Gibraltar scraps import duty on superyachts (16 July 2012)

The Gibraltar government has announced the abolition of import duty on all vessels over 18m (59ft) in this week’s Budget. Import duty on yachts, pleasure craft and other seagoing vessels under 18m has also been reduced from 12 to six per cent.

The move, announced on Monday, is expected to stimulate growth in the superyacht sector and encourage longer-term berthing in marinas such as Gibraltar’s Ocean Village.

«Due to our strategic location at the gateway between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, we have always attracted an endless stream of superyachts but they spend limited time in Gibraltar,» says Ros Astengo, business development manager at Ocean Village. «By reducing the duty and exempting it above 18m, the government is sending a clear message that there is no longer an incentive for resident vessel owners to keep their yachts outside Gibraltar.»

Under pre-Budget legislation, vessels in Gibraltar were classed by gross tonnage and leisure boaters were taxed heavily. Vessels weighing less than 80 gross tonnes were liable to pay import duty of 12 per cent, while vessels above 80 gross tonnes were not liable to pay import duty at all.

«If Gibraltar attracts even just a small percentage of the long-term berthing required by the superyacht sector, we will receive economic stimulus in a sector that, despite competitively priced berths, tax-free fuel and Cat 1 Red Ensign Group status, remains relatively untapped,» Astengo adds.

Across the border in Spain, the yachting industry continues its fight against the controversial 12 per cent matriculation tax on recreational boats over 8m (26ft) in length — a tax that doesn’t apply to any other country in the EU. With an additional 18 per cent VAT, buyers of moderate to large yachts face a surcharge of nearly a third of the retail price.

With the abolition of superyacht import duty in Gibraltar, it is hoped that large yachts deterred from operating in Spanish waters will see Gibraltar as a strong alternative. (Superyacht Business, 11 July 2012)

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