by Carlos de Sousa e Brito
There is a major sea change
ahead for the registration of vessels, as some European legislation is being
prepared to convince ship owners to register their vessels in the European
Union (EU). Germany, for example, is currently preparing a law to prevent ship
owners from registering their ships outside of the EU.
Per this proposed law, ship owners would have to register at least 60 per cent
of their tonnage in the EU in order to avoid losing several relevant tax
benefits. Considering that the major ship owners presently register their ships
in non-EU countries such as Panama, Hong Kong, and Sierra Leone, among others,
this change could have a strong impact on those local economies and prompt
response from ship owners. A final version of the legislation is not yet
There are three major EU International Shipping Registers: Malta International
Ship Register, Gibraltar Ship Register and the International Shipping Register
This analysis considers the International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR),
which offers ship owners and the shipping community low operational costs, yet
maintains the quality and safety of an EU register service.
It is important to know that all entities undertaking the maritime
transportation of persons and goods, operating from Madeira or any other
jurisdiction, may register vessels with the MAR using the Portuguese flag. This
provides them full access to continental and domestic cabotage, as well as
access to a competitive tax regime applicable to both vessels and shipping
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Carlos de Sousa e Brito is
founder and senior partner of Carlos de Sousa e Brito & Associados. He
oversees the firm's practice of maritime, business, foreign investment,
European Community, competition, banking, intellectual property,
telecommunications, and oil law, as well as international tax planning for
project financing. Mr. de Sousa e Brito was formerly Portugal's Secretary of
State for Social Communication and a member of the negotiation committee for
the International Convention on the Seas.