Coronavirus “COVID-19”: Steps taken by the Cyprus Ship Registry and the Cyprus Companies Registry to assist businesses

Cyprus Ship Registry – Extension of Time for Payment of Tonnage Tax and Annual Maintenance Fee: It has been announced that the CyprusShipping Deputy Ministry, in an effort to support shipping companies and owners of Cyprus ships and to enable them to address the difficulties encountered due to the wide spread of the coronavirus outbreak, has decided to extend the date of payment of:

(i)               the Tonnage Tax of Cyprus ships; and

(ii)              the Cyprus Registry Maintenance Annual Fee.

In this respect, it is intended that a relevant Notification will be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus, informing all interested parties that the deadline for payment of the Tonnage Tax and the Cyprus Registry Maintenance Annual Fee for the tax year 2020, normally due by 31st March 2020, will be extended to 31st May 2020.

The Shipping Deputy Ministry has introduced special arrangements in order to ensure protection of public health and limit the spread of the virus. For this reason, the public has been advised to submit electronically all requests and enquiries according to the relevant Circular 6/2020dated 17 March 2020. The said Circular 6/2020 provides, among others that all documents regarding transactions in the Register of Cyprus Ships or in the Special Book of Parallel Registration should be sent electronically to the following email address: [email protected]. The original documents should be filed in the special box at the entrance of the main building of the Shipping Deputy Ministry between 09:00 and 14:00.

It is noted that the Circular 6/2020 contains additional email addresses for communication in relation to the Tonnage Tax System Unit, Port State Contract/Security Unit, Marine Environment Unity, Marine Surveillance and Anti-Pollution Unit, Coastal Navigation Unit, Seafarer and Maritime Labour Unit, Maritime Safety Unit, Flag State Control Unit, Civil Liability Certification, Small Vessel Unit as well as account details for payment transactions.

 

Registrar of Cyprus Companies: The Registrar of Cyprus Companies has also taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus. The Registrar has, among others, announced the following:

 

(i)               In relation to companies that have failed to submit the necessary annual returns, the Registrar intents to delay until January 2021 the publication in the Official Gazette of the 3 month notice that is required prior to proceeding with strike-off.

 

(ii)              The deadline for the payment of the annual levy in relation to the year 2020 is extended until 31 December 2020 without the 10% and 30% penalty.

 

(iii)            In cooperation with the Cyprus Parliament it is anticipated that the payment of the surcharge applicable for the late filing of certain notifications/forms may be moved for 2021.

 

(iv)            The annual returns for the year 2020 dated between 01/01/2020 until 31/12/2020 may be filed until 28/01/2021 without payment of the applicable surcharge for late payment.

 

The Registrar of Cyprus Companies is also taking steps at its premises and in relation to the manner of filing of documents to minimize the spread of the virus. The Registrar of Companies will only accept documents/applications at its premises that for any reason cannot be submitted electronically.

For the filing of documents at the premises of the Registrar there will be specifically designed spaces at the entrance (on the ground floor) where the applications will be received and stamped between the hours of 09:00 to 11:00. The applications must be in sealed envelopes which must specify the relevant sector.  The documents must be fully completed together with all supporting documents and properly signed. Finally, the details of the applicant for correspondence purposes must be included along with a cheque for the correct amount.

 

The above are not exhaustive while additional circulars and directions may be announced.  For further information on possible effects that the Coronavirus may have on contractual arrangements please refer to Coronavirus – possible effects on contracts and precautions for mariners, or contact Costas Stamatiou, Vassilis Psyrras or your usual contact at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC.