Ships and Shipping Companies


MAR offers a very competitive tax regime, applicable to both vessels and shipping companies, full access to E.U. cabotage and full application of the relevant international maritime conventions.


MAR - Madeira's International Shipping Register

The International Shipping Register of Madeira – MAR is Portugal’s international shipping register and is among the international registers of the highest quality, having guaranteed adequate measures to ensure an efficient surveillance of all vessels registered.

All international conventions ratified by Portugal are fully applicable to and respected by MAR and, as a result, MAR has never been considered as a “flag of convenience”.

With the exception of fishing vessels, MAR accepts the registration of all types of commercial vessels, including oil rig platforms, as well as commercial and pleasure yachts

Madeira’s Register also offers a very competitive tax regime, applicable to both vessels and shipping companies licensed within the legal framework of the International Business Centre of Madeira.

For the convenience of our clients, the process of provisional registration of a vessel in MAR may now be initiated on-line.


Ship Register Operational and Tax Advantages

MAR offers specific operational advantages as well as a very attractive tax regime which will apply to both vessels and shipping companies formed in the IBC of Madeira, summarized hereinafter:


  • Full access to European continental and island cabotage as a result of MAR's status as an E.U. Register;
  • High-quality Register, with full application of all international ILO and IMO Conventions on safety, security, and quality of life on board, including MLC 2006;
  • A very competitive social security regime that exempts shipping companies with vessels registered in MAR and their respective non-Portuguese crew from contributing to the Portuguese social security regime. However, some form of insurance must be guaranteed under any other type of protection scheme. In addition, the crew may opt-in for the Portuguese voluntary social security regime as a complement for disability, old age, and death.;
  • The wages of the crew of commercial vessels and yachts registered in MAR are also exempt from personal income tax, according to the tax regime of the IBC of Madeira;
  • A very flexible and competitive mortgage system applies, allowing the mortgagor and the mortgagee to choose, by written agreement, the legal system of a particular country that shall govern the terms of the mortgage. In the lack of an agreement, the Portuguese mortgage law shall be applicable.

Shipping companies

  • Full application of the tax regime of the IBC of Madeira to duly licensed shipping companies, with or without vessels registered in MAR;
  • Vessels registered in Madeira may be owned and managed by a company based abroad, not being mandatory to incorporate a company in Madeira’s IBC to proceed with the registration of a ship. In this case, a legal representative in Madeira must be nominated with sufficient powers to ensure full representation before the State and the Regional authorities.

Entities Involved in the Registration Process

The Technical Commission of MAR

MAR has a Technical Commission (TC) made up by a President, directly appointed by the Portuguese Ministry of Transportation, a representative of the Madeira Autonomous Region and a representative of the DGRM – The Portuguese Maritime Authority.

The duties of the TC include the registration process and to assure that all registered vessels abide by all the safety requirements established by the applicable international conventions.

The TC is also responsible for the establishment of the crew composition and for the submission of the ship registration files to the private Commercial Registry of the IBC of Madeira for the definitive commercial registration of the vessel.

The TC shall co-ordinate with DGRM the control and inspection of technical aspects relating to the ships registered in MAR, with reference to the safety of navigation, Safety of Life at Sea, Prevention of Marine Pollution, seafarers working conditions and their standards of training.

The maritime background and technical expertise of all members of the TC assures the full understanding of the maritime transportation business and the implementation of fast procedures.

The offices of the 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 00 351 965011917 or 00 351 926792374.

DGRM - Direcção Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos

DGRM – The Portuguese Agency for Ports and Maritime Affairs is the Portuguese authority responsible for the supervision, regulation and inspection of the maritime sector, as well as for the management and administration of the ports under its jurisdiction. The Technical Commission of MAR works in articulation with DGRM in what regards the recognition of crew competency certificates, as well as on the carrying out of surveys to vessels registered in MAR.

The role of S.D.M.

Amongst other responsibilities, S.D.M. – Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira, S.A. is responsible for the promotion and administration of the International Shipping Register of Madeira – MAR.

The licensing process for the incorporation of shipping companies within the legal framework of the IBC of Madeira is carried out through S.D.M., which will issue the respective licence after authorization granted by the Regional Government of Madeira. S.D.M. is also responsible for collecting the fees due to the Regional Government of Madeira by companies licensed in the IBC of Madeira and vessels registered in MAR.

In addition, institutional and operational support is provided by S.D.M. by acting as a one-stop-shop and intermediary between the companies and shipowners and all the relevant local entities. A network of representative offices around the world has been established, providing support since the early stages of the registration of vessels and yachts in MAR or company incorporation in the IBC of Madeira.

Partnership between SDM and EUROMAR


SDM has established a partnership agreement with Euromar with the objective to enhance the promotion of MAR in key shipping markets. EUROMAR (European Mar) is a Portuguese company, of German origin, based in Funchal / Madeira, owned and managed by Dr. Albrecht Gundermann and Captn. Jorg Molzahn, both with substantial experience in shipping matters.

EUROMAR supports SDM's promotional efforts and provides a link between the shipowners and responsible Portuguese administrative bodies, the Technical Commission of MAR and SDM.

Today EUROMAR is operating offices in Funchal, Lisbon, Hamburg and Athens to support international shipping companies who operate ships under the Portuguese flag.

More information can be found on


Registration Formalities

Various documents and information on the vessel must be submitted to MAR’s Technical Commission for analysis and initiation of the registration process, including the following:

  • 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 other alternative names;
  • Application for the attribution 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 Licence;
  • Tonnage measurement data.

The Technical Commission of MAR will decide, according to the ship’s records, age and detention history, if a vessel is acceptable for registration and if a survey must be carried out before registration. A survey is also mandatory in the absence of a transcript of registry (from any previous registration) or a Deletion certificate.

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. Although the Portuguese law allows the bareboat registration for five (5) years maximum, MAR can make the registration for five (5) plus another five (5) years (5+5), if agreed by the parties.

The application form shall be addressed to the Technical Commission with indication of the charter period.

On the absence of a request by the charterer to renew the registration, near the expiry date of the charter period MAR will automatically consider such registration deleted.

On the other hand, if the charter period is still ruling, but the parties wish to delete the registration, they can do so by signing an addendum to the bareboat charter, where both parties agree to delete such registration.

Vessels with permanent registration in MAR may 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.

The application form shall be addressed to the Technical Commission of the International Shipping Register of Madeira – MAR requesting the temporary registration of the vessel under another flag.

It is now possible to start the process of provisional registration of a vessel in MAR on-line.

Requirements and General Information


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:

ABS – American Bureau of Shipping
BV – Bureau Veritas
ClassNK – Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
DNV GL - Det Norske Veritas DNV/Germanischer Lloyd
LR – Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
RINA – Registro Italiano Navale
KR - Korean Register of Shipping
CCS - Chinese Classification Society

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

Among the tasks which may be delegated in addition to the surveys, are the definition of norms concerning stability, bulk cargo, on board security as well as other documents such as the issuing of international certificates concerning conventions and resolutions by the IMO and the ILO.

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. The signature of the seller must be certified in the presence of a public notary.

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.

Manning and Crew Certification

Safe manning and crew composition

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, namely its technical characteristics, the equipment, the area of operation, the general arrangement and safety plans, the stability book and a duly justified manning proposal for the vessel.

The present regulations stipulate that 30% 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, allowing therefore for a flexible manning. 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.

According to the established under regulation I/10 of the referred Convention, the process of recognition of certificates to foreign seafarers is subject to the celebration of a Protocol between the Maritime Administrations involved, e.g., the one who recognises and the other who issues the certificate.

In Portugal, DGRM – Direcção Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos is the entity in charge of the compliance of the arrangements determined on STCW 78/95 Convention. The process of recognition shall be addressed, directed and requested directly to DGRM, for analysis and decision.

DGRM commits itself to recognise certificates of competency of seafarers from European Union countries and countries with whom Portugal has an agreement for recognition of certificates.

Procedures and application forms are available here.

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 seamen, the wages and the agreement as to the payment of wages and the termination of the contract.

International Conventions Adopted

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

IMO Conventions:

  • IMO Convention 48, amendments 91, amendments 93
  • SOLAS Convention 74, Protocol 78, Protocol 88
  • LOAD LINES Convention 66, Protocol 88
  • TONNAGE Convention 69
  • COLREG Convention 72
  • CSC Convention 72
  • STCW Convention 78, amendments 91
  • SAR Convention 79
  • INMARSAT Convention 76, OA 76, amendments 94, amendments 98
  • FACILITATION Convention 65
  • MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II; Annex III; Annex IV; Annex V) Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
  • London Convention 72
  • INTERVENTION Convention 69, Protocol 73
  • CLC Convention 69, Protocol 76, Protocol 92
  • FUND Convention 71, Protocol 76, Protocol 92, Protocol 2003
  • SUA Convention 88, Protocol 88
  • OPRC Convention 90
  • OPRC/HNS 2000

ILO Conventions

  • C. 8 Unemployment Indemnity (Shipwreck) Convention, 1920 (No. 8)
  • C. 22 Seamen's Articles of Agreement Convention, 1926 (No. 22)
  • C. 23 Repatriation of Seamen Convention, 1926 (No. 23)
  • C. 68 Food and Catering (Ships' Crews) Convention, 1946 (No. 68)
  • C. 69 Certification of Ships' Cooks Convention, 1946 (No. 69)
  • C. 73 Medical Examination (Seafarers) Convention, 1946 (No. 73)
  • C. 74 Certification of Able Seamen Convention, 1946 (No. 74)
  • C. 92 Accommodation of Crews Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 92)
  • C. 108 Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention, 1958 (No. 108)
  • C. 135 Workers' Representatives Convention, 1971 (No. 135)
  • C. 137 Dock Work Convention, 1973 (No. 137)
  • C. 145 Continuity of Employment (Seafarers) Convention, 1976 (No. 145)
  • C. 146 Seafarers' Annual Leave with Pay Convention, 1976 (No. 146)
  • C. 147 Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976
  • MLC 2006

Company Formation

All types of companies and other forms of corporate representation, such as branches, agencies or offices, foreseen in Portuguese company law, may set up in the IBC of Madeira to carry out the activity of maritime transportation and other shipping related activities.

In order to access the regime of tax benefits applicable within the ambit of the IBC of Madeira, companies are required to be licensed. The licence application must be submitted to S.D.M., in two copies, addressed to the Cabinet of the Regional Secretary for Finance and Public Administration of 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. The incorporation procedures are similar to those applicable to any other Portuguese company. Shipping companies operating within the legal framework of Madeira's IBC are not obliged to keep their main offices in Madeira, although some form of legal representation must be kept in the island. In order to speed up the process, a Private Commercial Registry has been created for such purpose.

In the case of a successful application, the licence is deemed to be granted in favour of the company once the applicant furnishes proof of the formation and registration of such company. All documents in support of the licence application must be duly translated into Portuguese and legalised.

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 advise, accountancy and consultancy. These companies also give full support on the registration of vessels in MAR.

Registration and Annual Fees


Upon registration, vessels will be subject to a fixed fee in the amount of 1,800 euros plus a variable fee calculated according to the net tonnage:

Scale Fee per Scale
Up to 250 NT 225 Euros
From 250 NT up to 2.500 NT 0.90 euros per NT
From 2,500 NT up to 10.000 NT 0.70 euros per NT
From 10,000 NT up to 20.000 NT 0.50 euros per NT
From 20,000 NT up to 30.000 NT 0.30 euros per NT
Above 30,000 NT 0.10 euros per NT

NT = Net tonnage

The annual fee comprises a fixed fee of 1,400 euros plus a variable fee calculated according to the following scale:

Scale Fee per Scale
Up to 250 NT 200 Euros
From 250 NT up to 2.500 NT 0.80 euros per NT
From 2,500 NT up to 20.000 NT 0.40 euros per NT
Above 20.000 NT 0.25 euros per NT

NT = Net tonnage

The fees due for passenger vessels, tug boats and other auxiliary embarkations are those stated above, increased by 15% and 30% on the registration and annual fees, respectively.

Other fees will be applicable on the issue, recognition or renewal by the Technical Commission of MAR of various documents, declarations and certificates, as well as for the carrying out of inspections aboard vessels registered in MAR.

You may also resort to our on-line fees calculator (please note that some variations or discounts may be applicable according to the law).

Shipping Companies

Shipping companies incorporated in Madeira’s IBC will be subject to a licence and annual operating fees of, respectively, 1,000 euros and 1,800 euros.


FaLang translation system by Faboba

MAR Fees Calculator