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Maritime Law

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    The important strategic location of the island, together with the excellent infrastructure which the Republic of Cyprus has in place, are two important factors to which the growth of the shipping industry in Cyprus is largely attributable. The Republic of Cyprus is an active member of the International Maritime Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The Republic of Cyprus is also a party to the Convention of the High Seas 1958 and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.

    The tax regime which is presently in place makes provisions, inter alia, for the following:

    • No tax is payable neither on profits from the operation of a Cypriot registered vessel nor on dividends received from a ship owing company
    • No capital gains tax is payable on the sale or transfer of a Cypriot registered vessel or the shares of a ship owning company
    • Emoluments of seamen employed on board of Cypriot registered vessels are exempt from tax
    • No estate duty or inheritance tax is levied following the death of a shareholder of a ship owning company

     A vessel is deemed to be Cypriot where more than 50% of the shares are owned by:

    • A Cypriot Citizen
    • A company registered in Cyprus, irrespective of whether or not the shareholders of that company are aliens or not
    • A company registered outside Cyprus, where a controlling interest is held by Cypriot citizens, with the special permission of the Cypriot Council of Ministers.

      A vessel of any type and tonnage may be registered subject to the age of the vessel. The following stipulations are in place:
      • Vessels not exceeding 15 years of age may be registered without a survey
      • Vessels over 15 years but not exceeding 17 years, may be registered subject to a satisfactory special survey
      • Vessels over 17 years but not exceeding 20 years, may be registered subject to a satisfactory special survey, and provided that they are operated by a ship management company certified as being ISM Code compliant
      • Vessels over 20 years, but not exceeding 23 years of age may be registered subject to annual satisfactory special surveys, and provided that they are operated by a ship management company certified as being ISM Code compliant

    The special surveys mentioned above must be carried out by surveyors of the Department of Merchant Shipping at the owner’s expense.

    Provisional Registration

    A vessel may become provisionally registered for six months (extendable for a further three months), and provisional registration may be affected by a Cypriot consul, without the vessel being physically present in a Cypriot port. In order for a vessel to become provisionally registered an application must be submitted to the Minister of Communications and Works, through the Registrar of Cyprus ships, with the following documents:

    • Current and proposed name of the vessel
    • Flag which the vessel is currently flying
    • Name of the corporation applying for registration
    • Particulars of the vessel (type of vessel, year of built, gross and net tonnage)
    • Intended trading area
    • Name of the current and proposed classification society with which the vessel is and will be entered
    • Location of the vessel at the time of provisional registration
    • Name of the consular officer where the owners wish to effect provisional registration
    • Names and addresses of shareholders and directors of the company in whose ownership the vessel will be registered.

    In addition to the foregoing, the following documents must be submitted to the Registrar of Cyprus ships:

    • Confirmation by an approved Radio Traffic Accounting Authority that a contract is in place between them and the owners of the vessel, providing for the settlement of the vessel’s radio traffic accounts with the telecommunication authorities in the various countries which may serve the vessel
    • Confirmation by the vessel’s Classification Society that upon the vessel’s registration under the Cypriot flag, it undertakes to issue new Safety Certificates on behalf of the Cyprus government
    • Resolution of the board of directors of the company which is proposing to acquire the vessel (“the Acquiring Company”), resolving to acquire the vessel, and register her in the register of Cyprus ships
    • Power of attorney issued by the Acquiring Company, authorizing any person to attend to all matters pertaining to the registration of the vessel
    • True copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Acquiring Company
    • Declaration of ownership (Form MS 3)
    • Memorandum of appointment of  Ship’s Husband (MS 10)
    • Bill of sale (certified and attested) evidencing the sale of the vessel
    • Certificate of deletion of the ship from the previous registry, or a confirmation by the previous registry that the vessel is free from all encumbrances and may be transferred to another registry
    • Application for license to install and work a wireless telegraphy and /or telephony station on board the vessel registered under the flag of the Republic of Cyprus (MS 34)
    • Confirmation that the vessel remains in class and is in possession of valid trading certificates

    Once the registration has been approved and the relevant fees and tonnage tax for the initial period of six months have been paid, the Registrar will instruct the pertinent Cypriot consul to effect provisional registration by issuing the Certificate of Provisional Cypriot Registration (Form MS 5) and the Provisional Radio Licence.

    Permanent Registration

    Permanent registration of a provisionally registered vessel must be concluded within nine months (including the aforementioned three months extension) from the date of the vessel’s provisional registration.

    In addition to the documents which are enunciated under the Provisional Registration section, the following additional documents must be lodged with the Registrar of Ships:

    • Certificate of survey  (Form MS 1 or MS 1A)
    • Application for permanent registration
    • Original certificate of deletion from the previous registry (if this was not filed during the application for provisional registration)
    • Copy of the agreement signed with the vessel’s international radio accounting authority
    • Copies of the vessel’s statutory certificates
    • International tonnage certificate (Form MS 12C)
    • Duly certified vessel’s Carving and Marking Note (Form MS 32)

    Permanent registration under Cyprus flag is attained upon the issuance by the Registrar of Ships of the Certificate of Cypriot Registration (Form MS 4B).

    Parallel Registration

    An amendment of the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships, Sales and Mortgages) Law allows for the parallel - in and parallel- out registration of bareboat –chartered vessels.

    PARALLEL-IN REGISTRATION offers the possibility to a foreign flag vessel on bareboat charter to be registered parallel under the Cyprus flag for up to two years. Parallel –in Registration entails that the foreign nationality of the vessel is suspended and there is no requirement for the deletion of the vessel from the foreign registry. Parallel –in Registration is possible where the law of the country of foreign registration allows for parallel registration.

    The application for Parallel- in Registration of a vessel must be made by the bareboat charterer, qualified under the relevant Cypriot laws to own a Cypriot vessel. The following documents must be lodged with the Registrar of Ships in order for Parallel –in Registration to be attained:

    1. Certified copy of the charter party
    2. Certified written consent of the owner of the vessel
    3. Certified written consent and certificate of ownership and mortgages or other encumbrances (if any) from the maritime authorities of the country of foreign registration
    4. All documents required for permanent registration under Cypriot flag.

    During the period of Parallel –in Registration, the vessel is required to fly the Cypriot flag to the exclusion of all others and will be subject to the laws of the Republic of Cyprus. Furthermore the vessel must be marked with her name and Cypriot port of registry.

    PARALLEL-OUT REGISTRATION may be bareboat – chartered to a foreign company and become registered in parallel in a foreign register for the duration of the charter party. The approval of the Minister of Communications and Works must be obtained in order for a vessel which is flying the Cypriot flag to proceed with Parallel –out Registration, and such Parallel- out Registration  may be effective for no more than three years.


    Where 50% or more of the ownership of a vessel has been sold or transferred to a non Cypriot individual or entity, the vessel must be struck off the Register of Cypriot vessels. To this effect notifications must be filed with the Registrar of Ships or the Cypriot consul abroad.

    Additionally, the Minister of Communications and Works may instruct the Registrar of Cyprus Ships to delete the entry of a vessel in the Registry if there are sufficient reasons to believe that the vessel is being used for purposes which are contrary to the interests of the Republic of Cyprus.