambiance, applying such standards across the board would ensure a smoother transition between pleasure and commercial licenses, if required.

What this means for you

The promulgation of the new legislative framework has been well received by the industry. This renders the Valletta Flag very attractive for Small Commercial Yachts. It has filled up a lacuna which has been evident in the market. 

Having a tailored-made code which caters for the specific needs of the smaller yacht industry will surely benefit the industry. 

How we can help

Any Small Commercial Yacht holding the Maltese Flag must be compliant with the new requirements set out in the sCYC, within the next year. Besides compliance with this new law, such yachts are also required to comply with other laws, regulations, and requirements issued under the Maltese Merchant Shipping Act or any other EU, International or National applicable legislation or requirements.

Our Professional Legal Team can assist any small yacht owner in regularizing his yacht in accordance to the new law.

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Key Contacts

Dr Charlene Mifsud

Partner, Corporate & Commercial

+356 2205 6298

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

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