Effective beginning in September, all yachts can offer charter services around Spain’s Balearic Islands.
“Although applicable to boats 14m (45 foot) and upward, this legislation is clearly targeted at superyachts, the sector most likely to be non-EU-flagged,” said Lorenzo Vila, director of Port Andratx-based Easyboats. “It states that a charter licence can be obtained provided there is a lack of available EU-flagged with similar characteristics. One would assume this is easily circumnavigated by bringing hull color, interior décor, tenders, toys, and so on into the equation.
“However, the ruling also states that the yacht must comply with technical, legal, administrative and fiscal requirements,” Vila said in a news release about the law. “Fiscal is the key word here. The superyacht would have to have its taxes paid in-line with Spanish requirements. In light of this, I believe the legislation is only good news, and economically viable, for boats who decide to base themselves in the Balearics for a season – not for those who want to dip in and out.”
“Combined with recent positive rulings on matriculation tax, it’s clear that Spain is trying to make things easier for the nautical industry,” he said.
According to ANEN, Spain’s national marine trade association, there has been a 13.27 percent increase in boat registrations for 2014 to the end of August, compared with last year, or about 412 more than the same period last year. The greatest growth was in vessels larger than 16m, which increased 47.83 percent.
The Balearics account for 90 percent of charter services offered in Spain, and many large yachts use Palma as a base in summer, including the 147m M/Y Rising Sun, 147m M/Y Prince Abdulaziz, the 115m M/Y Pelorus, the 96m M/Y Limitless, the 88m M/Y Musashi and the 78m M/Y Venus. Many more visit Palma for refits in winter.
“Not even [maritime] lawyers are completely certain of all the new rules, and many superyacht captains would still rather not take the risk – this could mean continuing to embark guests in France rather than Spain,” Vila said. “This superyacht industry has a massive economic trickle-down effect across the whole tourism sector, and Spain must wise up to that before the 2015 Mediterranean season gets under way.”