Malta Yacht Registration Procedures

Malta has become a flag of choice for yacht and superyacht owners.  A yacht may be registered as a commerical yacht or as a pleasure yacht.

Commercial Yachts:

The registration and operation of Maltese Commercial Yachts is regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act and a code of practice known as the Commercial Yacht Code.

A yacht owner wishing to register and operate as a Maltese commercial yacht must comply with the requirements contained in this Code. The Code is administered by Transport Malta which is the Government authority responsible for the registration of ships under the Malta flag.

The Commercial Yacht Code imposes standards of safety, pollution prevention and crew welfare which were developed with the relevant IMO Conventions, EU Directives and industry Standards in mind.

The main qualifying criteria for a commerical yacht to be registered in Malta include:

  1. A minimum overall length of 15 metres.
  2. There is no nationality restrictions for master, officers and crew.
  3. May operate worldwide subject to navigational notations granted by the Malta flag authorities.  This is based on the type and size of a yacht in question.
  4. Applies to both motor and sailing yachts.
  5. Commercial use for sport or pleasure which does not carry cargo and does not carry more then 12 passengers.
  6. No tonnage limitations.
  7. An initial survey must be carried out by an authorised surveyor or recognised organisation.
  8. Once compliant, the yacht is granted a “Certificate of Compliance to Trade as a Commercial Yacht” valid for 5 years subject to an intermediate survey for yachts below 24 metres in length and an annual survey for yachts above 24 metres.
  9. Yachts of 500 GT and above must be classed by a recognised organisation and maintain class throughout the period of commercial yacht registration.
  10. Save for the compliance requirement with the Commercial Yacht Code, the same procedure for registering any other vessel under the Merchant Shipping Act applies to the registration of a commercial yacht.
  11. Any type of yacht may be registered as a commercial yacht including historical, training and racing yachts.
  • Yachts may be owned by:
    • either EU, EEA and Swiss residents residing in Malta and corporate bodies established in Malta; or
    • EU, EEA and Swiss residents not residing in Malta and foreign corporate bodies through the appointment of a local resident agent.

In addition to the qualifying criteria summarised above, the Commercial Yacht Code addresses a number of matters which guarantee an overall flexible regime.

Racing Yachts

Should the owners and operators wish to participate in races, the Commercial Yacht Code offers the flexibility to do so.  Undeniably Commercial yachts still need to be fully compliant with the Code during races and during transit passages to and from the race location.  The Registry is to be informed beforehand and all persons on board should be covered by a valid insurance policy whilst racing and during the transit passages.


Owners wishing to register their non-commercial yachts as ‘racing yachts’ may also do so on a case by case basis.

Pleasure Yachts

Maltese law provides for a comparatively simple regime for the registration of yachts designated as ‘pleasure yachts’, therefore that are neither categorised as commercial nor racing, and are intended solely for private use.  There is considerable flexibility in the applicable regime, particularly for pleasure yachts which are smaller in size.

Malta’s strategic position is the natural advantage our island has when it comes to the registration of pleasure yachts.  At the borderline between Europe and North Africa, Malta is a hub for the maritime sector.

As a consequence Malta has gained a leading world-wide position in the registration of pleasure yachts through logistical advantages, but also through legal advantages.  The registration process is straight forward with a registration being obtainable within only three days.  Having English as our official language makes the process even faster and secure, not to mention that Malta is a member of the European Union.


Read more about the Advantages of Ship Registration in Malta.

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