Shipping Register

The International Shipping Register of Madeira ("MAR") is a credible alternative to other international registers and yet keeps the technical discipline and safety which characterises conventional shipping registers. It is not and has never been considered as a "flag of convenience".

Portugal's second Shipping Registry, based in Madeira, is known as "MAR" meaning "Sea". All vessels registered under MAR fly the Portuguese flag and all international conventions ratified by Portugal are complied with by MAR. Because MAR registered ships fly the Portuguese flag, they can be used for cabotage (coastal shipping, navigation, trade or transport) in EU countries.

Under the MIBC Legislation, vessels and yachts may be registered at MAR under the Portuguese flag, provided their activities do not amount to transportation of goods between Portuguese ports. Transportation between Portuguese ports and foreign ports is allowed. Fishing boats cannot be registered.

It is possible to register a vessel with MAR that is owned by a non resident entity. In this case, it is compulsory to appoint a local legal representative of the foreign owner and here at MMCL we are able to act in this capacity, as required by law. It is however also possible to set up a Madeira IBC Shipping company, transferring the ownership of the vessel to this entity. In this case, the wide range of tax and financial incentives available to shipping companies duly incorporated and licensed to operate within the legal framework of the MIBC, will apply on income obtained from the activities of the vessel operating outside Portuguese territorial waters.

Madeira Management has extensive experience with the registration of vessels, yachts and the management of shipping companies.

How to register

Certain documents and information regarding the ship must be submitted to the Technical Commission of MAR for analysis.

The information and documentation to be submitted shall vary depending on whether it is a temporary or a permanent registration.


The shipping registry delegates some of its functions and recognises certificates issued by specified classification societies. Among the functions that may be delegated are the supervision and enforcement of rules concerning stability, bulk cargo, on board security, as well as the issuing of international certificates concerning conventions and resolutions of the International Maritime Organisation and the OLO.

Portugal presently recognise eight classification societies who are certified to carry out their functions in the framework of MAR, they are:

  • Lloyd's Register of Shipping (LRS);
  • Bureau Veritas (BV);
  • Det Norske Veritas (DNV);
  • Registro Italiano Navale (RINA);
  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS);
  • Rinave Portuguesa (RINAVE);
  • Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK).


In assessing crew composition and minimum crew requirements the objective of the registry technical commission is to guarantee safety and the preservation of the quality of life aboard and at sea. The captain and 30% of the crew must be nationals of Europe or of PALOP countries (an organisation of Portuguese Speaking countries). Spanish owned vessels are also authorised to have crew from official Spanish-speaking countries. Crew composition requirements do not apply to yachts.

Any income received by the crew of ships registered in MAR is exempt from any form of taxation in Portugal.

Crew members and their respective employers of ships registered in MAR may adopt a voluntary insurance or social security system. They are not obliged to pay social security taxes within the normal Portuguese system.

Mortage Law

The mortgagor and the mortgagee by written agreement may choose the legal system of a particular country that shall govern the terms of the mortgage. Should such agreement not be reached, then the Portuguese law shall apply.

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