Malta Vessel Transfer of Ownership

Dr. Silvana Zammit | Published on 08 Feb 2012

Ccmalta Default

The transfer of ownership of Maltese-registered vessels or a share therein, may only be valid provided that prospective owners qualify as persons eligible to own a Maltese ship. Such persons include Maltese or European Union citizens, as well as bodies corporate established in Malta.

Nonetheless, Maltese law provides for other possibilities, namely to register the vessel in the name of an international owner and such owner would appoint a resident agent in Malta. Alternatively, a shipping organisation can be set up, that is, a Maltese company set up for the purpose of owning the ship and hence be the registered owner of the vessel.  If the latter is opted for, it is to be noted that a shipping organisation benefits from various fiscal advantages.

The ownership of any kind of vessels registered under the Malta flag is generally transferred by means of a bill of sale which shall contain a detailed description of the vessel and must be signed by the transferor that is the current owner, in the presence of a witness. The bill of sale shall eventually be filed with the Maltese ship registrar and thereafter entered into the Maltese ship registry, the date and hour of such entry being endorsed on the bill of sale.

Along with the bill of sale, the Maltese maritime authority does request other additional documents for their review and consequent closure of the transfer, which procedure is relatively quick once all documents are filed with the authority. Chetcuti Cauchi’s Maritime Law Practice Group is able to assist clients throughout the whole process, including communication and coordination between all parties involved in the transfer, and all correspondence with the Maltese maritime authority.


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