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Marshall Islands flag lets private yachts charter in France

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The Marshall Islands registry has created a way for privately registered non-EU yachts to charter in France and Monaco for up to 12 weeks a year.

The program, called Yacht Engaged in Trade or YET, creates “a commercial bubble” around a private yacht for a specific time, such as the two weeks of a charter contract. When that time expires, the yacht goes back to being private again.

“Owners have always had the issue if they go to the Med of being either private or commercial,” said Ionna Hernandez, business development manager for yachts at International Registries, maritime administrator for the Marshall Islands flag.

To charter in the Med, a yacht must be registered commercial, so owners who want to use their yacht there handle this by either paying the charter fee and taxes as a regular charter client or clearing out of the EU and clearing back in as a private vessel.

“We sat down with French customs in Paris and Port State Control and had this program completely vetted,” Hernandez said.

Now vessels retain their private registration at all times, but get a temporary certificate of registry (COR) for YET. The yacht must meet all the standards of a commercially registered yacht and obtain a commercial certificate of compliance.

A downside is that the yacht, because it always remains privately registered, will not have access to duty-free fuel. And the yacht must be at least 24m to qualify for the commercial certificate.

“It’s not for everybody, but it’s solving a lot of problems,” she said.

International Registries, which announced the new certificate in mid-September at the Monaco Yacht Show, has been working with a Med-based lawyer and fiscal agent for the past 18 months to work out the details and set it up, Hernandez said.

Yachts must work with a Med-based fiscal agent to get the YET, and it works best for non-EU beneficial owners who will enter the EU on a temporary admission, good for 18 months. EU yacht owners can do it, too, but the boat has to be fully VAT paid.

“We’re so confident that it’s sound that we will invite customs and Port State Control to come down to the boat when it sails,” she said.

Charter brokers and lawyers are cautious as the program hasn’t been tried yet. Lawyer Danielle Butler of Ft. Lauderdale is meeting with IRI executives after the show to learn more.

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