Debate over non-EU flagged yachts operating within the EU has been a hot topic for several years.
With an ever-changing political landscape, and more non-EU flagged yachts taking to the waters than ever before, let’s explore the ongoing and future implications for those choosing to fly the non-EU flag.
Why Choose Non-EU?
It has become increasingly common to see charter yachts in the EU flying non-EU flags, particularly those of the British Overseas territories. So, what makes non-EU such an appealing option?
1. Flag Choice
Flag choice is down to personal preference or a desire to fly a particular flag. For others, the efficiency of the flag registration process is a big draw. Arguably, some flag states will also prove more amenable than others, making them a more appealing prospect.
A choice of port can also increase the chance of obtaining a preferred yacht name, while the range of qualified jurisdictions for flag registration accounts for some deviation from EU options.
3. Industry Advice
Advice from industry professionals will also continue to play a part in opening up non-EU flag options to yacht owners.
The EU advantage
With a shifting political landscape, the ‘EU club’ seems to be pulling rank more tightly than ever before. This means that being in the EU to do business in the EU has never been more important for those in the yachting industry.
Examples of this included the Returned Goods Relief requirements for non-EU flagged yachts, the requirements to fiscally register in each VAT jurisdiction, and duty-free fuel issues in Italy for non-EU flagged yachts.
Yachts within the ‘EU club’ have also had a much broader choice of where to pay social security contributions for crew compared to vessels with non-EU flags.
With a shift towards closer unity amongst those in the EU and current communications coming out of Brussels, it looks like ‘protecting the EU club’ will remain paramount.
Most yachts have favoured EU flags from the UK, Isle of Man and Malta, with domestic vessels operating in local waters flying other EU flags.
As Brexit gains traction and the UK begin the process of leaving the EU, Malta will remain the more popular EU flag choice. Indeed, the number of Maltese flags in circulation seems to be increasing on a daily basis.
Sarnia has the advantage of having an office in Malta, which makes face-to-face arrangements for yacht owning companies, including flag registration, much easier. An added advantage is that Sarnia can control every step of the process.
The flag registration department at Transport Malta is already busy and Malta will need to gear up to cope with an influx of new business.
Relationships with various authorities are key to ensuring the flag registration process goes smoothly. Sarnia is in a strong position to process these applications thanks to its newly-expanded team and on-site network.
Yacht owners know that exploring their options is crucial and Sarnia recognises the importance of providing the right advice for every line of enquiry.