In mid- 2021, the Portuguese Madeira flag measured the fifth largest of the European Union by tonnage taking also into account the open flags, like Malta and Cyprus. According to Clarkson Research, a total of 616 merchant vessels of a combined 24 million dwt were sailing under the flag of Portugal (Madeira Shipping Register), representing approximately 99% of all ships registered in Portugal (merchant of 1,000 gt and over).
The development of the Madeira flag has been gathering pace since 2015, with German ship owners making a significant contribution to this. In recent years the Madeira International ship Register has become the favourite flag of German companies along with the Liberian flag. By mid-2021, more than 60 German ship owners with a total of 378 merchant ships (15.5 million dwt) opted for the Madeira flag - a remarkable 19 % of the total German out-flagged tonnage. Around one third of this German tonnage was still registered under "open flags" such as Malta, Cyprus, Liberia or Antigua and Barbuda in mid-2017.
In the meantime, other EU countries have also spotted the Madeiran register. While the share of German owners in the Madeira flag has shrunk from over 85% in 2015 to around 65 % in mid-2021, the EU tonnageshare has doubled to 20% in the same period.