When superyachts enter into a new flag state and jurisdiction, the rules and regulations can greatly vary, with numerous advantages to each destination. Yachting Pages spoke to Alison Vassallo, senior associate in the yachting department at one of Malta’s leading law firms, Fenech and Fenech Advocates, who explained how Malta is an attractive choice for superyachts, while outlining some of the benefits available with the jurisdiction in the popular yachting destination.
The Maltese flag offer a range of advantages for superyacht owners and managerss
Fenech and Fenech Advocates explained how Malta remains popular choice for yacht registration and fiscal requirements
Alison explained how Malta is becoming an increasingly attractive destination and a preferred choice for yacht owners and operators by commenting, “Malta’s solid track record as a stable jurisdiction with an unparalleled tradition in maritime affairs has continued to attract some of the world’s most beautiful yachts and influential yacht owners. The jurisdiction has proven to be popular with owners and financiers of both private and commercial yachts with regard to their flagging requirements – Malta is currently the largest flag in Europe and the seventh largest worldwide – and also their financing, chartering, importation, yacht leasing and general fiscal requirements.
The advantages Malta can offer superyacht owners can be very beneficial. Alison commented, “In registering their private or commercial yacht under the Malta flag, owners benefit from straightforward, quick and low-cost company and yacht registration procedures and a 24-hour seven days a week service. In the context of acquisitions involving lending by banks, the security that is offered by Maltese law to mortgagees of Maltese registered vessels continues to provide international lenders with confidence that the law of the flag will protect their financial interest.”
When asked about the laws surrounding private and commercial use, Alison stated, “From its inception in 2005 to date, the Maltese leasing structure has proven to be a popular and reliable solution aimed at assisting yacht owners to pay VAT on their yachts and for them to obtain a VAT paid certificate from the Maltese Government at the termination of the structure.
“A strong point which needs to be emphasised is the excellent relations which the private sector enjoys with the local authorities and how this strengthens the overall efficiency and service that can be offered in the clearance of yachts and the obtainment of necessary approvals”.
In referring to the “Guidelines for the VAT Treatment of Short-Term Yacht Chartering” which contemplate the payment VAT on charters depending on the presumed use of the yacht in EU waters, Alison commented that, “While the concentration of charters has traditionally and will very much remain scattered in the West Med, as a result of its unique location and proximity to Sicily and Tunisia, Malta undeniably offers a fascinating option as a starting point to a charter holiday in the Med.”
Alison then went on to conclude how Malta is firmly established as a popular flag choice by stating, “As a result of its robust legal system, excellent level of service provided by the various key players in the industry, including the regulators, strategic location and the number of other solutions available to yacht owners and operators, Malta is steadily strengthening its position as a jurisdiction of choice for yacht owners and operators.”
Established seven years ago as a direct and immediate reaction to the legislative enactments promulgated by the Government which specifically targeted superyachts, the Yachting Department within Fenech and Fenech Advocates, headed by the Firm’s managing partner Ann Fenech, works in conjunction with their specialised ship registration, finance, tax and litigation departments in assisting on a daily basis the owners and financiers of both private and commercial yachts.
Fenech and Fenech Advocates regularly attend the main yacht shows and events held throughout the year, with members of their departments being invited to speak regularly at industry events held in Malta, Nice and Monaco.