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The Agent’s Corner: Rules about clearing in, PWCs in Spain


The Agent’s Corner: Deb Radtke

Welcome to The Agents Corner, where I strive to answer pressing questions about yachting. Each week I present information from yacht agents around the globe on everything from entry and clearance details to fishing and diving regulations to the best places for local flavor.

This week I address some common issues regarding the Balearics, the Spanish archipelago that are a popular destination for the yachting industry. My colleagues at Estela Shipping in Palma provided the following information regarding the new regulations for non-EU yachts cruising the Balearic islands.

When the yacht arrives into an EU customs port from a non-EU port, a customs declaration must be done to officially declare entrance. In Mallorca, the official customs port of arrival is in Palma. Once the process has been completed, the vessel can head to any other port in Mallorca.

All professional crew must make an immigration entry clearance through the Port Police, even if they are EU citizens or they stay on the yacht. It is important to remember that the same is required for immigration departure clearance.

There have been some customs changes as of May 1, 2016, that should also be regarded:

The moment a non-EU private yacht enters into EU waters, she has a total of 18 months to be in EU waters before declaring herself to the relevant authorities. It is no longer possible to request a bond for the yacht to extend the 18 months. Once the 18-month period is completed, the vessel must pay EU import VAT or leave EU waters.

If any of these requirements are not met, EU VAT will be applicable.

I have also recently fielded concern in terms of managing personal watercraft (PWC) such as Jet Skis in the Balearics. So here are some hard-and-fast rules that should be useful and help with safety so guests, crew and owners can enjoy themselves hassle free:

As per Spanish regulations, PWCs can only be managed by someone with a PWC license or any other or superior or ship license. This can be obtained by doing a one-day course, which can be done on board or at the PWC school. A person must be at least 16 to obtain a license and drive a PWC.

It is forbidden to ride a PWC less than 200m from a beach, and less than 50m from the rest of the coast. A maximum speed of 3 knots is allowed in a navigation channel with buoys, access to the coast or a beach without marked channels, or within a port.

The PWC must be 100m from any other vessel before exceeding 5 knots.

A method of communication must be carried at all times (i.e. mobile phone/VHF).

One is not allowed to practice this sport within the ports, access channels, in the area of mooring buoys and in areas of high concentration of boats, whether they are sailing or moored, as well as sailing areas where regattas are.

PWCs cannot be at a distance of more than 2 miles from the coast.

When on a PWC as a passenger or driver, all must wear an approved life jacket, with a minimum of 150 Newton buoyancy.

Water toys are permitted with a PWC, as long as it has the correct tow bar at the rear. To waterski or wakeboard behind a PWC, the second person on the PWC must face the person being towed.

The maximum number of people allowed on the PWC is determined by the manufacturer.

The minimum age for the handling of a PWC is 18, however minors of at least 16 can drive if they have written consent of a parent or guardian who registered at any harbormaster.

The registration shall appear on both sides of the vehicle and is compulsory to carry third-party insurance.

Operation is permitted only during the day, from sunrise until one hour before sunset.

For more about PWC regulations, email or call +34 971 722 532.

Capt. Deb Radtke owns American Yacht Agents in Ft. Lauderdale ( After 16 years working on yachts, she found her niche shoreside assisting vessels visiting the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes. Comments are welcome below.


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