Legal Guide SHIPPING IN CYPRUS

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1 Legal Guide SHIPPING IN CYPRUS 1 Introduction Cyprus is considered as an international maritime centre and offers significant incentives for the registration of vessels under the Cyprus flag. In addition, some of the world s largest international ship management companies are based in Cyprus. 2 Tax and other incentives for the shipping industry (a) Ship owners: (i) There is exemption from any Cyprus income and corporation tax on: the income of a ship owner of a Cyprus ship resulting from the operation of such ship in any shipping enterprise dividends that are paid directly or indirectly from the profits resulting from (1) above. (ii) No special defence contribution is payable on dividends paid by ship owning companies. (iii) No capital gains tax is imposed on the profits resulting from the sale of a Cyprus ship or from the sale or transfer of shares of a Cyprus ship owning company. (iv) There is a reduction on tonnage tax where a Cyprus ship management company manages the ship. (b) Ship managers: (i) They are subject to a special ship management tax which is calculated at ¼ of the rates applicable for tonnage tax. (ii) They may elect to be taxed under the Income Tax Law instead, at a rate of 4.25% on taxable profit determined in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards. (iii) No special defence contribution is levied on dividends paid by ship management companies. 6 Theotoki str., Office 301, 1055 Nicosia, Cyprus P.O.Box 26820, 1648 Nicosia, Cyprus Tel , Fax

2 (iv) No capital gains tax is imposed on the sale of shares of a ship management company. (c) Crew earnings: The earnings of the crew of a Cyprus ship are exempt from Cyprus income tax. In addition, non-cypriot crew members enjoy total tax exemption, if this is provided by any applicable double taxation treaty and the domestic legislation in their home countries. 3 Ship registration (a) Ownership conditions: A vessel may be registered in Cyprus provided that: (i) more than 50% of the shares of the ship are owned by: Cypriot citizens; or citizens of another member state of the European Union, who if they are not permanent residents of Cyprus have appointed an authorised representative in Cyprus; or (ii) 100% of the shares of the ship are owned by one of more corporations which have been established and operate: in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Cyprus and have their registered office within Cyprus; in accordance with the laws of any other member state of the European Union and have their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the European Union and which will have either appointed an authorised representative in Cyprus or the management of the ship is entrusted in full to a Cypriot or European Union ship management company having its place of business in Cyprus; or outside Cyprus or outside any other member state but of the European Union controlled by Cypriot citizens or citizens of other member states and have either appointed an authorised representative in Cyprus or the management of the ship is entrusted in full to a Cypriot or a European Union ship management company having its place of business in Cyprus. The corporation is deemed to be controlled by Cypriots or citizens of any other member states when more than fifty percent of its shares are owned by Cypriots or citizens of any other member states or when the majority of the directors of the corporation are Cypriot citizens or citizens of any other member state.

3 (b) Government policy on the age limit for registration of vessels in Cyprus: Vessels of any size and type having an age not exceeding 15 years, except cargo vessels with a gross tonnage less than 1000, passenger vessels, fishing vessels, coastal passenger and small passenger vessels, may be registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships or the Special Book of Parallel Registration as long as they comply with the provisions contained in the merchant shipping legislation and the circulars of the Department of Merchant Shipping. Vessels over 15 years of age, cargo vessels with a gross tonnage less than 1000, passenger vessels, fishing vessels, coastal passenger and small passenger vessels, may be registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships or the Special Book of Parallel Registration under additional conditions, which must be fulfilled concurrently with the submission of the application for registration or soon after registration and must be complied with at all times while the vessel remains registered, irrespective of any subsequent transfer of ownership. Notwithstanding the above, the owner/bareboat charterer of a vessel registered under the Cyprus flag, automatically undertakes that whenever the Department of Merchant Shipping (hereinafter the Department ) deems necessary to have the vessel inspected by its own surveyors, as a result of identified deficiencies or an alleged serious violation of international conventions or European Union instruments, he will make the vessel available for inspection, at his expense, in order for the Department to determine whether the vessel meets the applicable statutory requirements. Vessels of any age constructed exclusively for inland waterway navigation are not accepted for registration in the Cyprus Registry. Vessels banned by any Memorandum of Understanding on port state control or a port state on grounds of safety or pollution prevention, are not accepted for registration in the Cyprus Registry. Vessels detained by port state control at least 3 times within the last 2 years prior to the date of application for registration are not accepted for registration in the Cyprus Registry The age of a vessel is calculated by deducting the year when the keel was laid from the year when the application for registration of the vessel was filed with the Registrar of Cyprus Ships. The year of major conversion or reconstruction of a vessel will be taken into account for the calculation of its age provided that on the date of the conversion or reconstruction, the vessel complies with all the provisions of the international conventions as a new vessel.

4 (c) Specific requirements: (i) Language of supporting documentation: Cypriot legislation provides that all documents which refer to Cyprus ships (i.e. including documents for their registration) are admissible provided that they are drawn up in a language comprehensible to the competent officers of the Department of Merchant Shipping. In practice, most of the documents are admissible in the English language. (ii) Ownership: The application for registration must be accompanied by documents attesting ownership and compliance with the various conditions which need to be fulfilled at the time of the provisional registration, the direct permanent registration or the parallel-in registration, as the case may be. (iii) Entry/occasional inspection: The entry/occasional inspection is carried out by the surveyors of the Department of Merchant Shipping at the expense of the shipowner/bareboat charterer. The entry inspection of a vessel acquired by a person qualified to own a Cyprus vessel should be carried out at the latest within three months from the date of provisional or parallel-in registration, or within one month from the date of permanent registration, if effected directly. The annual inspection of passenger vessels should be carried out within three months before or after the anniversary date of the registration of the vessel, unless alternative arrangements are agreed with the Department of Merchant Shipping, to take place during dry-docking or before re-activation, after winter laid-up period, or during planned maintenance. (iv) Management and operation of a vessel: The management and operation of a vessel is evidenced by the Joint Declaration on the Operation of a Ship (Form ISM.01 Revision 2) of the Department of Merchant Shipping. A vessel is considered as managed and operated by a ship management company if that company holds, or is to be issued by or on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus with a valid, for the type of the vessel, Document of Compliance. (DoC) or Interim DoC and the vessel is to be issued with a Safety Management Certificate (SMC) or Interim SMC by or on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, indicating that it is operated by the said company. Alternatively, the management of a vessel shall be proved by an audit of the management company carried out to the satisfaction of the Department of Merchant Shipping.

5 Such audit shall be carried out to the extent possible in accordance with the requirements of the ISM Code. (v) Assessment and certification under SOLAS 74 and the ISM Code: The entry into force of Chapter IX of SOLAS 74, as from 1st July 2002, made the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) mandatory for all vessels, irrespective of type, of 500 gross tonnage and upwards. The management companies must hold a valid Document of Compliance (DoC) and each vessel of 500 gross tons and upwards should be provided with a valid Safety Management Certificate (SMC). (vi) Document for Safe Manning: Every Cyprus ship should be in possession of a valid document of safe manning specifying the number and composition of her complement. Owners of Cyprus ships should apply to the Department of Merchant Shipping requesting the issue of a document of safe manning. 4 Provisional registration Cypriot merchant shipping legislation allows for the provisional registration of a vessel (if at the time of registration the vessel is situated at a port outside the Republic and provided it was not previously a Cyprus ship) and most owners usually opt to have their ship provisionally registered first. This will allow them time (up to 9 months, including a 3 month extension) during which they will be able to complete the administrative formalities for permanent registration. The application for registration of a ship under the Cyprus flag must be made by a local lawyer to the Minister of Communications and Works through the Registrar of Cyprus Ships. In practice, the Registrar will also accept the submission of applications for registration of ships on behalf of companies under formation, so that the incorporation of the company and registration of the ship can progress simultaneously. However the company must be duly incorporated prior to the registration of the vessel. A ship may be provisionally registered under the Cyprus flag either in Limassol, by the Registrar of Cyprus Ships or at any diplomatic mission or consular post of the Republic of Cyprus abroad (hereinafter referred to as "consular officer") who will act on instructions issued by the Registrar of Cyprus Ships. At the time of her provisional registration under the Cyprus flag a ship must be at a port so that she can be surveyed and certified on behalf of the Cypriot government. The presence of the ship at the port or place where the provisional registration will be effected is not necessary.

6 5 Permanent registration The permanent registration of a provisionally registered vessel must be effected within 6 months (or 9 months if the 3 month extension has been obtained) from the date on which she was provisionally registered. 6 Parallel registration Under Cypriot legislation parallel (bareboat) registration of vessels is possible. The legislation provides for the two forms of internationally accepted bareboat registration: Parallel-in registration and Parallel-out registration. These two options offer some very interesting opportunities for leaseback, hire purchase and finance arrangements. Parallel (bareboat) registration of vessels under the Cyprus regime may be effected with more than 20 states whose legislation is compatible with Cyprus legislation. (a) Parallel-in registration: Parallel-in registration offers the possibility to a foreign flag vessel on bareboat charter to a person (legal or physical, qualified to own a Cyprus vessel) to be registered in parallel under the Cyprus flag for a period, usually 2 years, which is renewable. Under this type of registration, the deletion of the registration in the foreign register is not required, but the foreign nationality is suspended and the foreign registry is operative only with respect to the ownership and encumbrances status of the ship. The law of the country of the foreign registry must allow the parallel registration of the ships registered in its register. Vessels registered parallel-in in the Register of Cyprus Ships must hoist the Cyprus flag and are not allowed to use the flag of the country of the foreign registry. The port of registry marked on the stern of the ship must be LIMASSOL (LEMESOS) and not that of the foreign registry. (b) Parallel-out registration: Cyprus ships may be bareboat chartered to a foreign person or company and registered parallel-out in a foreign register for the duration of the charter party. This so called Parallel-out registration allows the financing of a ship and her mortgaging under the Cyprus flag and her registration in a foreign registry through a bareboat charter arrangement. The parallel-out registration of a Cyprus ship is possible if she is bareboat chartered to a foreign individual or corporation and the law of the country of the foreign registry allows the parallel registration of vessels of another registry, under

7 prerequisite conditions similar to those set out for the parallel-in registration of ships in the Register of Cyprus Ships. This type of registration is possible for Cyprus ships which are provisionally or permanently registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships. The parallel-out registration of a Cyprus ship must be approved by the Minister of Communications and Works. Cyprus vessels registered parallel-out must hoist the flag of the foreign registry and cannot use the Cyprus flag. Also, the port of registry marked on the stern of the vessel must be that of the foreign registry. 7 Mortgages Once a ship has been registered under the Cyprus flag, a mortgage can be created thereby securing a loan or other financial obligations on conditions agreed to by the parties, without the need for exchange control permission. The creation of a mortgage under Cypriot laws is not allowed on vessels registered parallel-in in the Register of Cyprus Ships. A mortgage once created must be deposited with the Registrar of Cyprus Ships or with a consular officer on the instructions of the Registrar. Whether deposited with the Registrar or with a consular officer, the mortgage is recorded thereafter in the Register as from the date and time of its deposit and remains an encumbrance on the vessel until discharged by the mortgagees. A mortgage may be created independently of whether the ship is provisionally or permanently registered. If the ship on which a mortgage was created belongs to a Cypriot company, the mortgage will also have to be registered with the Registrar of Companies within a maximum period of 42 days after its creation. The mortgagee s security is protected in the case of liquidation of the shipowning company. Transfer of a mortgage may be affected by completing the statutory form of transfer and submitting it to the Registrar of Cyprus Ships or to a consular officer. In order to discharge a mortgage, a memorandum of discharge will need to be duly executed by the mortgagee. It will then have to be attested and delivered to the Registrar of Cyprus Ships or a consular officer on the instructions of the Registrar. Note: The information contained in this Legal Guide is correct as at the date hereof. This Legal Guide is only intended as a brief introduction to the particular subject. Detailed specialist advice should be taken prior to taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the information contained in this publication. For further information regarding our company incorporation services, please contact: Mr Christodoulos Ellinas, Tel: Fax:

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