A study carried out by Maltese maritime consultancy firm Combined Maritime Services has found that there is no one single maritime flag which is most competitive for all types of vessels, irrespective of the age of the vessel.

The third edition of a study gives a comparative breakdown of the costs involved in the registration of a vessel.

The Malta flag is the seventh largest flag of registry worldwide

The publication benchmarks registration rates applicable to a selected number of flag states, subjectively determined to be Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Norway and Panama.

Combined Maritime Services has expanded the comparison to include relevant criteria, such as manning scales, the issue of registering mortgages and registration of bareboat chartered vessels, among others. Various flag administrations have supported the study’s publication by contributing facts and figures. The Malta flag has grown considerably from 1,421 vessels under its registry in 2007 to 1,764 ships in 2012, with a registered gross tonnage of 44 million tons, making the Malta flag the seventh largest flag of registry on a worldwide level.

The study also highlights the conscious policy direction undertaken by the Malta Flag Authority, to improve the standing of its registry by attracting younger tonnage and making it more expensive for older tonnage to register.

The average age of the vessels under Maltese registry, which in 2012 represented the lowest recorded locally, is of 11 years against 16 years in 2007.

The flag having the oldest fleet is that of Greece, whereas Marshall Islands and Hong Kong have the ‘youngest’ fleet at seven years.

The publication focuses on critical aspects when registering a ship, as various factors govern the choice of flag by ship owners, the main being economical, fiscal, operational and political. Other relevant considerations are the reputation of the flag at an international level, the freedom of trading to any geographical region, as well as the professionalism of the flag administration.

The study can be obtained either in electronic format or hard copy, by e-mailing management@combinedmar.com.

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