New Greek law revolutionises yacht operation (7 May 2014)

A new law passed last month stands to make yacht operation in Greece easier and it will represent a significant change to other EU jurisdictions. Under Law 4256/2014, the necessity to obtain a Greek charter licence to allow the embarking and disembarking of passengers in Greek waters will be ended and a 10% luxury tax imposed on pleasure yachts has been abolished.
This new law relates to the operation of commercial and private yachts and commercial touristic day trip boats. It will mean that EU and non-EU commercially-flagged yachts of over 35m (115ft) are now able to charter from Greece, both embarking and disembarking passengers, by appointing a fiscal representative and registering on the online ‘Registry of Touristic Yachts and Small Vessels’. They also need to submit an application to the Ministry of Mercantile Marine and Aegean.
EU yachts will still be required to obtain a DEPKA and non-EU yachts a transit log that are delivered for one year. The law states that the minimum days of charter to be undertaken over a three-year period are 105 days if the yacht is chartered without crew, otherwise 75 days or 25 days for classic yachts and 5% to 20% reductions depending on the age of the yacht. No minimum days are required for VAT paid yachts.
Under the law, commercial yachts have to obtain a declaration from the port of embarkation 48 hours prior to departure and the charter agreement submitted. Private use by the owner is allowed when the yacht is not engaged in a third-party charter.
The law includes the possibility to charter with pleasure yachts if allowed by the flag of registration with extra security equipment and survey. This is allowed for Greek pleasure yachts but no VAT exemption or tax benefits.
In a statement about the new law, Janet Xanthopoulos, head of the Yacht Division of Monoceci Management SAM, Monaco, says: “We will be keeping a close eye on Greece to see how these new ‘lighter’ and favourable rules will be implemented in practice. What is for sure is that this new regulation will put Greece back on the industry map, given its extensive shoreline and the countless charter opportunities provided by its many islands.
“The GYA’s newly formed Greek association presided by Michael Skoulikidis of Atalanta Golden Yachts and represented in the Med by Tony Vamvakidi, chairman of North Star Yachting, will definitely be fighting for that goal,” she adds.


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