P&O, the British-based ferry and shipping operator, is to switch registration of its UK vessels to Cyprus, in a pre-emptive move before the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.
The firm already has two vessels listed on the Cyprus registry, and is now preparing to move its entire English Channel fleet from the UK flag by the end of next month.
In a statement released yesterday, P&O said: "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.
"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."
A spokesman added that it "will result in significantly more favourable tonnage tax arrangements as the ships will be flagged in an EU member state. We have no plans to make any other changes, including the terms and conditions of any of our seafarers, as a result of the new arrangements."
P&O has cited tax reasons and Cyprus offering "fewer inspections and delays" among the reasons for its move. Cyprus is one of the world's leading centres for shipping registries.
In 2006 P&O was acquired by DP World, based in Dubai.