Armed Security on Board Made Legal

The Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Portuguese Republic has approved armed private security on board of Portuguese registered ships, including those registered in the International Shipping Registry of Madeira (MAR), through Decree-Law 159/2019 of October 24th.

Private armed security teams on board of Portuguese registered ships is limited to those ships that navigate through high-risk areas for piracy, as defined by the Portuguese Government.

Private armed security providers and their employees must obtain license and a hold a professional card, respectively, to be issued by the Portuguese Public Security Police (PSP) in accordance with the rules set by Decree-Law 159/2019. Furthermore, the use and carrying of weapons is only permitted to the security team members in the areas classified as high-risk areas for piracy.

Portuguese registered ships can hire private armed security companies that are duly registered in accordance with the laws and regulations of a EU Member-State o a country member of the European Economic Area. These companies must have a sole corporate object, private armed security providers, and a minimum share capital of EUR 250 000.

Companies providing private armed security services to Portuguese registered ships must have a Security Director who is responsible for choosing the Security Team Coordinator, for making and proposing the anti-piracy plan (in accordance with the Law and to be approved by DGRM and upon issuance of binding opinion be PSP the National Maritime Authority), for making and proposing the trip plan and for making and proposing the terrestrial transportation plan regarding the arms and ammunitions.

The Security Team Coordinator is responsible for managing the security team, for evaluating the security on board and following the ship’s captain inspection and for coordinating the team’s intervention without jeopardizing the ship’s captain maximum authority on board.

In accordance with the law private armed security on board cannot use a military or a military inspired uniform. When reaching high-risk areas for piracy and overall vestment stating “On Board Security” must be used.

Allowed weapons for security on board include: semi-automatic long firearms with automatic configuration for military use; semi-automatic pistols with calibers 6.5mm Browning; pepper sprays; and electric weapons which shape cannot be mistaken by another other class of weapon.

Further to the above, the ship must contain: anti-fire closets to store, separately, arms and ammunitions; CCTV (with audio) system; and voice communications systems.

These new measures greatly benefit the Portuguese merchant navy in registered in the International Shipping Registry of Madeira (MAR) and reinforce its position as one of the most competitive shipping registries in Europe.

For more information on this matter please do not hesitate to contact us.

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MAR introduces Electronic Certificates

The International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR) is now issuing ships’ electronic certificates and documents.

In line with national policies concerning digitalization within public services and administration, the Portuguese maritime administration has also taken the task to develop and implement systems and procedures to issue electronic certificates and documents to ships and seafarers.

These procedures and systems take in due consideration the IMO Guidelines for the use of electronic certificates (FAL.5/Circ.39), thus, means for authorities and other parties to promptly verify the validity of the electronic statutory certificates and documents issued by Portuguese authorities were also implemented. In the scope of this development Portugal has communicated the decision to IMO, which circulated the information to all member States through the Circular Letter No. 3822 dated 06/03/2018.

Seafarers’ electronic documentation, namely documents of recognition of certificates of competence in accordance with STCW/I/10 (endorsements and proof of application), have already been implemented with success by the relevant organization within the Portuguese maritime administration (DGRM).

Document’s Authentication

Electronic certificates and documents issued by MAR will be signed electronically in compliance with relevant Portuguese legislation by means of a qualified digital certificate, which serves as method of authentication of the authorized issuer and of the integrity of the contents of the documents.

The digital certificate used to sign the documents electronically is issued by a certifying entity accredited in accordance with national and EU relevant regulations. The documents are issued in PDF format and the signature and the respective status of validity can be checked within the software used to open the file.

Following the IMO guidelines for the facilitation of the use and acceptance of electronic certificates, MAR issued documents also include information and elements, which are harmonized in all electronic documents issued by the authorities within the Portuguese maritime administration, to provide for the verification of their validity at a national dedicated website.

The electronic documents verification dedicated website can be found at the following address: www.portugueseflagcontrol.pt. For the verification purpose, the electronic documents include an “unique tracking number” (UTN), as per IMO guidelines AL.5/Circ.39, and a QR code.The documents issued electronically by MAR are:

  • Registry certificates:
    • Ownership Registration Certificate;
    • Provisional Ownership Registration Certificate;
    • Bareboat Charter Registration Certificate.
  • Liability certificates:
    • Certificate of Insurance or Other Financial Security in respect of Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC);
    • Certificate of Insurance or Other Financial Security in respect of Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (BCLC);
    • Certificate of Insurance or Other Financial Security in respect of Liability for the Death of and Personal Injury to Passengers (PLR);
    • Certificate of Insurance or Other Financial Security in respect of Civil Liability for Removal of Wrecks (WRC).
  • Minimum Safe Manning Document;
  • Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance – Part I;
  • Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR).

In the near future MAR intends to also issue other electronic documents, such as statements and declarations. The same method of authentication will be used – electronic signature by means of a qualified digital certificate – equivalent, from the legal point of view, to the annual signature in a paper document.

Fore more information on this matter please contact us at www.mcs.pt or send us an e-mail to management@mcs.pt.

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NHR Regime – Update of Procedures

Following the publishing of the new list of “high value added activities” applicable to non-habitual residents (NHR) that register from 2020 onward, the Portuguese Tax Authority (AT) has decided to change the way which it controls how the high value added activities are performed.

Old procedure:

The AT had adopted a very lengthy and bureaucratic administrative procedure involving prior recognition, through presenting academic and contractual documents, and that took place simultaneously with the request for registration as a non-habitual resident or whenever the NHR would require such recognition at a later stage.Such approach did not rule out subsequent auditing by the AT concerning compliance with the regime requisites.

Such approach did not rule out subsequent auditing by the AT concerning compliance with the regime requisites.

New procedure:

Any NHR who wishes to benefit from 20% flat tax rate applicable to the activities recognized as being of high added value just need to refer such through the personal income tax return that is to be submitted annually by the NHR status holder, in accordance with the Law. There is no need to obtain prior recognition from the AT.

Proof concerning High Value Added Activities in case of audit

  • Employment or supply of services contract;
  • Proof of registration in a Professional Association or Guild;
  • Document proving that he or she has an administrative position; Declaration attesting to the beginning of the activity, in the case of independent workers; or
  • Other official documents that serve as proof that he or she exercises the invoked activity.

What is the NHR Regime?

It is the special Portuguese taxation regime applicable to the foreign income of natural persons. This program is specially designed for people wishing to transfer their residence to Portugal.

NHR status is valid for a period of 10 consecutive and non-renewable years, unless the taxpayer becomes non-resident for tax purposes for a period of 5 years before reaplying to the scheme.

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Madeira’s Ship Registry is World’s TOP 15

Portugal and its national merchant navy have recently been the subject of very positive analyzes by both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN). The reason: the International Ship Registry of Madeira (MAR)

In the case of the OECD, the country has been highlighted by the steady growth of its fleet since 2013, due to the work done under the MAR. The compliments to the Portuguese flag came from an OECD study in which Portugal is named one of the few flag states in Europe that have had constant success in growing their fleet over the last few years.

As for the United Nations, the most recent data confirm Portugal’s entry in the top 15 of the world records due to MAR.

In regards to the EU, it is confirmed that the International Register of Madeira Ships is the 3rd behind Malta and Cyprus, as the United Kingdom and Greece bring together several registers.

In recent years, in various international forums and agencies, the quality and growth of the Portuguese-flagged merchant navy has been widely recognized, based on analyzes that have the denominator of the International Register of Madeira Ships, and which unquestionably place the country among the most respected and competitive in the world in this sector.

This was the case for the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) reports on the performance of ship registrations, placing Portugal at the level of the best in the world, and for other reports issued by international bodies and entities such as the Memorandum Committee (MOU) of Paris and the American Coast Guard Qualship Index.

It should be noted that the exponential growth of the MAR has provided Portugal with a quality fleet, having contributed decisively to the country and, consequently, also to Europe, having more weight in the large international maritime forums, namely in the International Maritime Organization (IMO), where the major issues related to the sea and maritime transport are discussed and decided.

The most recent data show that the Madeira International Ship Registry continues to show a positive upward trend. Since the end of 2018, over a period of six months, MAR has seen an increase of 27 more commercial vessels. With a total of 653 vessels registered on 30 June, MAR maintains its top position among European international registrations, both in number of vessels and in tonnage.

Source: SDM

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