The maritime transport sector benefits from State aid under the optional tonnage tax scheme if the national rules of a Member State provides for such a tax. If a company opts in to the scheme, it is taxed on the basis of a fictional income calculated on the basis of the net registered tonnage, rather than on the actual profit or loss of that company The result is generally beneficial for the shipping company. The tonnage tax also applies usually to ship management companies. These are companies that perform services that are normally taken care of by ship owners themselves (recruiting, safety supervision, training, etc,).

Previously, ship management companies were only eligible for the tonnage tax scheme if they provided both technical management and crew management services for ship owners. From now on, the scheme will be available where a ship management company provides either one.

The possibility to opt in to the tonnage tax scheme will be conditional upon the full compliance of the companies/ships involved with international safety rules and the application of the substantial provisions of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.