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have a special, autonomous, status within spain.
the applicable rates are currently understood to be
12% in respect of mainland spain and the Balearic
Islands, 11% in the Canary Islands and 0% in Ceuta
and Melilla. In the event that the relevant rules are
triggered, the “payment” of the tax in Ceuta and
Melilla at a zero-rate does not absolve the owner of
the yacht from a matriculation tax liability in mainland
spain, the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands.
It is unclear why the Valencia authorities have
recently become so active on this, but it seems
likely that their intervention was triggered not by
the ownership of the yachts but on the basis of the
residence rules described above. Will events in Torrevieja be
As matriculation tax is a non-harmonised levy it is
repeated elsewhere in Spain?
difficult to predict how the other spanish authorities
will apply the rules. the reports from torrevieja do
not necessarily suggest a nationwide campaign, but
certainly those operating and/or living on board their yachts in Finally, we have been assisting the spanish superyacht
spain should ensure that they are fully familiar with the relevant Association (the “AeGY”) in lobbying the spanish government to
regulations. this is particularly important with the summer season follow the lead of France and, to some extent, Italy and establish
looming, where increased cruising activity is likely to result in a charter-friendly environment in spain. the requirement of
a higher incidence of inspections by the spanish customs and a charter licence for any yacht wishing to charter in spanish
excise authorities. waters – itself dependent on the payment of matriculation
on a slightly different tack, we have come across some tax – has all but decimated the spanish charter industry,
worrying reports during last month’s Abu Dhabi Yacht show notwithstanding the superb facilities, infrastructure and cruising
suggesting an impending clamp-down in spain on red ensign- grounds, and AeGY have taken the lead in working to persuade
flagged yachts registered outside mainland Britain. A particular the spanish government to relax their stance and bring spain
reference was made in this regard to “tax havens” and an in line with other popular areas in the Mediterranean. As
apparent change in spanish policy regarding the status of France has discovered, direct income due to increased charter
such yachts. the implication was that any yacht registered activity is likely to be significantly greater than the revenue
for example on the Cayman, BVI or Channel Islands registries from matriculation tax. Italy now appears to be reviewing its
would automatically be deemed to be avoiding a tax liability policies and a recent press announcement regarding the planned
and thus impounded and the owner penalised. however, we abolishment of the sardinian luxury tax perhaps heralds a change
now understand that the focus is on commercial ships, rather of attitudes in that part of europe.
than yachts, and that the issue relates to the absence of an the current economic conditions, coupled with the AeGY’s
explicit reference to the United Kingdom on the Certificate of efforts and wider industry pressure, might just be the catalyst
registry carried by such ships. though this issue appears to have for change in spain. this poses the interesting question as to
blown over for now and should no longer be a concern for yacht whether those who have paid matriculation tax to obtain a
owners, it is hardly surprising that it has created concern within spanish charter licence and who are legitimately chartering in
the yachting community coming so soon after the news of the spanish waters will be entitled to a refund if matriculation tax is
apparent clamp-down on yacht-owning UK residents referred to ever abolished. n
in the preceding paragraphs. With spain being such a popular
cruising destination, any news of this nature is likely to be
Pawel Wysocki is an Associate in Hill Dickinson’s Yacht Team who
deals with both contentious and non-contentious work including
amplified and commented upon. We are monitoring the position
sale and purchase agreements, construction agreements, terms of
and future updates will follow if and when we become aware of
business, financing and all manner of yacht-related disputes.
any relevant further developments. Tel: +44 207 280 9160; e-mail:
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