Superyacht Planning: Working Case Studies (2 of 2)

When you or your client think about their new Superyacht it might conjure visions of luxurious relaxation, crystal clear blue waters and basking in the sun; conversely, I highly doubt the first thing that comes to mind is the need to meticulously plan for the tax and management implications that go hand in hand with such a prestigious asset.

Here at Dixcart, we wanted to create some helpful and informative articles to serve as easy to digest introductions to some key concepts for superyacht planning:

  1. The key considerations for Superyacht ownership; and,
  2. A closer look at the ownership structure, Flag, VAT and other considerations via working case studies.

In article 1 of 2, we’ll take a brief look at vital elements such as:

What Holding Structures Should I Consider For a Superyacht?

When considering the most effective ownership structure you must take into account not only direct and indirect taxation, but also mitigation of personal liability. 

One way of managing this position is through the establishment of a corporate entity, which acts as a holding structure, owning the vessel on the Beneficial Owner’s behalf.

The tax planning requirements and available structures will help define desirable jurisdictions. The entity will be subject to the local laws and tax regime, therefore modern offshore jurisdictions like the Isle of Man may provide tax neutral and globally compliant solutions.

The Isle of Man offers a wide variety of structures to the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) and their advisers; such as Private Limited Companies and Limited Partnerships. As noted, the form of structuring is generally determined by the client’s circumstances and objectives, e.g.:

  • The vessel’s intended use i.e. private or commercial
  • The UBO’s tax position

Due to their relative simplicity and flexibility, Limited Partnerships (LP) or Private Limited Companies (Private Co) are commonly elected. Typically, the LP is operated by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – often a Private Co.

Yacht Ownership and Limited Partnerships

LPs formed on the Isle of Man are governed by the Partnership Act 1909. The LP is an incorporated entity with limited liability and can apply for separate legal personality at outset under the Limited Partnership (Legal Personality) Act 2011.

An LP consists of at least one General Partner and one Limited Partner.  Management is vested in the General Partner, who engages in the activity carried out by the LP i.e. the day-to-day management and any requisite decision making etc. Importantly the General Partner has unlimited liability, and therefore is liable to the full extent of all burdens and obligations incurred. For this reason the General Partner would usually be a Private Co.   

The Limited Partner provides the capital held by the LP – in this instance, the method of financing the yacht (debt or equity). The Limited Partner’s liability is limited to the extent of their contribution to the LP. It is of vital importance that the Limited Partner does not participate in the active management of the LP, lest they be deemed a General Partner – losing their limited liability and potentially defeating the tax planning, leading to unintended tax consequences.

The LP must have an Isle of Man Registered Office at all times. You can read more about what a Registered Office is, here.

The General Partner would be a Special Purpose Vehicle (“SPV”) taking the form of a Private Co managed by the service provider – for example, Dixcart would establish an Isle of Man Private Limited Company as General Partner with Isle of Man Directors, and the Limited Partner would be the UBO.

Yacht Ownership and SPVs

It may be useful to define what we mean when we say SPV. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is a legal entity established to achieve a defined purpose, normally incorporated to ringfence risk – be it legal or fiscal liability. This can be to raise financing, conduct a transaction, manage investment or in our instance, act as General Partner.

The SPV would arrange any matters required for the effective and efficient management of the yacht; including the provision of financing where appropriate. For example, instructing the build, purchase of tenders, working with various third-party experts to crew, manage and undertake maintenance of the Yacht etc.

If the Isle of Man is the most appropriate jurisdiction of incorporation, there are two types of Private Co available – these are Companies Act 1931 and Companies Act 2006 companies.

Companies Act 1931 (CA 1931):

The CA 1931 company is a more traditional entity, requiring Registered Office, two Directors and a Company Secretary.

Companies Act 2006 (CA 2006):

By comparison the CA 2006 company is more administratively streamlined, requiring Registered Office, a single Director (which can be a corporate entity) and a Registered Agent.

You can read more about what the role of Registered Office and Registered Agent are here.

Since 2021, CA 2006 companies can re-register under the CA1931 Act, whereas the inverse was always possible since the commencement of the CA 2006 – thus, both types of Private Co are convertible. You can read more about re-registration here.

We tend to see the CA 2006 route elected by most yachting structures, due to the relative simplicity offered. However, the choice of corporate vehicle will be governed by the planning requirements and the objectives of the UBO.

Where Should I Register The Superyacht?

By registering the vessel to one of the many shipping registries available, the owner is choosing whose laws and jurisdiction they will sail under. This choice will also govern the requirements regarding the regulation and inspection of the vessel.

Certain registries offer more developed tax and registration procedures, and the jurisdiction may also offer various legal and tax benefits. For these reasons, the British Red Ensign is often the flag of choice – available through Commonwealth countries, including:

In addition to Cayman and Manx registrations, we tend to also see clients favour the Marshall Islands and Malta. Dixcart has an office in Malta who can fully explain the benefits that this jurisdiction offers and have extensive experience flagging vessels.

All four of these jurisdictions offer administrative benefits, modern legislative environments and are compliant with the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control – an international agreement between 27 Maritime Authorities.

The choice of flag should again be determined by the UBO’s objectives and how the boat is intended to be used.

What Are The Implications For The Import/Export of a Superyacht?

Depending on a mix of factors relating to ownership and registration etc. sailing between territorial waters will often require serious consideration. There can be significant Customs Duties due, in mishandled circumstances.

For example, non-EU yachts must be imported into the EU and are subject to full rate VAT on the value of the yacht, unless an exemption or procedure can be applied. This can present significant costs for the owner of a superyacht, now potentially liable for up to 20%+ of the yacht value, at the time of importation.

As noted above, with proper planning, procedures can be applied which can abate or extinguish this liability. To name a few:

VAT Procedures for Private Charter Yachts

Temporary Admission (TA) – Private Yachts

TA is an EU Customs procedure, which allows certain goods (including private Yachts) to be brought into the Customs Territory with total or partial relief from import duties and taxes, subject to conditions. This can provide up to 18 months of exemption from such taxes.

In brief:

  • Those non-EU vessels must be registered outside of the EU (e.g. Cayman Islands, Isle of Man or Marshall Islands etc.);
  • The legal owner must be non-EU (e.g. an Isle of Man LP and Private Co etc.); and
  • The individual operating the vessel must be non-EU (i.e. the UBO is not an EU citizen). 

You can read more about TA here.

VAT Procedures for Commercial Charter Yachts

French Commercial Exemption (FCE)

The FCE procedure allows commercial yachts operating in French territorial waters to benefit from VAT exemption.

In order to benefit from the FCE, the yacht needs to comply with 5 requirements:

  1. Registered as a commercial yacht
  2. Used for commercial purposes
  3. Have a permanent crew onboard
  4. The vessel must be 15m+ in Length
  5. At least 70% of charters must be conducted outside of French Territorial Waters:
    • Qualifying voyages include those cruises outside of French and EU waters, for example: a trip starts from another EU or non-EU territory, or where the yacht cruises in international waters, or starts or ends in France or Monaco via international waters.

Those that meet the qualifying criteria can benefit from VAT exemption on importation (normally calculated on the value of the hull), no VAT on the purchase of supplies and services for the purposes of trading commercially, including no VAT on the purchase of fuel.

As you can see, whilst beneficial, the FCE can be operationally complex, particularly with regard to complying with point 5. A “non exemption” alternative is the French Reverse Charge Scheme (FRCS).

French Reverse Charge Scheme (FRCS)

Article 194 of the EU Directive on the Common System of Value Added Tax was brought into force to reduce the administrative VAT burden of both the EU Member States and non-established persons doing business in EU member states. Due to the discretion afforded with regards to implementation, the French Authorities were able to extend this Directive to offer non-established entities certain VAT benefits via the implementation of the FRCS.

Whilst EU entities must make 4 importations in a 12 month period, to be eligible for the FRCS, non-EU entities (such as incorporated Isle of Man LPs) do not need to meet this criterium. They will however still need to engage a French VAT agent to assist with the local administrative duties and formalities.

No VAT will be payable on the hull importation under the FRCS, and as such will not require disbursement. Albeit, VAT on goods and services will still be payable, but can be reclaimed later. Therefore, correct application of the FRCS can provide a cashflow neutral VAT solution. 

Once the FRC importation has been completed and the yacht has been imported into France, the yacht is granted free-circulation and can operate commercially within any EU territory without restriction.

As you can see, due to the formalities and potential tax liabilities at stake, importation needs to be carefully planned and Dixcart work with specialist partners to ensure proper compliance with formalities.

Malta VAT Deferral

In the case of a commercial chartering activity, Malta provides an additional benefit when it comes to importation.

Under normal circumstances, importing a yacht into Malta would attract Vat at the rate of 18%. This would need to be paid upon importation. At a later date, when the company uses the yacht for  commercial activity, the company would claim the Vat refund back in the Vat return.

The Malta authorities have devised a Vat deferral arrangement which eliminates the need to physically pay out the VAT on importation. The VAT payment is deferred, until the first VAT return of the company, where the VAT element will be declared as paid and claimed back, resulting in a VAT neutral position from a cashflow point-of-view upon importation.

There are no further conditions attached to this arrangement.

As you can see, due to the formalities and potential tax liabilities at stake, importation can be complex and needs to be carefully planned. 

Dixcart has offices in both the Isle of Man and Malta, and we are well placed to assist, ensuring proper compliance with formalities.

Crewing Considerations

It is common for the crew to be employed via a third-party agency. Under such circumstances, the third-party agency will hold a crewing agreement with the owning entity (i.e. the LP). The agency will be responsible for vetting and supplying crew members of every level of seniority and discipline – from Captain to Deckhand. They will work alongside service providers like Dixcart to ensure the best possible experience for the UBO and their guests.

How Dixcart can Support your Superyacht Planning

Over the last 50 years, Dixcart has developed strong working relationships with some of the yachting industry’s leading experts – from tax and legal planning, to building, yacht management and crewing.

When combined with our extensive experience in the effective and efficient operation of corporate entities, registration and administration of yacht structures, we are well placed to assist with superyachts of all sizes and purposes.

Get in Touch

If you require further information regarding yacht structuring and how we can assist, please feel free to get in touch with Paul Harvey at Dixcart.

Alternatively, you can connect with Paul on LinkedIn

Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.

Planning for a Superyacht? Here is What you Need to Consider (1 of 2)

When you or your client think about their new Superyacht it might conjure visions of luxurious relaxation, crystal clear blue waters and basking in the sun; conversely, I highly doubt the first thing that comes to mind is the need to meticulously plan for the tax and management implications that go hand in hand with such a prestigious asset.

Here at Dixcart, we wanted to create some helpful and informative articles to serve as easy to digest introductions to some key concepts for superyacht planning:

  1. The key considerations for Superyacht ownership; and,
  2. A closer look at the ownership structure, Flag, VAT and other considerations via working case studies.

In article 1 of 2, we’ll take a brief look at vital elements such as:

What Holding Structures Should I Consider For a Superyacht?

When considering the most effective ownership structure you must take into account not only direct and indirect taxation, but also mitigation of personal liability. 

One way of managing this position is through the establishment of a corporate entity, which acts as a holding structure, owning the vessel on the Beneficial Owner’s behalf.

The tax planning requirements and available structures will help define desirable jurisdictions. The entity will be subject to the local laws and tax regime, therefore modern offshore jurisdictions like the Isle of Man may provide tax neutral and globally compliant solutions.

The Isle of Man offers a wide variety of structures to the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) and their advisers; such as Private Limited Companies and Limited Partnerships. As noted, the form of structuring is generally determined by the client’s circumstances and objectives, e.g.:

  • The vessel’s intended use i.e. private or commercial
  • The UBO’s tax position

Due to their relative simplicity and flexibility, Limited Partnerships (LP) or Private Limited Companies (Private Co) are commonly elected. Typically, the LP is operated by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – often a Private Co.

Yacht Ownership and Limited Partnerships

LPs formed on the Isle of Man are governed by the Partnership Act 1909. The LP is an incorporated entity with limited liability and can apply for separate legal personality at outset under the Limited Partnership (Legal Personality) Act 2011.

An LP consists of at least one General Partner and one Limited Partner.  Management is vested in the General Partner, who engages in the activity carried out by the LP i.e. the day-to-day management and any requisite decision making etc. Importantly the General Partner has unlimited liability, and therefore is liable to the full extent of all burdens and obligations incurred. For this reason the General Partner would usually be a Private Co.   

The Limited Partner provides the capital held by the LP – in this instance, the method of financing the yacht (debt or equity). The Limited Partner’s liability is limited to the extent of their contribution to the LP. It is of vital importance that the Limited Partner does not participate in the active management of the LP, lest they be deemed a General Partner – losing their limited liability and potentially defeating the tax planning, leading to unintended tax consequences.

The LP must have an Isle of Man Registered Office at all times. You can read more about what a Registered Office is, here.

The General Partner would be a Special Purpose Vehicle (“SPV”) taking the form of a Private Co managed by the service provider – for example, Dixcart would establish an Isle of Man Private Limited Company as General Partner with Isle of Man Directors, and the Limited Partner would be the UBO.

Yacht Ownership and SPVs

It may be useful to define what we mean when we say SPV. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is a legal entity established to achieve a defined purpose, normally incorporated to ringfence risk – be it legal or fiscal liability. This can be to raise financing, conduct a transaction, manage investment or in our instance, act as General Partner.

The SPV would arrange any matters required for the effective and efficient management of the yacht; including the provision of financing where appropriate. For example, instructing the build, purchase of tenders, working with various third-party experts to crew, manage and undertake maintenance of the Yacht etc.

If the Isle of Man is the most appropriate jurisdiction of incorporation, there are two types of Private Co available – these are Companies Act 1931 and Companies Act 2006 companies.

Companies Act 1931 (CA 1931):

The CA 1931 company is a more traditional entity, requiring Registered Office, two Directors and a Company Secretary.

Companies Act 2006 (CA 2006):

By comparison the CA 2006 company is more administratively streamlined, requiring Registered Office, a single Director (which can be a corporate entity) and a Registered Agent.

You can read more about what the role of Registered Office and Registered Agent are here.

Since 2021, CA 2006 companies can re-register under the CA1931 Act, whereas the inverse was always possible since the commencement of the CA 2006 – thus, both types of Private Co are convertible. You can read more about re-registration here.

We tend to see the CA 2006 route elected by most yachting structures, due to the relative simplicity offered. However, the choice of corporate vehicle will be governed by the planning requirements and the objectives of the UBO.

Where Should I Register The Superyacht?

By registering the vessel to one of the many shipping registries available, the owner is choosing whose laws and jurisdiction they will sail under. This choice will also govern the requirements regarding the regulation and inspection of the vessel.

Certain registries offer more developed tax and registration procedures, and the jurisdiction may also offer various legal and tax benefits. For these reasons, the British Red Ensign is often the flag of choice – available through Commonwealth countries, including:

In addition to Cayman and Manx registrations, we tend to also see clients favour the Marshall Islands and Malta. All four of these jurisdictions offer administrative benefits, modern legislative environments and are compliant with the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control – an international agreement between 27 Maritime Authorities.

The choice of flag should again be determined by the UBO’s objectives and how the boat is intended to be used.

What Are The Implications For The Import/Export of a Superyacht?

Depending on a mix of factors relating to ownership and registration etc. sailing between territorial waters will often require serious consideration. There can be significant Customs Duties due, in mishandled circumstances.

For example, non-EU yachts must be imported into the EU and are subject to full rate VAT on the value of the yacht, unless an exemption or procedure can be applied. This can present significant costs for the owner of a superyacht, now potentially liable for up to 20%+ of the yacht value, at the time of importation.

As noted above, with proper planning, procedures can be applied which can abate or extinguish this liability. To name a few:

VAT Procedures for Private Charter Yachts

Temporary Admission (TA) – Private Yachts

TA is an EU Customs procedure, which allows certain goods (including private Yachts) to be brought into the Customs Territory with total or partial relief from import duties and taxes, subject to conditions. This can provide up to 18 months of exemption from such taxes.

In brief:

  • Those non-EU vessels must be registered outside of the EU (e.g. Cayman Islands, Isle of Man or Marshall Islands etc.);
  • The legal owner must be non-EU (e.g. an Isle of Man LP and Private Co etc.); and
  • The individual operating the vessel must be non-EU (i.e. the UBO is not an EU citizen). 

You can read more about TA here.

VAT Procedures for Commercial Charter Yachts

French Commercial Exemption (FCE)

The FCE procedure allows commercial yachts operating in French territorial waters to benefit from VAT exemption.

In order to benefit from the FCE, the yacht needs to comply with 5 requirements:

  1. Registered as a commercial yacht
  2. Used for commercial purposes
  3. Have a permanent crew onboard
  4. The vessel must be 15m+ in Length
  5. At least 70% of charters must be conducted outside of French Territorial Waters:
    • Qualifying voyages include those cruises outside of French and EU waters, for example: a trip starts from another EU or non-EU territory, or where the yacht cruises in international waters, or starts or ends in France or Monaco via international waters.

Those that meet the qualifying criteria can benefit from VAT exemption on importation (normally calculated on the value of the hull), no VAT on the purchase of supplies and services for the purposes of trading commercially, including no VAT on the purchase of fuel.

As you can see, whilst beneficial, the FCE can be operationally complex, particularly with regard to complying with point 5. A “non exemption” alternative is the French Reverse Charge Scheme (FRCS).

French Reverse Charge Scheme (FRCS)

Article 194 of the EU Directive on the Common System of Value Added Tax was brought into force to reduce the administrative VAT burden of both the EU Member States and non-established persons doing business in EU member states. Due to the discretion afforded with regards to implementation, the French Authorities were able to extend this Directive to offer non-established entities certain VAT benefits via the implementation of the FRCS.

Whilst EU entities must make 4 importations in a 12 month period, to be eligible for the FRCS, non-EU entities (such as incorporated Isle of Man LPs) do not need to meet this criterium. They will however still need to engage a French VAT agent to assist with the local administrative duties and formalities.

No VAT will be payable on the hull importation under the FRCS, and as such will not require disbursement. Albeit, VAT on goods and services will still be payable, but can be reclaimed later. Therefore, correct application of the FRCS can provide a cashflow neutral VAT solution. 

Once the FRC importation has been completed and the yacht has been imported into France, the yacht is granted free-circulation and can operate commercially within any EU territory without restriction.

As you can see, due to the formalities and potential tax liabilities at stake, importation needs to be carefully planned and Dixcart work with specialist partners to ensure proper compliance with formalities.

Crewing Considerations

It is common for the crew to be employed via a third-party agency. Under such circumstances, the third-party agency will hold a crewing agreement with the owning entity (i.e. the LP). The agency will be responsible for vetting and supplying crew members of every level of seniority and discipline – from Captain to Deckhand. They will work alongside service providers like Dixcart to ensure the best possible experience for the UBO and their guests.

How Dixcart can Support your Superyacht Planning

Over the last 50 years, Dixcart has developed strong working relationships with some of the yachting industry’s leading experts – from tax and legal planning, to building, yacht management and crewing.

When combined with our extensive experience in the effective and efficient operation of corporate entities, registration and administration of yacht structures, we are well placed to assist with superyachts of all sizes and purposes.

Get in Touch

If you require further information regarding yacht structuring and how we can assist, please feel free to get in touch with Paul Harvey at Dixcart.

Alternatively, you can connect with Paul on LinkedIn

Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.

Yacht Registration is on The Rise – Where to Register Your Pleasure Yacht?

The global tourism industry was brought to a halt as COVID-19 restrictions saw holidays being cancelled ‘en masse’ last year. As international travel looks to be opening up again, HNWIs will play a key role in reviving the sector and one particular trend we have seen them be part of, is the purchase and registration of private yachts and/or the chartering of private yachts.

Registering your Yacht

As with any valuable asset, the ownership structure of your yacht must be carefully considered and the jurisdiction in which the yacht is to be registered is also very important. The flag chosen for registration is one of the most important decisions. Dixcart has extensive expertise in registering yachts in a variety of jurisdictions, where we have offices, in order to help simplify the process.  Here are also some top tips to think about when registering your yacht: Luxury Yachts – Top Tips for Tax Efficient Registration.

Here is a snapshot of some of the best jurisdictions for yacht registration around the world:

CYPRUS

Cyprus is a key maritime centre and is recognised as one of the most accessible registries in the EU. It has not only grown in size in the last two decades but has also made a considerable effort to increase the quality of its fleet and related services. As a result, the Cyprus flag is now classified on the whitelist of the Paris and Tokyo MOUs (Flags securing the highest rating in relation to the Memorandum of Understandings on Port State Control).

Due to its strategic location at the gateway of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, it is a hub for shipowners and investors from all over the world, and there has been a rapid growth in the number of Cyprus shipping companies in recent years.

The procedure for registering vessels under the Cyprus flag has been designed to attract foreign investment and to build a dependable reputation, to be recognised by all of the international shipping authorities. 

Cyprus offers competitive yacht registration fees, low ongoing annual fees for yacht owners, and an attractive tax treatment for Officers and crew working on a Cyprus registered yacht (whereby they are not subject to income tax), as well as a series of other tax advantages including no tax on profits from the operational or management profits, no tax on income or dividends received from a ship management company, and a favourable tonnage tax scheme, based on gross tonnage.

The common practice for those wishing to register a vessel under the Cyprus flag is to incorporate a company in Cyprus, which will either acquire the yacht in its name, or bareboat charter the yacht. Cyprus offers a competitive rate of corporate income tax at 12.5% and low operating costs for Cyprus-owned companies. In addition, there is no estate duty on the inheritance of shares in a Cyprus shipping company and no stamp duty is payable on the ship mortgage deeds.

Find out more: Key advantages of registering your pleasure yacht in Cyprus

GUERNSEY

As a crown dependency, Guernsey has a very reputable yacht registry. It is a member of the ‘Red Ensign Group’ of British ship registries and its yachts enjoy the high standards associated with the red ensign flag.

By registering a yacht in Guernsey, owners can benefit from the advantages of a tax efficient and stable jurisdiction and the favourable tax laws of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. There is also the advantage of using a Guernsey Corporate structure to own and operate a yacht which can provide asset protection for the owner, together with other benefits.

Guernsey registration is valid internationally and all documentation is issued in English which is widely accepted around the world. There are no requirements for a Guernsey-registered yacht to physically visit Guernsey and owners have the ability to obtain a provisional registration to cover the vessel for navigation immediately after purchase. 

Another very attractive factor is that Guernsey is outside the VAT territory of the EU making the register useful for non-EU resident owners wanting to operate their vessel VAT free in Europe, and who are eligible to do so under Temporary Admission (Temporary Importation) relief.

Find out more: Benefits of Registering a Yacht in Guernsey

MALTA

Malta has the largest shipping register in Europe and is the sixth largest in the world. The procedure for registering a yacht in Malta is relatively straightforward; the Maltese authorities are approachable, whilst at the same time, meticulously follow a rigid framework of guidelines and regulations, creating a cutting edge for Malta within this sector.

The Malta flag is a European flag, a flag of confidence and a flag of choice.

Many leading international banks and financiers often recommend the Maltese register. This is due to the several advantages available:

  • No trading restrictions and preferential treatment in many ports.
  • The Maltese flag is on the white list of the Paris MoU, Tokyo MoU and on the Low Risk Ship List of the Paris MoU*. In addition, Malta has adopted all international Maritime Conventions.
  • All yachts can be registered in the name of legally constituted corporate bodies or entities (irrespective of nationality), or by European Union Citizens.
  • A Maltese yacht may also be bareboat charter registered under another flag.

Provisional registration is valid for six months, although this can be extended by a further six months; by this time all of the documentation must have been completed for the permanent registration. 

Individuals interested in registering their yacht in Malta, might wish to consider using a Maltese Cell Company. Shipping and Aviation Cell Company Regulations provide the opportunity to use a new cell structure for companies operating in the fields of shipping and aviation, and are treated as separate legal entities. This means assets and liabilities relevant to the individual cell can be segregated from the assets and liabilities of non-cellular elements, and from the other cells which may be held within the structure. A relatively simple example might be where one cell owns yacht A, the second cell owns yacht B, the third cell owns yacht C, and cell D owns the business matters in relation to ‘yacht management’. They can all be separated within the structure to ensure extra protection of the assets.

Malta is continuously reviewing their maritime legislation and introducing new regulations, ‘leading the way’ in terms of new initiatives in this sector. This includes yacht owners that have larger vessels and need to meet obligations for commercial passenger ships.

It is widely recognised when considering the operational pattern and risk profile of yachts, that these requirements, are in some instances disproportionately onerous and impractical in terms of design and implementation. As the trend for larger commercial yachts is growing, the 12-passenger limitation rule has become more problematic, resulting in an increase in administration for a number of organisations. This, combined with encouragement from the yachting industry, has provided impetus for Malta to develop the ‘Passenger Yacht Code’, to meet industry demands.

The introduction of the ‘Malta Passenger Yacht Code’ is applicable to passenger yachts which carry between 12 and 36 passengers, do not carry cargo, and which sail internationally. It is certainly a welcome development for those who plan to register larger commercial yachts under the Malta flag. It offers a solution to the many technical issues and concerns which were previously faced by prospective registrants.

Find out more: Why Malta is a great location for flagging or reflagging a yacht

PORTUGAL – MADEIRA

Madeira is part of Portugal and has full membership of the EU. This enables yacht purchasers to fully comply with EU legislation and the International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR) is internationally recognised as a credible and competitive option in comparison to other shipping registers.

MAR maintains the high quality and safety standards of an EU register. It is regarded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) as a flag of convenience and is included in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) White List*.

An advantage of registering a yacht in Madeira is that it is an EU Register which allows full access to navigation in EU waters without any types of restriction for either commercial or private yachts.In addition, its EU standing has the advantage of providing substance to the VAT status of yachts registered in Madeira that operate within EU waters.

Madeira also takes into consideration the purchase of second-hand yachts. Portuguese VAT is applied to the lower acquisition price, as rules allow for devaluation suffered by the yacht (deemed market value). This can lead to a significant reduction in VAT.

Yachts that are commercially registered in MAR and are (i) used for navigation on the high seas and (ii) engaged in commercial/charter activities, benefit from several VAT exemptions:

  • the acquisition price of the yacht;
  • repair, modification and maintenance operations of the yacht;
  • fuel and oil supply;
  • the supply of goods (provisions) to have on board; and
  • the supply of equipment.

In addition, there are no citizenship requirements for the crew, and they are exempt from personal income taxes. The crew also benefit from a flexible social security regime; crew members are not obliged to contribute to the Portuguese social security regime, provided that an alternative pension scheme is guaranteed.

As mentioned above, when we have looked at other jurisdictions, many yacht owners choose to register their vessel via a company structure. The International Business Centre of Madeira (MIBC), with its advantageous tax regime, provides a highly competitive package of tax benefits. Its reduced direct taxation, with effective corporate income tax rate of 5% until 2027, combined with an exemption from withholding tax (providing the shareholders are resident in an EU jurisdiction) on payments of dividends, interest, and royalties to non-residents of Portugal, makes it an attractive location for yacht operating companies.

Madeira companies also benefit from automatic VAT registration on incorporation and are instantly provided with a VAT registration number. This makes it easier for such companies to take advantage of the various benefits available.

Madeira yacht owning companies are exempt from the initial yacht registration fee and receive a 20% reduction in the annual yacht registration fee. Plus, withholding taxes on dividends can be eliminated by routing the investment in the Madeira company through an EU holding company, for example a Maltese holding company.

Find out more: Why consider Portugal for yacht registration?

Summary

Dixcart Air Marine assists clients who own, or wish to own, a yacht. Our team of experienced professionals can provide a wide variety of services including; pre-structuring and ownership advice, registering the yacht, the accounting, added value services, tax planning, assistance with crewing and payroll (if required), and ongoing annual requirements. If you would like to speak to one of our professional advisers, please get in touch:

*White List Paris and Tokyo MOUs: Flags securing the highest rating in relation to the Memorandum of Understandings on Port State Control.

Full Fiduciary Licence granted by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. Guernsey Registered Company Number: 6512.

Listed Company Services

Malta Implements a New Passenger Yacht Code: More Than Twelve Passengers

Background

Malta is a well-known and popular jurisdiction within the yachting sector. It has the largest shipping register of vessels in the EU and the 6th largest in the world. It is also a jurisdiction that is ‘leading the way’, with a number of initiatives in this sector.

Current Obligations

Yachts need to meet obligations for ‘commercial passenger ships’ and it is widely recognised when considering the operational pattern and risk profile of yachts, that these requirements, are in some instances disproportionately onerous and impractical in terms of design and implementation.

As the trend for larger commercial yachts increases, the 12 passenger limitation rule has become more problematic and has resulted in an increase in administration for a number of organisations, including the Malta Merchant Shipping Directorate. This, combined with encouragement from the yachting industry, has provided impetus for Malta to develop the ‘Passenger Yacht Code’, to meet industry demands.

The Malta Passenger Yacht Code

The Malta Passenger Yacht Code is applicable to passenger yachts, which carry between 12 and 36 passengers, do not carry cargo, and which sail internationally. The Code is intended to cater exclusively to the yachting sector of the market, it is not intended to apply to the excursion and/or ferry passenger sectors of the industry.

The new yacht code has been drafted by the Authority for Transport in Malta, in consultation with various industry stakeholders including; yacht designers, yacht builders, repair yards, specialised service providers and manufacturers, appointed surveyors and recognised organisations. This has been to ensure a wide representation of the industry.

Details of the Malta Passenger Yacht Code

A passenger yacht must be; surveyed, certified, audited and issued with Class and Statutory Certificates, applicable to passenger vessels, by a recognised organisation. Class Rules relating to passenger vessels will apply. Approval staff, auditors and surveyors must be experienced and qualified in passenger ship planning, audits, and surveys.

The Malta Passenger Yacht Code provides addition regulation, in particular in relation to safety, for example; life- saving appliances and arrangements, life at sea safety, navigation safety, and protection of personnel.

Passenger Yachts Chartered on a Static Basis

Where a passenger yacht remains static; berthed or anchored at sea, the yacht may be allowed to carry more than 36 passengers, as provided for in The Malta Passenger Yacht Code. For a passenger yacht to be able to be chartered on a static basis, the yacht would need to be issued with a statement by the Flag Authority, permitting static charters.

The Certification Process

Once owners submit the necessary documentation and complete the designated survey and inspections, the Maltese Flag Authorities will issue the vessel with a Statutory Certificate.

All passenger yachts must, in addition, be classified by a Recognised Organisation (RO), and must maintain a valid classification throughout the validity period of the yacht’s statutory certificate. The applicable RO Rules for classification purposes are those used for the classification of passenger ships. Upon satisfactory completion of  the required surveys or audits, the yacht’s RO needs to issue a certificate, confirming compliance with the Malta Code.

Passenger yachts certified under the remit of the Code may carry out International (Unrestricted) Voyages or Short International Voyages, as defined by The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Advantages of the Malta Passenger Yacht Code

The introduction of the Malta Passenger Yacht Code is a welcome development for those who plan to register larger commercial yachts under the Malta flag. It enables larger yachts to carry between 12 and 36 passengers.

It offers a solution to the many technical issues and concerns which were previously faced by prospective registrants.

Additional Information

If you would like further information regarding the registration of a yacht and opportunities available through Malta, please speak to Jonathan Vassalloadvice.malta@dixcart.com, at the Dixcart office in Malta or your usual Dixcart contact.

Pleasure Boats in Malta

Dixcart Malta Managing Director – Co-opted to Malta Chamber’s Yachting Services Executive Committee

Jonathan Vassallo has been co-opted to join the Yachting Services Executive Committee of the Yachting Services Business Section, within the Malta Chamber.

Jonathan Vassallo

This section represents one of the biggest categories within the Chamber in terms of members.

During the past couple of years the Chamber has been dealing with the challenges faced by the industry. It has continued to work closely with the authorities to propose new, and re-visit existing practical applications and procedures, designed to have a positive impact on the yachting industry in Malta.

This is an ongoing exercise to ensure that this yachting sector remains dynamic and at the forefront of the industry internationally. A number of procedures and guidelines have been adopted and fine-tuned, and this has helped to ensure that Malta remains an attractive jurisdiction for yacht owners and operators.

Jonathan is keen to be part of this team and use his experience to contribute to the Yachting Services Executive Committee for the benefit of this sector within the Malta economy.

For the next two years, the key objective of the Committee is to continue to offer a robust platform for the yachting industry and to collaborate with the authorities and stakeholders to improve Malta’s already strong position within the yachting world.

You can contact Jonathan, in the Dixcart Malta office at: advice.malta@dixcart.com

The Benefits of Ship or Yacht Registration in Portugal, with the International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR)

Ship or Yacht Registration in Portugal

The International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR) was established in 1989 as part of the Madeira International Business Centre (“MIBC”) “package” of taxation benefits. Portugal is an attractive jurisdiction for ship or yacht registration, with over half a million vessels are now registered with MAR. It is also ranked the fourth international shipping register in the EU. If you are in the process of deciding where to register your vessel, Portugal should be considered.

Vessels registered with MAR carry the Portuguese flag and are subject to the International Treaties and Conventions entered into by Portugal. The register is of a high standard, has EU credibility, is not regarded as a flag of convenience, and is whitelisted in both Paris MoU and Med MoU. Moreover, it has never been regarded by the ITF as a flag of convenience.

It is important to note that the Portuguese Government is determined to boost the maritime economy, taking concrete steps to put MAR among the leading European flags. In this context we must point out that MAR is one of the first flags to fully introduce an efficient digital system, allowing for the dematerialisation of all procedures and the issuing of electronic certificates following the IMO Guidelines for the use of electronic certificates.

In the words of MAR’s Technical Commission, “Portugal considers digitalization in the maritime transport as a very relevant development, namely in respect to expediting sharing of information, improving security and traceability of documentation and reducing administrative burdens.”

It is therefore clear that MAR is offering the best quality package to owners worldwide, as any individual or entity can register a vessel with MAR. There are no nationality requirements for ship-owners of vessels registered in MAR and they are not required to have their head office in Madeira. In addition, if the entity is registered with the International Business Centre of Madeira (MIBC), and undertakes maritime transportation, it can enjoy specific tax incentives provided by the MIBC.

Advantages of Ship or Yacht Registration in Portugal

Yacht Registration with MAR:

  • EU register – yacht registration in MAR provides unrestricted access to EU waters.
  • Yacht owners are not required to have their head office in Madeira (it is sufficient to have local legal representation with adequate powers).
  • Low levels of taxation.
  • The yacht does not have to sail or be moored in Madeira.
  • No citizenship requirements for the crew of commercial yachts and a flexible social security regime.
  • The existence of a flexible mortgage system which allows the mortgagor and the mortgagee, by written agreement, to choose the legal system of a particular country that will govern the terms of the mortgage.   
  • Reduced costs of registration.

Advantages of Ship Registration in MAR:

  • EU Flag – the register is of a high standard and has complete EU credibility, with access to continental and island cabotage.
  • The register is included in the Paris MoU Whitelist.
  • Competitive registration fees, there are no annual tonnage taxes.   
  • Only 30% of the safe manning must be “European”. This includes nationalities such as Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian, as well as citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries. This requirement may also be derogated if duly justified. This allows for flexible manning.
  • Crew wages are exempt from income tax and from social security charges in Portugal.
  • If an MIBC company is formed, with the object being maritime transportation, there is no share capital requirements.
  • Shipping companies licensed to operate within MAR benefit from a corporate income tax rate of 5% until 2027. They also enjoy:
    • automatic VAT registration,
    • access to the Portuguese double taxation treaty network,
    • exemption from withholding taxes on the distribution of dividends,
    • exemption from withholding taxes on interest, royalties and service fees paid to non-residents,
    • and exemption from capital duty, notary, and registration fees.
    • If certain requirements are met, shipping companies may also be exempt from capital gains tax when subsidiaries are sold.
  • The existence of a flexible mortgage system which allows the mortgagor and the mortgagee, by written agreement, to choose the legal system of a particular country that will govern the terms of the mortgage.   
  • Eight International Classification Societies are recognised in Portugal. MAR can delegate some of its functions to these societies. This can be simpler and more convenient for ship owners.          
  • Temporary registration is allowed by law (bareboat charter: “In” and “Out”).
  • Vessels under the Portuguese flag are included in the Qualship 21 Index of the United States of America. This certificate recognises the exceptional standards of the Register.

Summary

If you are interested in finding out more about Ship or Yacht Registration in Portugal and would like to take advantages of the benefits listed within this article, please contact: advice.portugal@dixcart.com, or your usual Dixcart contact

Luxury Yachts – Top Tips for Tax Efficient Registration

Where to Moor Up for More Benefits

Choosing the right jurisdiction for the registration and domiciliation of a yacht is key. Especially for luxury yachts.

Malta’s  reputation as an international centre of Maritime excellence, makes it a popular choice for yacht registration. This applies for both commercial registrations whereby a yacht undertakes commercial chartering, and also in terms of pleasure registrations where leasing is popular.  

Cyprus is another attractive jurisdiction in the EU for yacht registration and leasing.

Alternatively, Guernsey, close to the UK, is of interest to owners of certain types of pleasure yacht, and the Isle of Man is attractive due to a number of tax efficiencies.

The Dixcart office in Madeira (Portugal) has registered yachts in the Azores and in the low tax international business centre of Madeira. The Azores (Portugal) can be a preferred location for yacht importation into the EU due to its low rate of VAT.

Whether you are a prospective buyer or an existing owner of a luxury yacht – these top tips are for you.

Registering Luxury Yachts – Speak to an Adviser

Advisers often need to guide clients on the most suitable jurisdiction to flag a vessel. Historically, advisers have preferred tried and tested jurisdictions, but in today’s competitive world there is increasing importance on other issues such as jurisdiction perception, international transparency, time differences, appropriate legal systems, expertise, and growing costs associated with certain jurisdictions.

“Best practice” to select a suitable flag would generally include consideration of the following criteria:

  • Strong economic international standards – a minimum ‘A rating’.
  • Robust legal system.
  • A commercially run register – emphasis on service and response.
  • A strong performance in the areas of safety, security, and environmental protection.
  • A jurisdiction that is Whitelisted by the Paris & Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (Paris/Tokyo MoU) – and has a low-risk rating.
  • A jurisdiction strong on reputation, compliance, and transparency.
  • A jurisdiction with low registration costs, simplified bureaucratic procedures, and an appropriate tax regime.

Owners who choose a flag outside of their country of residence do so for one of the above reasons. Just remember, once you have chosen where to register your vessel, some of that particular country’s laws may apply to your yacht since a yacht is considered as an extension of the country under which it is flagged.

Understanding VAT

VAT is chargeable on any commodities imported into the EU, and yachts are no exception. VAT is also charged on commercial use of such yachts within EU territorial waters. Therefore, it is important to understand how VAT affects you.

As expected, EU member states have different VAT rates and also have their own interpretation regarding certain EU VAT directives. There may also be local practical procedures which differ from those of other countries – so it is important to speak to a professional adviser to clarify the legislation and procedures that could apply to you. Once the VAT element is settled, a yacht can circulate freely throughout the EU.

On the other hand, any private yachts owned by a non-EU resident registered under a non-EU flag may be allowed to enter EU waters for up to 18 months without VAT implications, on a Temporary Import Basis. If this applies to you, more information can be provided on request: advice@dixcart.com.

Ownership Structures

Corporate entities can register luxury yachts, and this is the option chosen by the majority of yacht owners. Most yacht owners will choose an LLC in order to reduce their personal liability associated with the yacht, however alternative options also exist.

But why? What are the benefits? One of the most common reasons is limited liability. By registering a yacht under a limited liability company, the owner can mitigate their personal liability and protect their personal assets.

In addition, if the decision is made to sell the yacht, by holding it under an entity, the ease of transferring the shares from the holding company to the buyer, is far easier especially if the buyer wishes to maintain the existing structure, crew, flag, and setup. Instead of selling the yacht, the owner can sell the company itself, which may be exempt from sales tax, depending on the circumstances.

Summary

Where a vessel owner decides to register their luxury yacht or ship and the relative owning structure is an important consideration. It can present significant implications in terms of managing the vessel and the tax effects that may result.

Structured ownership can provide various opportunities in terms of yacht acquisition and subsequent operation. The challenge is getting it right.

Dixcart Air Marine can assist clients with the registration of luxury yachts in a number of jurisdictions, provide a complete service in terms of the formation and management of the corporate entity, ongoing maintenance of the yacht registration itself, and additional concierge services, from assisting with crewing, including crew contracts, and payroll.

For more information, please contact:advice@dixcart.com or your usual Dixcart contact.

Dixcart Trust Corporation Limited, Guernsey: Full Fiduciary Licence granted by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. Guernsey registered company number: 6512.

Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.