Malta has become a popular destination for aircraft registration in light of its favourable tax laws, efficient regulatory environment and smooth registration process. Aircraft registration in Malta is governed by the Aircraft Registration Act, 2010 (Cap. 503 of the Laws of Malta). The Act is implemented following provisions of the Cape Town Convention (2001), ensuring protection of third-party rights and international interests.
Since the inception of the Aircraft Registration Act, Malta has grown to be one of the most reputable aircraft registers, currently listing 778 aircraft flying Malta’s flag. This number increased by 500% over a period of 10 years.
Registration of an aircraft in Malta is a straightforward procedure carried out through the Authority for Transport in Malta and can be completed in a short period of time. Upon successful registration, aircrafts are issued with a Certificate of Registration with the Civil Aviation Directorate of Malta and included in the National Aircraft Register of Malta.
Benefits of registering an aircraft in Malta
Registering an aircraft in Malta offers numerous advantages, inter alia:
Tax Benefits: Malta offers favourable tax benefits for aircraft owners, making Malta an ideal location for companies seeking to optimise their tax liabilities, including but not limited to:
- Reduced VAT rate on the purchase of aircraft
- Waiver of stamp duty on import of an aircraft.
- No withholding tax on lease payments where the lessor is not a tax resident of Malta;
- Private use is not considered to be a taxable fringe benefit;
- Malta resident companies (both aviation and non-aviation) may benefit from an extensive tax treaty network with over 70 jurisdictions, including the United States;
- Tax opportunities for leasing of aircraft, such as tax depreciation, partial shareholder tax refunds and absence of withholding tax on outbound payment of dividends and interest;
- Reduced VAT percentage on lease charges, where the VAT rate is calculated based on time spent in European Union airspace and the craft’s range in kilometres
Cost-Effectiveness: The cost of registering an aircraft in Malta is generally lower compared to other European jurisdictions. The fees for registration and maintenance of the aircraft are relatively low, which can be beneficial for owners who are looking to reduce their operational costs.
Favourable Legal and Regulatory Environment: Malta has a well-established legal and regulatory framework for aviation. It is a member of the European Union and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which ensures compliance with international aviation standards and regulations. This provides a high level of legal certainty and stability for aircraft owners and operators.
Reputation: Malta is a reputable jurisdiction for aircraft registration and has a strong reputation in the aviation industry. This can be beneficial for owners who are looking to enhance the value and marketability of their aircraft.
Flexibility: Malta allows for the registration of all types of aircraft, including commercial, private, and business aircraft. Maltese flexible regulatory framework also allows for the customization of ownership structures, financing arrangements and operating leases structures of an aircraft. There are also the possibilities to register an aircraft under construction or to fraction ownership interests of aircraft.
High level of safety and security: As a signatory to the Convention, Malta has implemented its provisions and created a legal framework for the registration of security interests in aircraft. This has created a more favourable environment for secured transactions and increased access to financing for the aviation industry in Malta.
Easy access to the EU airspace: as Malta is an EU Member State, Malta registered aircraft can fly freely over all other EU Member States without restrictions or additional bureaucratic hurdles.
Availability of aviation support services: Malta offers a wide range of airline services available locally, such as aircraft and engine maintenance, repair and overhaul, aircraft management, aircraft maintenance training and other ancillary support services, making it easy for the aircraft owners to receive all necessary support through their business operations.
Eligibility requirements to register an aircraft in Malta
Requirements for registration of an aircraft in Malta vary depending on the purpose of use of that said aircraft. Aircraft can be registered in Malta whether as commercial air services provider or for private use.
To be registered as a commercial or private aircraft, the registrant must meet the established through the Act qualifying criteria as set below.
Furthermore, whether private or commercial, there are no restrictions on the nationality of shareholders and directors of established Maltese aviation companies.
Persons eligible to Register an Aircraft in Malta
- An owner operating an aircraft;
- An owner of an aircraft under construction or temporarily not being operated or managed;
- An operator of an aircraft under a temporary title (where an aircraft is under a lease agreement, an operating agreement, or similar agreement);
- A buyer of an aircraft under a conditional sale or title reservation agreement authorised to operate the aircraft;
- A trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries.
To register an aircraft in Malta, foreign registrants who satisfy the established above qualifying criteria shall appoint a local resident agent in Malta who is capable of carrying out the functions of registering an aircraft on their behalf.
The resident agent shall act as a channel of communication between the international registrant and the Director General and other authorities. Other duties of the resident agent include acting as the judicial representative of the international registrant in judicial proceedings in Malta, as well as signing and filing of any declarations and forms required in terms of Maltese law.
For the purposes of the provisions of the Aircraft Registration Act, international registrants may be established in any of the approved jurisdiction as approved by the Minister and may be reviewed from time to time:
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Croatia, Djibouti, Egypt, Georgia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Isle of Man, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saint Lucia, San Marino, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates.
Procedure for aircraft registration in Malta
The registration of an aircraft in Malta is initiated by filing of an application for registration by the prospective registrant or his resident agent. The application shall include the details of the aircraft to be registered, the details of the ownership and acquisition, information and qualifications of the registrant, and shall be accompanied by the relevant supporting documentation.
In addition to the above, the registration of a commercial aircraft involves additional requirements, obliging all operators to hold an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and an Air Operator Licence (AOL). These certifications are granted by the Civil Aviation Directorate at the Authority for Transport in Malta.
The AOC certificate confirms the operator’s professionalism and ability to safely operate a commercial aircraft. An aircraft registered in Malta may only fly for the purpose of carriage of passengers or cargo in accordance with the terms of a certificate granted to the operator of the aircraft. The application process involves meeting various regulatory requirements, such as demonstrating compliance with safety standards, having a qualified management team, and having appropriate maintenance and operations procedures in place. Upon receipt of the AOC, the operator must respectively obtain an AOL in order to commence operations. The issued AOL allows the operator to provide specific commercial air services indicated therein.
Upon successful completion of application requirements and obtaining of the relevant certifications, where required, the Director General will be able to issue a Certificate of Registration and the classification of the aircraft for the purpose of application under the Act.
Documents required for the registration of an aircraft in Malta
The application for aircraft registration must be submitted to the Civil Aviation Directorate and include the following documents:
A fully completed application form;
Evidence of the aircraft’s ownership;
The lease agreement if the aircraft is being operated under a lease;
Proof that the registrant is qualified to apply;
Certificate of de-registration in case of the aircraft registered in an another country;
Documentation proving the registration of any mortgages on the aircraft.
The dedicated aviation team of SMM Group is here to provide you the necessary assistance with the process of aircraft registration in Malta, including assisting with setting up of aviation companies in Malta, drafting and reviewing of aviation-related agreements and assistance with applications for air operator certificates (AOC) and operating licences (AOL). Our professional experience and thorough knowledge of the Maltese aviation laws allow us to provide all required legal support for a smooth registration and ongoing support of your aircraft.
Contact us to schedule a consultation and we will be glad to discuss how we can support your aviation business. Our goal is to ensure your success by providing you with the highest quality legal services and personalized attention.