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The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) is celebrating its four-year anniversary since its transformation from the Department for Merchant Shipping on 1st of March 2018. With the mission to increase the functionality, effectiveness, and flexibility of our public shipping administration, we have always focussed on safety and sustainability.

Since its inception in 2018, the Cyprus flag has seen significant growth and it is testament to the hard work of the entire team which has made progressive and sustainable changes in its operations and policies to benefit the entire shipping community.

Cyprus currently ranks as the eleventh largest merchant fleet worldwide, the third largest fleet in the European Union, and Europe’s largest shipmanagement centre. The flag represents a workforce of over 9000 in shipping and shipping related activities. Cyprus now flags more than 1,000 oceangoing vessels with a total gross tonnage exceeding 24.2 million and shipping revenues – which have risen by 37% since 2018 – represent 7% of Cyprus’ GDP.

We have made huge progress as a flag over recent years in solidifying our place as an active proponent of the global energy transition. Cyprus remains committed to accelerating the shipping industry’s transition towards a decarbonized future, while preserving competitiveness and safeguarding the well-being of seafarers. In addition, we have always played a leading role and active contribution in the formulation of global and EU maritime policy, contributing to IMO, ILO and EU discussions on forming regulation.

The welfare of seafarers has been an ongoing priority of the SDM since its inception, with over 55,000 currently working onboard Cyprus-flagged ships. Following the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus was one of the first countries worldwide that recognised seafarers as key workers. We implemented a formal crew change process, assisting with the repatriation of thousands of individuals. The SDM also formulated and proposed a practical, global approach to delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to seafarers, which was then adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Further recognising the urgency of seafarer vaccination, and the role this would play in easing the crew change crisis, Cyprus then committed to vaccinating all crew onboard Cyprus-flagged and managed vessels with the adoption of a national vaccination plan to cover 40000 seafarers. We are very proud of taking an extrovert and proactive approach to change, and responding to new and changing circumstances. Our adaptable approach to the challenges faced by seafarers will always be a priority to protect the safety of our seafarers and vessel operations.

Over the last few years in particular, Cyprus has focused on incentivizing sustainable shipping with new programs and initiatives designed to benefit the environment and shipowners. The tonnage tax system was renewed in 2019, following the approval by the EU, and is prolonged until 2029, increasing Cyprus shipping credibility, ensuring stability to the shipping community. It has been a popular benefit to the shipping community. Demonstrating this value is clear, as the number of shipping companies registered under this regime has increased by 63%, to 282, since 2018. Cyprus continues to develop new and progressive programs to support the maritime sector.

The ministry has worked hard to cement our reputation as a well-established and quality registry, committed to safety, security and excellence. Testament to this is the flag’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions. For example, annual tonnage tax is now reduced by up to 30% for each vessel that demonstrates proactive measures to reduce its environmental impact, ensuring shipowners are rewarded for sustainable shipping efforts. We are building a pathway to achieve and exceed the IMO 2030 and 2050 targets, and we hope our initiatives form a strong foundation from which others can build.

We have made significant progress since our inception but remain focused on looking ahead. We want to progress the Cyprus flag while at the same time supporting development of the European maritime industry by advancing new green technologies, creating opportunities for jobs and growth, and providing a first-mover advantage to the EU shipping industry. We have ambitious plans outlined in our latest strategy, SEAChange2030, and look forward to continuing and building upon the progress that has been achieved over the last four years.

It is a pleasure to be part of this progressive and proactive flag. Together we will continue our journey towards a more sustainable, adaptable and extrovert future for Cyprus and the wider shipping community in Europe and beyond.

For more information on our new strategy looking ahead to 2030, please visit: