Department of Merchant Shipping in Cyprus - The Department of Merchant Shipping of the Ministry of Communications and Works is responsible for the development of maritime activities which include: registration of ships, administration and enforcement of the Merchant Shipping Laws, control of shipping and enforcement of international conventions ratified by the Government of Cyprus, investigation of accidents involving Cyprus ships or seamen serving on those ships or foreign ships sailing within the territorial waters of the Republic, resolving labor disputes on board Cyprus ships and training and certification of seafarers. The Department has established Maritime Offices in Piraeus, London, New York, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

The sixth largest merchant fleet in the world - The Cyprus Registry has shown phenomenal growth in the last twenty years. In the early eighties Cyprus ranked thirty-second on the list of leading maritime nations. It now ranks sixth with a merchant fleet exceeding 2000 vessels of 24 million gross tons.

As regards the further development of Cyprus merchant shipping and the enhancement of its international reputation as a maritime flag, the government has concluded cooperation agreements on merchant shipping with other countries. It also participates as a full member in the activities of all international organizations, which are involved in the area of shipping. Cyprus has also ratified several international conventions, which are in force all over the world.

Cyprus is considered as one of the leading third-party ship management centers in the world. The island's strategic location, which is at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa), together with a unique package of advantages such as the legal system, high level of professionalism in the legal and accounting sectors, excellent banking services, telecommunications and air links to all important destinations has enabled Cyprus to play a prominent role in its success as an international business centre, including shipping related activities.

Furthermore, the government has enacted legislation containing especially favorable provisions for shipping companies including tax exemptions for the income derived from the operation of ships, no tax on profits from the operation of Cyprus vessels or on dividends received from a ship owning company, no capital gains tax on the sale or transfer of a Cypriot vessel or the shares of a ship owning company.

Cyprus Government policy on maritime safety - The main efforts of the Department of Merchant Shipping are presently focused on the improvement of safety standards and conditions of living and working of seamen on board Cyprus ships in accordance with international conventions currently in force, as well as the continuous improvement of the existing infrastructure, the incentives available to both residents and non-residents and the enhancement of the international reputation of the Cyprus flag as a maritime flag.

Substantial progress has been made by Cyprus in respect of the detentions of Cyprus flag vessels. The percentage of Cyprus flag ships detained has shown a steady downward trend during the last years. A downward trend was also noted in the number of casualties reported.

Legislative Harmonization - Cyprus attaches particular importance on maritime safety and has completed a substantial amount of work for the purpose of harmonizing its legislation, in this respect, with the European Acquis (a total of 35 instruments) and its effective implementation.

Contribution to the Cyprus Economy - The political and economical contribution of Merchant Shipping is of great importance. Through Shipping, Cyprus has distinguished itself by achieving remarkable international ranking and recognition far beyond its boundaries.

Cyprus shipping constitutes approximately 2% of the Gross Domestic Product with an overall contribution in the year 1999, of CY 170 million. The employment in shipping activities amounts to 3500 persons, representing 2% of the total gainfully employed population. The total revenue of Cyprus Maritime Administration for the year 2003 was around 5.3 millions which mainly consists of tonnage tax from ship owning and ship management companies, registration fees and issue of shipping documents.

Marine Training Schools in Cyprus - In Cyprus there are, at present, two training institutions: The Higher Technical Institute (HTI), which offers a 3 year course for marine engineer officers, and the Hanseatic Marine Training School (HMTS), which offers courses for ratings and short specialized courses for officers. In addition, a number of Cypriots are every year offered admission to the Greek Merchant Marine Academies, to be trained as Deck Officers and Engineers.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005