What is a bareboat charter? A bareboat charter is the chartering of a vessel whereby the owner gives possession of the ship to a charterer, and it is the charterer who hires the master and crew.
Maltese law provides both for bareboat charter registration of foreign ships under the Malta flag and also for the bareboat charter registration of Maltese ships under a foreign flag. Vessels so registered enjoy the same rights and privileges, and have the same obligations, as any other ship registered in Malta.
The two main principles adopted at law on bareboat charter registration are, the compatibility of the two registries, and, that matters regarding title over the ship, mortgages and encumbrances are governed by the underlying registry, while the vessel falls under the jurisdiction of the bareboat charter registry.
Bareboat Charter Registration of foreign ships under the Malta flag
The maximum period for such type of registration is two years, which period may be further extended for additional periods of two years each should the parties involved agree to do so.
The requirements for bareboat charter registration in Malta are:
The ship must be bareboat chartered to Maltese citizens or Maltese bodies corporate;
The ship is not a Maltese ship, and is registered in a compatible registry;
The ship is not registered in another bareboat registry;
The registration procedure does not differ much from normal registration of a vessel and the following documents must be produced:
an application for registration by the charterer or an authorised representative;
a declaration of bareboat charter accompanied by the charter agreement;
a transcript or an extract of the underlying registration;
a copy of the ship’s International Tonnage Certificate;
the consent in writing of the underlying registry owners and mortgagees;
evidence of seaworthiness; in the case of trading vessels, confirmation of class;
payment of initial and annual registration fees.
Vessels registered as bareboat charter need to conform to the same obligations and benefit from the same rights and privileges accorded to vessels registered under the Malta flag.
Bareboat Charter Registration of Maltese ships under a foreign flag
The first step to carry out this type of registration involves the issue of consent by the Maltese maritime authority to that effect. Such consent will only be issued upon filing and review of certain documents such as consent by registered owners and mortgagees, and evidence of compatibility of foreign registry where applicable.