The 3 June 2024 marks a big step in the implementation of the EU ETS for shipping in Germany. Maritime Operator Holding Accounts (MOHA’s) in the German Section of the Union Registry can finally be opened!

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This comes long after the envisioned deadline of 40 days within the publication of “the list” of Shipping Companies and their respective Administrative Authorities. According to the Directive and Article 15 a of its Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1122 regarding the functioning of the Union Registry, Shipping Companies included on the list and actually falling within the scope of the EU ETS were originally obligated to request a MOHA in the Union Registry by the 10 March 2024.

In view of the expiry of the deadline, obligated Shipping Companies assigned to the German Administering Authority are advised to initiate the opening of their MOHA without undue delay. This should also be in the Shipping Companies’ own interest, as they can get acquainted with the new system and rules.

Click for the DEHSt-Guidelines for the MOHA opening

In keeping with this new development, this article aims to answer Shipping Companies most pressing questions:

What is the MOHA and what do I need it for?

The MOHA is a operators account within the Union Registry available for Shipping Companies under the EU ETS. These Accounts are regulated by Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1122 and under supervision and administration of the national Administering Authorities. Each Member State is designated a section in the Union Registry and must provide MOHA’s to each Shipping Company. That is why the assumption that all Member States have now provided MOHA’s cannot be derived from their availability in Germany. Shipping Companies assigned to another Administering Authority, will have to check with them specifically.

MOHA’s can be described as the banking accounts of the Emission Trading System for Shipping Companies. Through these accounts EU-Allowances for emissions falling under the EU ETS are accounted for, stored, transferred and traded. The annual verified emissions are recorded and subject to control by the national Administering Authorities. Most importantly it is the compliance platform for the key-obligation under the EU ETS, -the surrender of EUA’s.

Are there any other relevant accounts?

As mentioned above MOHA’s are operator accounts and not to be confused with the so-called Trading Accounts which are also available under the EU ETS. While MOHA’s are a compliance tool and as such only available for the Shipping Company as the party responsible for compliance under the EU ETS, Trading Accounts can be opened within the German Section of the Union Registry by any legal entity or natural person, who would like to trade and transfer EUA’s. While MOHA’s can be opened free of charge, the opening and use of a Trading Account is subject to fees.

For those interested in opening a Trading Account, this is already available in the German section of the Union Registry and the DEHSt provides Guidelines.

To avoid any confusion or the generation of unnecessary costs and bureaucracy, please note that Shipping Companies do not require a separate Trading Account. All transactions of EUA’s can be performed via the MOHA. However, the MOHA does not cover the financial part of transactions of EUA’s.

Who is obligated to open a MOHA?

As a compliance tool, the party responsible for compliance under the EU ETS is obligated to open a MOHA. Under Art. 3 (w) of the EU ETS this party is called the Shipping Company. The definition of this legal term was explained in detail in my past articles on the EU ETS, the most relevant can be found here.

In the article you will discover that the Shipping Company can be one of two entities: (1) the Shipowner and (2) the mandated ISM Manager. Only one of them holds the EU ETS-compliance for the fleet of the shipowner which falls under the scope of the EU ETS. The party being responsible for compliance is obligated to open a MOHA within the Union Registry.

In case you’re struggling to figure out whether you are obligated to open a MOHA with the German Administering Authority, there are multiple steps which can lead you to clarity:

  • Check whether you’re already on the list of Shipping Companies released by the Commission on the 30 January 2024 with the purpose of assigning Administering Authorities to Shipping Companies. Be aware that the information and entities on that list were compiled on the basis of MRV-Emissions-Reporting of 2023 and has not been updated since. Thus, you might be wrongly included.

  • If you find yourself on the list, verify your inclusion by ensuring that the ships in your fleet actually fall within the scope of the EU ETS and that they operate within the geographical scope of the EU ETS. If you are certain that the ships in your fleet don’t have any points of contact with the European Economic Area at all, you fall outside the geographical scope of the EU ETS and are not bound by its compliance obligations. You do not need a MOHA and can ask the DEHSt to remove you from the list. However, if, for example, your ships fall outside the material scope of the EU ETS because they are smaller than 5000 gross tonnage you may consider voluntarily opening a MOHA anyway. They are free of charge and the Commission plans to extend the EU ETS to ships below 5000 gross tonnage but not below 400 gross tonnage by 2027.

  • If you do not find yourself on the list, you cannot be sure to be excluded. Rather, you should equally examine whether you fall within the scope of the EU ETS. If you do, you should refer to the Art. 3 gf of the Directive and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2599 in order to identify the Administering Authority responsible for you according to its instructions. I have summarized these steps of identification in a previous article.

  • If you are an ISM Manager but have not been mandated as the responsible party for compliance under the EU ETS by the shipowner, you are not the Shipping Company and do not require a MOHA.

When am I obligated to surrender EU-Allowances (EUA’s)?

The EU ETS for the maritime industry came into force in January 2024. The date of EUA-surrender for the first compliance year of 2024 will be in September 2025. Because the EU ETS has included a phase-in period for a smooth implementation of the Emissions Trading System into the maritime industry, EUA’s need to be surrendered for only 40% of verified emissions of 2024. That percentage increases each year. In 2027 the phase-in period comes to an end and EUA’s have to be surrendered via the MOHA for 100% of the verified emissions.    

If you encounter any questions or difficulties in the process of opening your MOHA don’t hesitate to contact us for further guidance.