Malta is the largest ship registry in Europe and has held this position firmly for several years, each year adding consolidation to the position. At the end of 2014, the Malta ship register was deemed to be the sixth largest worldwide; having a registered gross tonnage of 57.9 million gross tons with over 2,500 merchant vessels registered in the Maltese registry.

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It is therefore no surprise that recent efforts to attract yacht registration to Maltese shores have also been highly successful. The Malta flag in yacht registration has seen an increase in registrations of 13.6% over 2013, in the context of super yachts having over 24 meters length. The current fleet of registered super yachts under the Maltese flag stands at 452 at the end of 2014.

A yacht may be registered as either a Private Yacht or else a Commercial Yacht. In each case the procedure is a relatively straightforward process with the correct supporting documentation. A provisional registration for an initial (extendable) period of 6 months is granted, during which the documentation is finalised, leading to a situation of permanent registration.

 Private Yachts

This is considered to be any pleasure yacht, having 6 metres in length or more, not carrying passengers for reward and not engaged in any trade, and is used for the sole purpose of the owner’s leisure/travelling etc.

 Commercial Yachts

Such a Yacht is considered to be of 15 metres in length or more but not more than 3000 gross tonnes; does not carry cargo; not more than 12 passengers and is operated by the owner or company owning the yacht and licensed for commercial use.

The following classes of yachts are considered for commercial registration:

  • Yachts in commercial use of not less than 15 metres in length and not more than 24 metres.
  • Super yachts in commercial use of more than 24 metres in length and less than 500 gross tonnes.
  • Super yachts in commercial use of more than 24 metres in length and 500 gross tonnes and over but less than 3000 gross tonnes.