It’s just over a year since the 15 metre ceiling for claiming an exemption from the 12% matriculation tax on commercial vessels was removed, and just under a year since non-EU flagged vessels over 15m have been permitted to charter in Spanish waters.

It has been a learning curve for those in the chartering industry, particularly as we were not 100% sure what effect the legislative revisions would have on the charter process or how they would affect the charter license application process. Fortunately, the affect has been a positive one, and the authorities have, considering the uncertainty that comes with change, coped impressively well with the vast increase in the number of vessels wanting to charter in Spain, and, consequently the number of frequently asked questions of them, none the least from the likes of us.

Now that we are just over the crest of the wave that is the Mediterranean summer chartering season, we thought it an apt time to reflect on areas in the application process which we think we need to revisit in order to provide a more effective and efficient service to our clients. Fortunately, and without blowing our own foghorns, we have encountered very few impasses to date, and the majority of our charter license applications have gone through without a hitch.

One stumbling block which we feel obligated to highlight, is that encountered when the yacht flies an offshore or “tax haven” flag and is registered to an offshore/”tax haven” company. Whilst these companies may be appealing for many reasons to commercial yacht owners, they are not always compatible with EU legislation, particularly in this age of transparency, and issues that arise from the way the company is set up may cause complications in the application process as well as the need for a plethora of paperwork, the consequence of which is lengthy delays in obtaining a charter license.

As the Network adage goes, “nothing is impossible” (well, almost nothing), and we are by no means suggesting that offshore flagged vessels cannot charter in Spain. We are merely alerting you to the fact that serious consideration should be given in contemplating the vessel’s owning or operating company structure, particularly if timing is of the essence and you need your charter license in a hurry.

Having said that, and whether you choose to go for the simple EU registered flag/EU registered company option, or the more complex offshore flag/offshore company option, we are committed to making your Spanish charter experience as painless as possible and hopefully, with your continued understanding and patience, the stumbling block will ultimately be reduced to mere rubble.