purposes as well as the fact the answer may be interesting to future readers, here's what we learned after talking to several Malta
There 2 routes to get a VAT Paid status in Malta:
1) Go there with a new boat
and pay 18% VAT (which is lower than the 20% for France
or 21% for the Netherlands)
2) Set up a maltese company and have it buy the boat
. Effective VAT rate would be around 9% depending on the boats length.
Option 1 is still possible but does include some hassle and the boat needs to transfer ownership
. Also you must sail directly to Malta to get things sorted. For us it we believe it doesn't justify the 2% difference between paying the French VAT (20%) and the Maltese (18%).
Option 2 is not interesting anymore for boats <€2.000.000 as the cost of setting up and maintaining the Maltese entity has increased so has the regulations
We will buy the boat as private individuals and pay the VAT in France.