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P&O to change flag of UK ships to Cyprus ahead of Brexit

London - British ferry and shipping freight operator P&O will shift the registration of its UK vessels to Cyprus ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union, in part to keep its tax arrangements in the bloc

London - British ferry and shipping freight operator P&O will shift the registration of its UK vessels to Cyprus ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union, in part to keep its tax arrangements in the bloc, the company told Reuters.

P&O currently has six UK-registered ships operating on the English Channel route to France, although it announced last month it was moving two of those to the Cyprus registry and one has already been transferred. All commercial ships have to be registered, or flagged, with a country partly to comply with safety and environmental regulations.

The move could complicate any attempts by the UK government to secure extra space on ships to help cope with potential disruption to trade if it fails to secure a negotiated departure from the EU. “In advance of Britain leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019, we undertook a review of the flag status of our ships on the English Channel,” a P&O spokesman said in a statement.

“For operational and accounting reasons, we have concluded that the best course of action is to re-flag all ships to be under the Cyprus flag.”

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