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MAR, a High Quality E.U. Register 

The International Shipping Register of Madeira – MAR offers shipowners and the shipping community low operational costs yet maintaining the quality levels and the safety culture of an European Union register.
All entities undertaking the maritime transportation of persons and goods, operating from Madeira or any other jurisdiction, may register vessels in MAR, flying the Portuguese flag and having therefore full access to continental and domestic cabotage, as well as access to a competitive tax regime applicable both to vessels and shipping companies.
Commercial vessels, oil-rig platforms and commercial and pleasure yachts may be registered in MAR, benefiting from the services of the Private Commercial Register and Notary of Madeira’s IBC. 
For the convenience of shipowners and all our clients, the process of provisional registration of a vessel in MAR may now be initiated on-line.

Shipowners may also refer to our Circulars and Notices section for the latest updates, technical documentation and interpretations by the Technical Commission of MAR or by DGRM, the Portuguese maritime authority. 

The offices of the Technical Commission (TC) are open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:30 GMT +1 (summer time from 29 March to 25 October). For after hours emergency calls, the TC may be reached through mobile numbers +351 965011917 or +351 926792374. 

Operational and Tax Advantages


MAR offers several operational and tax advantages to vessels and shipowners, summarized hereinafter: 

  • E.U. register, allowing total access to continental and island cabotage within the framework of the E.U.; 
  • A very competitive social security regime which does not render mandatory the contribution by the crew members to the Portuguese social security regime. However, some form of security scheme must be in place and the crew may choose the Portuguese voluntary social security regime or any other type of protection scheme;
  • The wages of the crew are exempt from personal income tax;
  • A competitive mortgage system in which the mortgagor and the mortgagee may, by written agreement, choose the legal system of a particular country that shall govern the terms of the mortgage. The applicable law by default shall be the Portuguese.

Shipping companies

  • It is not mandatory to incorporate a company in Madeira’s IBC in order to proceed with the registration of a ship, which may be registered in the name of a company based abroad. In this case, a legal representative in Madeira must be nominated with sufficient powers to assure full representation before the State and Regional authorities;. 
  • Shipping companies based in the IBC of Madeira benefit from the application of the tax regime of the IBC of Madeira,namely reduced corporate tax rates on the profits of such entities until 2020.

Registration Formalities

Permanent Registration

MAR has a Technical Commission whose duties include the registration process and the implementation of all the safety requirements set by the applicable national regulations and international conventions. 
Various documents and information on the vessel must be submitted to the Technical Commission for analysis and initiation of the registration process. The amount of information to be provided varies depending on whether the registration is temporary or permanent. Further details may be found in our Ship Registration section or in our Shipowners Guide
The registration process is exempt from any form of taxation. The Private Commercial Registry of Madeira’s International Business Centre will be used for such purpose.

Temporary Registration

Temporary registration in MAR (bareboat charter in) is subject to authorization granted by the owners and by the competent authorities of the country where the vessel is permanently registered. 
On the other hand, vessels with permanent registration in MAR may also be temporarily registered in other countries (bareboat charter out). In such cases, authorization for the bareboat charter out will be granted by MAR. The vessel will fly that Registry’s flag and the right to fly the Portuguese flag will be suspended until the end of the charter period. Further details may be found in our Ship Registration section or in our Shipowners Guide

Requirements and Manning


There are no direct restrictions on the age of the vessels that may be registered, but the Technical Commission will decide, on a case-by-case basis, the vessels which will be accepted. 


Vessels to be registered may be subject to a previous survey, according to the Technical Commission’s decision based on the ship’s records, age and detention history. 
All vessels registered in MAR must have their relevant statutory certificates issued by one of the classification societies which have been authorized as a Portuguese Recognized Organization (RO). These entities may also perform surveys and inspections on behalf of MAR, as well as the undertaking of certain tasks. Currently, Portugal recognizes eight classification societies in order to undertake some of its tasks within the framework of MAR:
Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (LRS) Bureau Veritas (BV)
Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Rinave Portuguesa (RINAVE) ClassNKK

Other classification societies may be recognised by Portugal in the near future. 

Purchase and sale of vessels 

The purchase and sale of ships is not subject to any previous authorization. The sale becomes effective through a Bill of Sale. Furthermore, the legal representative of the seller must be granted sufficient power to act on behalf of the company. 

International Conventions adopted 

Portugal has ratified all the relevant IMO and ILO Conventions, which also fully apply to MAR and all the vessels registered at Madeira’s International Shipping Register. 

Port State Control

Ships flying the Portuguese flag (Madeira Registry included) are not targeted for inspection by the Port State Control authorities of the Paris MOU States.


The shipowner may present a manning proposal for the vessel for approval by the Technical Commission. The application must include the relevant information about the vessel and a duly justified manning proposal for the vessel.
The present regulations stipulate that the captain and 50% of the safe manning of the ship must be European, of both E.U. and non-E.U. countries, or citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries. This requirement may be eliminated whenever it is duly justified. 

Crew certification

All vessels are required to have a manning certificate issued in order to ensure that seafarers serving on board are qualified, fit and sufficient in number for the performance of their duties. The certificates of seafarers shall be issued according to the provisions of the Standards of Training Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers Convention of 1978 (STCW), as amended in 1995. 
Read more about crew certification in our Ship Registration section or in our Shipowners Guide.

Labour contracts

Labour contracts shall be signed between the seamen or unions and employer, containing the identification of the parties, the name of the vessel, the nature and duration of the intended voyage or engagement, the period that each seaman is to be on board, the title and function to be undertaken by each seaman, the wages and the agreement as to the payment of wages and the termination of the contract.

Company Formation

In order to access the regime of tax benefits applicable within the ambit of the IBC of Madeira, companies must apply for a licence, through SDM, to the Regional Government of Madeira. The licence may be requested by an existing company, in Portugal or abroad, or by a company to be incorporated. 
In case a new shipping company is formed, no minimum share capital requirements will apply and the company will not be obliged to keep its main offices in Madeira, although some form of legal representation must be kept. 
There are several management companies in Madeira able to provide full support on the incorporation process as well as other support services on any aspect of the company’s activity, namely legal advice, accountancy and consultancy. These companies also give full support on the registration of vessels in MAR.

Further information of company formation procedures are found in our Shipowners Guide.

Registration and Annual Fees

Please refer here to the table of fees which are applicable on the registration of vessels in MAR or resort to our on-line fees calculator (please note that some variations or discounts may be applicable according to the law).

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