Yachts in commercial use, which do not carry cargo and do not carry more than 12 passengers, can be registered as commercial yachts. Maltese law has several fiscal advantages for the operation of commercial yachts. The Malta Commercial Code was launched in 2006 and was developed mostly based on industry established standards, but unlike other Codes, the Malta Code brings together in one document the requirements for both yachts below 24 metres and yachts above 24 metres. The Code has been proving successful and has gained acceptance and recognition within the industry. To date more than 150 yachts, with an average length of 30 metres, are registered as commercial yachts under the Malta flag.
As can be expected during the life of a technical Code, and in particular in this industry of ground breaking area of state of the art marine technology, there is always the need to update. Malta has therefore just issued a revision of the Code in September this year. The revised Code will serve the needs of the larger yacht industry better and aims to optimise the regulatory regime to the particular needs, demands and technologies of this market, in conformity with recent safety and international regulations and standards.
Maltese law is very advantageous for the operation of commercial yachts. The Commercial Yacht Code gives the opportunity to yacht owners to have their yachts registered under the Malta flag as a commercial vessel which therefore enables them to pay an annual tonnage tax on the tonnage of their yacht instead of income tax on earnings with savings made on building and operational costs. This is backed up with a sound legal system and several corporate, legal and tax experts on the island who can advise owners on these benefits.
YACHTS ELIGIBLE FOR REGISTRATION AS A COMMERCIAL YACHT
• Yachts in commercial use of over 15 m in length and which do not carry cargo and do not carry more than 12 passengers;
• All types of yachts can be registered as a commercial yacht under the Malta flag, including historical and training yachts;
• Yachts over 24 metres in length are to be built to the requirements and standards of a classification society authorised to issue statutory certificates on behalf of the Government of Malta. Malta recognises all leading classification societies. Yachts below 24 metres in length do not require to be classed
COMPLIANCE SURVEYS AND CERTIFICATION
A initial pre-registration survey is to be carried out in order to draw up a record of compliance with the Code. Grey areas and specific issues are discussed between the surveyor and the Administration through a transparent and recorded procedure. Upon agreeing any recommended design alternatives and establishing that the desirable standards are achieved, the Administration issues a Certificate of Compliance to trade as a Commercial Yacht enabling operational registration. Compliance surveys can be carried by one of the approved Government Surveys or by a Recognised Organisation
Thereafter, an annual survey is to be carried out. On yachts below 24 metres in length annual surveys may be carried out by the crew, while on yachts above 24 metres in length annual surveys are to be carried by an approved Government Surveyor or a Recognised Organisation. Annual Surveys are to be endorsed on the prescribed space on the Certificate of Compliance. A renewal survey is to be carried out every 5 years (yachts below 24 metres every 4 years). On satisfactory completion of the surveys, all trading surveys are renewed.