On the 2nd of September 2021 the Merchant Shipping Directorate of Transport Malta issued the “Commercial Yacht – Pleasure Yacht Changeover Guidelines” (the Guidelines). The Guidelines serve both to lay down certain important considerations with respect to the change of registration of a Malta flag yacht from pleasure to a commercial (and vice versa) and to set out the procedural steps to be followed when yacht owners intend to carry out this change.

While the change in status of Malta flagged yachts has to date been readily accepted and processed by the Malta Ship Registry, the Guidelines now provide clear guidance on the steps to be followed in achieving the changes, in line with the Malta Commercial Yacht Code. The Guidelines clarify that the Merchant Shipping Directorate at Transport Malta imposes no limits on the number of changes made to the registration status of a Malta flagged yacht. The Guidelines further confirm that there is no limit on the duration of the change of registration, thereby offering yacht owners a considerable degree of flexibility with respect to changing their yacht’s registration.

Whilst this degree of flexibility is offered to the yacht owners, the Guidelines recommend that the same survey and certification regime as required for commercial yachts is retained when changing from a commercial to a pleasure registration. This is intended to facilitate a change back to commercial status. Additionally, the Guidelines specify that an undertaking to be signed by the owner or the manager of the yacht attesting that they will return the current certificate of registry of the yacht is to be filed immediately together with the request to change registration of the yacht.

The Guidelines set out that in the event of multiple changeovers during a single year the fees due to Transport Malta for a change from a pleasure to a commercial registration of the yacht shall be paid only once during the said year and not with each changeover.

The Guidelines are a welcome development since they provide yacht owners, managers and representatives clarity on the salient considerations for yacht registration changeovers and the procedural aspects linked to changeovers under the Maltese flag.

The Guidelines including the procedural steps for the changeover process may be found here.

For further information on ship and yacht registration under the Malta flag please contact Matthew Cassar on email matthew.cassar@fenechlaw.com