Madeira’s International Shipping Register.

Madeira’s International Shipping Register, “MAR”, provides ship owners and shipping companies a range of benefits and tax incentives. If you own a vessel or plan to set up a shipping company in Madeira, you can expect the same level of safety and quality as other European countries, with lower operational costs.

At Madeira Company, we specialise in the formation of shipping companies within the MIBC and the registration of Vessels in MAR. We can help you with all the necessary legalities required for both permanent and temporary registration in Madeira, Portugal.

What is MAR?

MAR as it is commonly known, is the Madeira International Shipping Register. In this article, we’ll be talking about all the steps required to register a vessel in MAR, as well as information on the incorporation of shipping companies within the MIBC.

What is the MIBC?

The Madeira International Business Centre offers international companies a range of tax benefits within a regulated jurisdiction. You can read more about the MIBC, or Zona Franca da Madeira, as it is also referred to in our dedicated article here.

The technical commission of MAR

MAR has a technical commission, comprised of a president appointed by the Portuguese Ministry of Transport, a representative of RAM (Autonomous Region of Madeira), and a representative of DGRM – The Portuguese Agency for Ports and Maritime Affairs. Their duties include the registration of commercial vessels, yachts, establishing Crew Compositions and issuing on-board documentation.

DGRM – Direção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos   

The Portuguese Agency for Ports and Maritime Affairs is the authority responsible for the supervision, regulation, and inspection of the maritime sector in Portugal. They are also involved in the management and administration of Ports under their jurisdiction. DGRM work in conjunction with the Technical Commission of MAR to deliver crew competency certificates and vessel surveys in MAR.

About MAR

Any entity undertaking the maritime transportation of persons and goods can register in MAR. This allows them to fly the Portuguese flag and have access to continental and domestic cabotage. Commercial vessels, Oil Rig Platforms and commercial pleasure yachts may be registered in MAR, and benefit for the Private Commercial Register and Notary of Madeira’s IBC.

Tax Regime

In order to understand the benefits of registering your vessel in MAR, we’ll first talk about the Tax and VAT regime that offers companies, ship owners and crew substantial savings.

  1. Vessels & Yachts

Foreign crew working aboard commercial vessels and yachts registered in MAR are not required to contribute to Portuguese Social Security, provided they have alternative protection. Portuguese residents or Nationals are mandatorily covered by the general regime of Portuguese Social Security. A contribution of 2.7% (2% by the company and 0.7% by the employee) is applicable.

The salary of crew members of commercial vessels and yachts in MAR are exempt from Personal Income Tax.

  1. Shipping companies

It is not mandatory to incorporate a company in the MIBC to register a vessel in MAR, although appropriate legal representation needs to be acquired with to assure full representation before the Regional Authorities. If a company is formed, they can then benefit from tax regime of the MIBC

Shipping companies registered in the MIBC benefit from a Corporate Income Tax Rate of 5%. 0% tax is levied on any dividends or capital gains and an 80% exemption is available on on Stamp Duty, Municipal Property tax and Property Transfer tax.

To qualify for the tax regime, companies must comply with the requirements of the MIBC. These include the creation of at least one job for a Portuguese national or resident in the first six months and the investment of 75 thousand euros in the first two years of operation. If six or more jobs are created, then the required invest of 75k is no-longer necessary.


If the yacht registered in MAR is engaged in charter activities, there will be no charge of VAT on importation or acquisition, repair, or maintenance of the vessel.    

What documentation is required to register in MAR?

Several forms and documentation are required to be submitted to the Technical Commission of MAR for analysis before the registration can begin. These include:

  • Owner and/or operator’s contracts, mortgages or other liens relating to the vessel
  • Purchase certificate of the vessel (bill of sale)
  • Vessel’s name and two alternative names
  • Application of the attributions of a call sign as well as description of communication equipment
  • Certified copy of the register Tonnage Certificate
  • Name of classification society
  • Vessel’s characteristics and propulsion system
  • Shipyard and year of construction
  • Copies of the vessel’s certificates including those of the classification society
  • Copy of the ship Station License
  • Tonnage measurement data

A decision will be made by the Technical Commission of MAR if a survey of the ship is required, depending on the ships record, age, and detention history. A survey will also be carried out if the is an absence of either:

  • Transcript of registry (from any previous registry)
  • Deletion Certificate

Permanent Registration

All vessels must provide proof of deletion of the previous vessel registration. A document issued by a competent maritime authority, stating the deletion of the previous registration has begun, may also be accepted by MAR.

The following legal documents are required for permanent registration in MAR

  1. Power of attorney granted by the applicant to a local legal representation
  • Applicable when the domicile or the head office of the applicant is located outside RAM
  • Original authenticated copy
  • Signatures recognised by notary certifying the authority of the act according to no. and no 3 of article 11, pf DL no. 96/89, the 28th of March
  • Legalised or certified according to the Hague convention of 1961
  1. Bill of Sale
  • Signed by the seller in the presence of a notary
  • Original authenticated copy
  • Legalised or certified according to the Hague convention of 1961 with certified translation
  1. Certificate issued by the previous registry
  • Original or authenticated copy
  • Issued for less than 6 months
  1. Deletion Certificate
  • Original or authenticated copy
  • Legalised or certified according to the Hague convention of 1961 with certified translation
  • It may be temporarily replaced by documentation confirming the deletion request
  1. Permission granted by the mortgages
  • In case of any mortgage
  • Original or authenticated copy
  • Legalised or certified according to the Hague convention of 1961 with certified translation
  • Signature recognised by notary certifying the authority for the act.

Technical Documentation

The following technical information is required for permanent registration of a vessel in MAR:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Copies of the existing statutory certificate. Vessels with a previous registration under another flag administration are also required to submit existing statutory certificates, as well as any associated exemption certificates, statements of equivalency and a list of limitations approved by the previous flag administration.

If your vessel is newly built, it is recommended that you advise MAR at the earliest opportunity of any applicable exemptions or equivalencies to the relevant instruments.

  • Class Certificate (Hull and Machinery Annex)
  • EPIRB Registration Card (duly filled, annex B)
  • Radio Application form (duly filled annex C)
  • Simple copy of the EPIRB programming report, with the new codes
  • Simple copy of the Radio Accounting Contract with an entity recognised by the Portuguese administration (annex D)
  • Simple cope of the Declaration of Company – ISM code (annex E)
  • Simple copy of the complete CSR file – for new buildings a CSR application form (annex F)
  • Endorsement of the certificate of competency of foreign masters and officers serving onboard a Portuguese flag vessel (annex G)
  • Deactivation and Activation of INMARSAT number (annex H)
  • Blue Card – for the issuance of the CLC certificate
  • Initial Survey report

At the point of registration, MAR will issue the following documents to be kept onboard permanently:

  • Provisional Certificate of Registry (valid for three months) or a Temporary Registration Certificate.
  • Ship Station License
  • Minimum Safe Manning Document and Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR)
  • CLC, if applicable
  • Relevant MAR Legislation
  • Log Book (Navigation)
  • Log Book (Engine)
  • Oil Record Book (Part 1 & 2)
  • Cargo Record Book
  • Garbage Record Book
  • GMDSS Radio Station Log Book
  • Register of Ship’s Lifting Appliances and Cargo Handling Gear
  • Crew List
  • Certificates of Service and instructions for embarkation/disembarkation of crew

Temporary Registration

Vessels may also be temporarily registered in MAR through Bareboat Charter In. This is subject to authorisation granted by both the owners and the competent authorities of the country where the vessel is permanently located. Portuguese Law allows for a vessel to be temporarily registered in MAR for a maximum period of five years, although there is a provision to extend the registration for another five years if both parties agree.

The following legal documentation is required for the temporary registration (flagging-in) of a vessel in MAR:

  1. Bareboat Charter
  • Original or certified copy signed by both parties (owner and charterer) and certified by a public Notary mentioning
  • Name of the Vessel
  • Name and address of the parties
  • Charter Period
  • Existence/non-existence of mortgages on the vessel.
  1. Commercial Certificate of the Charterer
    • Original or Certified Copy when the company is located outside of Madeira
    • A simple copy when the company is incorporated within the MIBC
  2. Power of attorney granted by the charterer to a local legal representative
  • Applicable when the domicile or the head office of the charterer is located outside of Madeira
  • Certified by a public notary and signed on behalf of the company
  • Signatures recognised by notary certifying the authority for the act according no.2 and no.3 of article 11 of DL no.96/89, of the 28th of March
  1. Permission of the Permanent Registry for the registration of the vessel in MAR
  2. Permission granted by the mortgagee(s) in case of any mortgage

Deletion of temporary registration

When the temporary registration is due to expire and is not to be renewed, MAR will automatically consider the temporary registration deleted.

Bareboat Charter Out

Vessels with permanent registration in MAR may be temporarily registered in other countries (bareboat charter out). In these cases, authorisation for the bareboat charter out will be granted by MAR. The rights for that vessel to fly the Portuguese flag will be suspended for the duration of the charter period.

Other Requirements

Age – There are no direct age restrictions on vessels that may be registered, but the technical commission will decide which vessels will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Surveys – Vessels must be classified by one of the officially recognised organisations/approved classification:

ABS – American Bureau of Shipping LRS – Lloyds Register of Shipping
BV – Bureau Veritas RINA – Registration Italiano Navale
DNV – Det Norske Veritas RINAVE Portuguesa
GL – Germanisher Lloyd ClassNKK

*Other classification societies may be included when recognised by the Portuguese Government.    

Citizenship requirements

30% of the safe manning of the vessel must be both European, or both EU and non-EU countries, or citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries. This requirement can be waived when there is a legitimate justification.

Registration Fees

At the point of registration, a flat rate of €1,800 is charged, plus a variable rate depending of the Net Tonnage (NT) of the vessel.

Net Tonnage Fee
Up to 250 NT €225.00
From 250 NT to 2,500 NT €0.90 per NT
From 2,500 NT to 10,000 NT €0.70 per NT
From 10,000 NT to 20,000 NT €0.50 per NT
From 20,000 NT to 30,000 NT €0.30 per NT
Above 30,000 NT €0.10 per NT

*NT = Net Tonnage

An annual fee is applicable for the duration of the registration, comprised of €1,400 plus a variable rate dependent of the Net Tonnage of the vessel.

Net Tonnage Fee
Up to 250 NT €200.00
From 250 NT to 2,500 NT €0.80 per NT
From 2,500 NT to 20,000 NT €0.40 per NT
Above 20,000 €0.25 per NT

*NT = Net Tonnage

Other fees may also be applicable for the recognition and renewal of any documents by the Technical Commission of MAR, as well as any inspections of registered vessels.

Shipping companies incorporated in MIBC are subject to an annual license of €1,000 and an operating fee of €1,800.

Why should you work with Madeira Company?

Speak to a member of the Madeira Company team if you are planning to register a vessel or incorporate a shipping company in Madeira and the MIBC. Our experts can competently guide you through the process, work with you to complete and file the necessary documentation and ensure your requirements are met in a timely manner. Get in touch today to find out more.

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