top of page



Shipowner Eligibility 

Owners need not be Portuguese citizens. A Madeiran shipping company or corporate entity can be formed, but is not required for registering a vessel 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 International Business Centre (IBC) in order to proceed with the registration of a ship. In this case, a legal representative in Madeira must be nominated with sufficient powers to assure full representation before the State and the Regional authorities.

About the Flag

An Autonomous Region of Portugal, Madeira is an island located off the coast of southwestern Europe, approximately 625 miles from Lisbon and 545 miles off the coast of Africa. Portugal is a member of the UN, NATO, the IMO, and the OECD, and it is expressly provided that all international conventions ratified by Portugal shall be complied with by Madeira. Portuguese is spoken, and the currency is the Euro.

The International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR) was established by decree in 1989. Together with the Industrial Free Zone, the Financial Services, and the International Services Centre, it comprises what is known as Madeira's International Business Centre (IBC). The IBC is not a fixed location but a concept that geographically encompasses the whole of Madeira creating a business centre. MAR has been declared as Portugal's second register and all ships joining MAR fly the Portuguese flag.

MAR, as a Portuguese register, 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. MAR is included in the White List of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding.

The law which governs Madeira ship registrations is Decree-Law no. 96/89 of the 28th of March, further amended by Decree-Law no. 393/93 of the 23rd of November and Decree-Law n. 31/97 the 28th of January. The latter Decree-Laws introduced some important modifications to the former including the authorization for the registration of pleasure yachts at the International Shipping Register of Madeira.

The Portugese Institute for Ports and Shipping (IPTM) serves as the maritime Administration for MAR. The IPTM also supervises a "conventional register," yet it is much smaller than MAR, hosting only about fifteen vessels compared to the MAR's 160 vessels.

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 Planning and Finance 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.


Full application of the tax regime of the IBC of Madeira to duly licensed shipping companies, with or without vessels registered in MAR, applies

Registration and Documentation

Permanent Registration
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 survey will be carried out before registration. A survey is also carried out 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 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.
You may start the process of provisional registration of a vessel in MAR online.

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 IPTM – The Portuguese Institute for Ports and Maritime Transportation.

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 the Portuguese Institute for Ports and Maritime Transportation (IPTM) 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.

IPTM – Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos
IPTM – The Portuguese Institute for Ports and Maritime Transportation 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 close cooperation with IPTM 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.

Bareboat Charter Registration

Vessels registered in a foreign registry but which are on bareboat charter may be dual registered for a period of five years (may be renewed)
into MAR as long as authorised by the owners, creditors, and the authorities of the country where the registration of ownership is effected. The following original documents (MAR will accept faxes or photocopies only of technical documents and labour contracts) and information
on the vessel shall be delivered prior to registration:
• Power of attorney granted by the applicant to a local legal representative, applicable in all cases that the head office or domicile of the applicant is located outside of Madeira, notarised and legalised
• Articles of Association of the applicant, when the applicant does not integrate the free trade zone of Madeira, legalised
• Bill of Sale, notarised and legalised
• Proof of License in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, when the applicant is an entity licensed in the free trade zone of Madeira
• Ownership Certificate issued by the previous registry, legalised
• Deletion Certificate or document showing the request to delete the vessel to the proper entity, legalised
• Permission granted by the mortgagees, notarised and legalised
• Permission granted by the flag state where the underlying registration is legalized
• Permission granted by the shipowner, notarized and legalized
• Bareboat charterparty
• Labor contracts
• Certificate of Classification
• Various technical certificates of the vessel

Vessels on bareboat charter which are registered in MAR may also be dual registered for a period of five years (may be renewed) into a foreign country as long as the foreign registry has requirements for dual registration which are equivalent to that of MAR. MAR Shipowners must apply to MAR for permission to bareboat charter register out of the registry

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

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 recognises seven classification societies in order to undertake some of its tasks within the framework of MAR:
• American Bureau of Shipping
• Bureau Veritas
• Det Norske Veritas
• Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
• Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
• Registro Italiano Navale
• Rinave Portuguesa

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.


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 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, 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, IPTM - Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes 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 IPTM, for analysis and decision.

IPTM 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.


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


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:
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
0.75 euros per NT
From 10,000 NT up to 20.000 NT
0.60 euros per NT
From 20,000 NT up to 30.000 NT
0.50 euros per NT
From 30,000 NT up to 40.000 NT
0.40 euros per NT
From 40,000 NT up to 50.000 NT
0.30 euros per NT
From 50,000 NT up to 60.000 NT
0.20 euros per NT
Above 60,000 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:
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 the registry's online 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.


Madeira's International Business Centre is managed and administered by S.D.M. - Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira, S.A., a private operated company that has the full support of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

S.D.M. - Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira, S.A. is committed to providing international companies, and those who work within them, with the finest standards of any centre in the European Community.

For further information you may contact S.D.M. executives directly at the following address:
S.D.M. Building, Rua da Mouraria 9, 1st floor
9000-047 Funchal

Tel: 351-291-201333
Fax: 351-291-201399



In December 2013 S.D.M. established a strategic partnership with Euromar - EU Registry, which serves as exclusive agent for the flag.

Stockholm Agreement 96
IMO Convention 48
* IMO amendments 91 
* IMO amendments 93
SOLAS Convention 74
SOLAS Protocol 78
SOLAS Protocol 88
LOAD LINES Convention 66
LOAD LINES Protocol 88
TONNAGE Convention 69
COLREG  Convention 72
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
STCW  Convention 78
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR  Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT amendments 94
INMARSAT amendments 98
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V)
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92
FUND Convention 71
FUND Protocol 92
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III)
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC  Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Madeira (Autonomous Region of Portugal)

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x
SOLAS Agreement 96
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72 x
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95 x
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76 x
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008 x
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x
London Convention 72 x
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69 d
CLC Protocol 76 x
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76 x
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003 x
NUCLEAR Convention 71
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005 x
SUA Protocol 2005 x
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96
OPRC/HNS 2000 x

x= ratification

bottom of page