Understanding Social Security on a Malta Flagged Vessel

Have you started working onboard a vessel flying the Maltese flag and noticed approximately €50 per week taken out of your salary?  No need for alarm, this is your Malta Social Security contribution.

Do I have to pay it?  
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen or resident, then the short answer is yes!  EU Regulation 883/2004, states seafarers who are either EU/EEA or Swiss citizens or residents and are employed on board a vessel flying the flag of Malta must be insured under Malta’s social security system.

However, there are two exceptions to this ruling.

  1. For EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens or residents, if the employer and employee reside in the same Member State, and the seafarer is affiliated in that State for social security, they do not need to pay the contribution as seafarers can only be subject to a social security system of one Member State.
  2. For non-residents of the EU/EEA/Switzerland working on a Malta-flagged vessel, there is the possibility to opt for the social security system of their non-EU/EEA/Switzerland country of residence.

 

What do I have to do?
You don’t have to do anything! The employer submits the registration application on the seafarer’s behalf, who is then issued a PE number and an income tax number and is registered in Malta for social security.  The registration and the payment of social security contributions for the seafarer is done by the employer who remits both the employer and employee's share of social security contributions. Therefore, there is a deduction from your salary.   Some yachts cover this cost for the seafarer in which case you won’t even notice, but your benefits are still accumulating.  The method of calculation of social security contributions is based on a percentage of the weekly salary and is capped.  In 2022, the capped rate for both employer and employee is €49.97 per week with a €1.50 Maternity Contribution.  Please note that your weekly contribution starts on a Monday, so if you start on a Tuesday, you won’t contribute for that first week.

What do I get?  
The benefits a person insured in Malta enjoy include:

  1. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or/and a S1 form (UK Healthcare)
  2. Unemployment benefits in their country of residence (if EU/EEA/Switzerland)
  3. Pensions with portability of rights – e.g. A person has worked for more than one year in two or more of any EU/EEA state or in Switzerland, then the EU Regulation 883/2004 requires each of these states to pay a rate of benefit proportional to the length of insurance periods in such states. (EU/EEA/Switzerland)
  4. A Social Security number - Seafarer residents in the EU, who are citizens of non-EU countries often find it difficult to obtain a social security number in the EU state of residence. So, obtaining an EU social security number in Malta allows them to be recognised in the EU.

In conclusion, the Maltese Social Security System is one of the most cost-effective jurisdictions for social security contributions and can be used in all EU/EEA states and Switzerland.  If you are a seafarer on a Malta-registered yacht, know that you are paying contributions and can benefit from the contributions paid!