2014 was a year to remember, a year when giant positive steps were taken and the brakes came off Spain’s yachting sector. We are now open for fair and commercially-viable business and the industry is set to flourish.

It began at the end of April when the authorities clarified the latest changes to matriculation tax law initially published in October 2013. In simple terms, the 15 metre ceiling for claiming exemption from the 12% matriculation tax was removed. This meant that all correctly-registered yachts in commercial use, regardless of LOA, now qualify for the exemption, provided they meet certain criteria, namely: EU-flagged and exclusively for commercial use, with no private use by the owner, or anyone relating to the owner, unless as a charter client on a commercial basis.

Further to this clarification, an immediate influx of charter licence applications landed on Network Marine Consultants’ desk for the summer 2014 season, particularly amongst the higher LOAs. Sadly this didn’t mean an immediate influx of superyachts entering Spanish waters, as the clarification came too late and most cruising itineraries had already been planned. In summer 2015 we will start to see the full effects of these reforms – word will have spread and trust earned.

More good news landed in September when the Balearic Government officially announced it would allow non-EU-flagged charter yachts over 14 metres to operate from the Islands. Until then, they were only free to sail round the Balearics but not offer charter services. Terms and conditions also apply for these annually-renewable charter licences, including: the yacht must comply with technical, legal, administrative and fiscal requirements (EU VAT accounted for) and prove that no EU-flagged charter vessel with the same characteristics is available for the same charter period.

In conclusion, 2014 was a historic year for the industry, largely thanks to the united efforts of the various industry associations (ANEN, AENIB, AEGY and EporE) and us. We now have open bi-directional communication between the marine industry and the Balearic Government, and even the European Commission, and we will keep these lines open as there is plenty more to achieve.