Our website uses  cookies for statistical purposes.

Our Articles

Maritime Law in Malta

Maritime Law in Malta

Malta is an island located in the middle of the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The geographic position places Malta among the best maritime centers in the world and it has also helped the island in the development of its economy.

In 1973, Malta transformed its homeport Valletta into an open register of shipping that provides ancillary services, such as shipbuilding and repairs. Valletta acts also as a freeport.

In 1991, the Malta Maritime Authority was enabled and its main function was the administration of the Malta Registry of Shipping and Seamen. In 2010 the Maritime Authority was incorporated in Transport Malta, the authority that supervises land and air transport in the country.

Our Maltese lawyers can offer more information on the provisions of the Maritime Act.

The Merchant Shipping Act in Malta

The first legal framework regulating maritime activities in Malta is the Merchant Shipping Act that was enabled in 1973. This law has been amended several times and is now one of the most complex laws in Malta and it contains both legal and technical requirements for conducting merchant shipping activities

Maltese ships, registered according to the Merchant Shipping Act, have the right to fly the Malta flag and benefit from international recognition and protection. The “Malta flag” was enabled in 1973 together with the Merchant Shipping Act. Today, the Maltese Ship Register is the 6thlargest Register in the world and the largest in Europe.

International maritime laws in Malta

Malta has trading activities with many countries all over the world thanks to its merchant fleet and to all international maritime legislation the country adhered to. Malta is part of all important international maritime laws.

Among the International Maritime Organization’s conventions Malta adhered to are the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) of 1974, the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW) of 1978 and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) of 1973. Malta is also part of many ILO (International Labor Organization) conventions among which the Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 is the most important. The Maritime Labor Convention establishes the minimum standards and employment conditions for seamen worldwide.

Boat registration conditions under the Malta Maritime Law

The Maltese Maritime Law has subsidiary regulations which provide for the registration of boats and yachts. These laws have been amended several times considering Malta has evolved as a maritime center in the last years and the number of maritime companies has increased.

The Maritime Act provides for both the registration of vessels for personal or commercial purposes.

In order to register a boat or a yacht in Malta, a company or a natural person must first choose a name of for the vessel which must be original, according to the Ships’ Name Regulations of 1973. The law also specifies that boats with a length of maximum 24 meters are exempt for registration in Malta. For all other types of vessels, the following requirements apply:

  • –       the ship can be registered only if it respects the safety conditions, as requested by the law;
  • –       the ship may also be registered based on the declaration of the owner, even if the vessel is still under construction;
  • –       if the vessel is under construction, the owner must present the bill of sale upon registration.

No matter the type of boat one wants to register in Malta, the registration is subject to a fee. Also, before the ship is registered it will be verified by a surveyor.  The boat must also bear its name carved on the bows. Considering there are various requirements to be fulfilled upon the registration of a vessel, it is best to verify with a law firm in Malta the specific requirements of the maritime legislation.

For details about the maritime laws and boat registration, you can contact our lawyers in Malta.