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 your luxury yacht.

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 – these top tips are for you.

  • Registering your Luxury Yacht – 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 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 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 the yacht 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.

Dixcart Air Marine – Team Introduction

The Team and Activity

Dixcart Air Marine assists clients with the registration of yachts, ships, and aircraft in a number of different jurisdictions.

Our team of experienced professionals across the various Dixcart offices, provide a complete service for clients. Professionalism, coupled with practical experience, help guarantee a smooth process for our clients and enables them to access a range of attractive measures that are available in the different jurisdictions.

Dixcart Air Marine can coordinate the entire yacht, ship, or aircraft purchase and/or ownership. To maximise the benefits, one of our professionals should ideally be involved as early as possible – as soon as the thought of owning the asset has occurred to the client. To see the full range of services available, please click here.

Introduction to Jonathan Vassallo and Gisela Martins

Jonathan Vassallo from the Malta office and Gisela Martins from the Madeira office are two key members of the Dixcart Air Marine team that we are introducing you to today.

Jonathan joined Dixcart in September 2009. He is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Malta Institute of Taxation, the Malta Institute of Accountants, and the Malta Institute of Management. Jonathan is also a member of the Yachting Business Section of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. He is the Managing Director of the Dixcart office in Malta.

Gisela Martins joined the Dixcart Group in 2010 as a senior lawyer in the legal and compliance department. Her practice is focused on Corporate, Tax, Shipping and Residency programmes. Gisela graduated in Law from the Catholic University of Portugal, in Lisbon, and worked for the international law firm Miranda & Associados.

She holds a Post-Graduate Degree in Management and Tax from the Portuguese Institute for Finance and Tax Studies (IESF).

Jonathan Vassallo – Jonathan.vassallo@dixcart.com

Jonathan Vassallo

Jonathan was appointed Director of Dixcart Management Malta Limited at the start of 2013 and Managing Director during 2018. His role is to develop and implement strategy for the Malta office ensuring that the Group’s high standards of compliance and operational control are maintained. He manages a number of relationships with international clients and particularly specialises in the areas of yachting, residence, and VAT. He has extensive experience with the registration of yachts and superyachts, the formation and administration of the relevant holding structures, and the ongoing management of yachting structures.

Before joining Dixcart, Jonathan Vassallo was involved in the manufacturing industry in Malta for thirteen years. During this term, he served as an Accountant and Financial Controller for two major furniture firms in Malta.

Gisela Martins – Gisela.martins@dixcart.com

Gisela Martins

Gisela is a member of the Air Marine department at the Dixcart office in Madeira (Portugal). She has extensive experience regarding yacht and ship registration, gained over 20 years, and is a member of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA).

Gisela provides advice on the setting up of appropriate ownership structures for the vessel, assists with VAT and yacht importation, and has been involved in several yacht and ship transactions and mortgages.

Gisela has been involved in a wide variety of domestic and international transactions, advising corporate clients in sectors such as mergers, commercial contracts, corporate transactions, including share acquisitions and disposals, and corporate reorganisations and restructuring. She has also provided tax and legal assistance to several private clients wishing to relocate to Portugal in order to benefit from the special tax regime, the Non-Habitual Residents Programme.

Why Should You Consider The Isle of Man for Yachting, Post-Brexit?

2020 was mired with uncertainty, but with an end to Brexit negotiations, vaccines, and the promise of further freedoms around the corner, 2021 will hopefully be a return to calmer waters. You, or your clients, may even have started to consider what happens next with regards to their Yachting activities.

With the dust settling in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU, resulting in a nearly 1,300 page EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, there is now more clarity on the Agreement’s impact on Yachting activities and potential tax implications.

One such clarification being that, following the UK’s exit from the EU, the Isle of Man is no longer deemed EU resident by association. As such, Yachts owned via an Isle of Man entity may qualify for Temporary Admission into EU waters. In this article, we will be covering the following topics to provide a quick overview:

  • Temporary Admission (TA) for Private Yachts
  • How to Meet the Requirements of Temporary Admission (TA)
  • What Next? Things to Consider When Planning Your Yacht Fiduciary Services

Temporary Admission (TA) for Private Yachts

Temporary Admission (TA) is a Customs procedure, in line with the Istanbul Convention 1990, which allows certain goods (including means of transport – e.g., private Yachts) to be brought into the Customs Territory with total or partial relief from import duties and taxes, subject to conditions.

For example, the goods must be imported for ‘Specific Purpose’ and are intended for re-exportation within a specified period.

Whilst owners established outside of the Customs area are exempt from VAT under TA, Customs Duty relief varies, dependent on the jurisdiction’s classification of the vessel and its Specific Purpose for being imported.

For quick reference we have provided a table of the headline details/requirements below:

EU TA
The Vessel is registered outside of the Customs Union. (The flag state of the Yacht is non-EU)  
The vessel is used by an individual established outside of the Customs Union. (The owning entity is established outside the EU)  
The vessel must be operated by an individual established outside of the Customs Union. (Ultimate Beneficial Owner must be resident outside the EU)  
Some further conditions to note:
a) The goods must be imported with the intention of re-exporting them at a later date (Maximum 18 months);
b) No alteration of the goods is intended (allowing for maintenance/upkeep), i.e. no value is to be added;
c) The goods can be clearly identified (e.g., hull identification number etc.);
d) The overall Customs requirements are met; and A guarantee is provided, if required (specific to the Member State).  

How to meet the requirements of Temporary Admission (TA)

Thankfully there is a lot of scope for meeting the requirements for those wishing to set sail in the EU under TA:

  1. Registration of the vessel

For a TA procedure to apply with full VAT and Customs Duty relief, the Yacht must be registered in a jurisdiction outside of the EU (it will use the flag of a Non-Member State).

Following its departure from the EU, the Isle of Man now meets this criteria, alongside traditional favourites such as the Cayman Islands.

  • Establishment of the individual

For our purposes, ‘individual’ refers to both Natural Persons and Corporate Entities. In this way we can have an individual established in a separate jurisdiction to the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) – often by way of a holding company, that will own the Yacht and which in turn will be subject to the local tax regime.

The jurisdiction of establishment in this case does not necessarily have to be the same as the chosen flag of the vessel.

  • Establishment of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) 

For the purposes of TA, so long as the UBO is resident outside of the EU, they will qualify.

What Next? Things to Consider When Planning Your Yacht Fiduciary Services

When selecting a suitable ownership structure for the registration of a Private Yacht, which will benefit from TA within EU waters, we would suggest checking the following broad criteria.

Choosing a Jurisdiction for the Holding Structure

  • Strong economic international standards – a minimum ‘A rating’. (S&P / Moody’s)
    • Robust legal standards.
    • An OECD Whitelisted jurisdiction with a strong reputation for compliance and transparency.
    • Beneficial tax regime taxes.

Choosing a Yacht Fiduciary Service

To assist with the specialist advice, corporate structuring, and administration of the Yacht, we would recommend ensuring that your service provider ticks the following boxes:

  • Geographic location – with relation to the local tax regime and time zone (for accessibility and ease of dealing). 
    • A proven track record –how established the provider is in the sector, as well as familiarity with this category of service.
    • Access to experts – with many providers, their scale often prevents direct and regular dealings with senior qualified staff members; you will want access to experts whenever you have a query or action that is required, and not to always have these dealt with by juniors.
    • Your business is valued – in an ideal situation, your business will be a priority to the provider, not just another client on the books. Finding a provider that is adaptable and responsive is key to service excellence.

What are Your Yacht Fiduciary Service Options?

With so many well-established shipping registrars and a wide selection of beneficial jurisdictions for incorporating a holding structure, you would be forgiven for having flashbacks of 2020’s uncertainty. This is where we can help.

At Dixcart, your needs are our priority – we provide a bespoke and personal service for those looking to manage and administer their luxury assets; giving you access to experts as and when you require them.

Because we are based in the Isle of Man, we benefit from our Aa3 rated jurisdiction’s political, economic and environmental stability. The Island is a self-governed Crown Dependency, setting its own laws and rates of taxation.

Whilst we can access any number of shipping registers, our local registrar has an exceptional track record of service excellence; providing an approach that blends modern flexible services and competitive rates without compromising on quality.

The beneficial tax regime, business friendly government and OECD ‘Whitelist’ status ensure that the tax vehicles we offer can help you achieve your goals whilst remaining globally compliant.

An Isle of Man registered Company enjoys the following benefits:

We have been assisting clients and their advisers for over 45 years with the effective structuring and administration of wealth, having experience of utilising multiple shipping registers to ensign vessels in line with their desired purpose. If you would like to discuss how we can assist you in achieving the effective and efficient administration of a vessel we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Paul Harvey at the Dixcart Office in the Isle of Man: advice.iom@dixcart.com.

Alternatively, you can connect with Paul on LinkedIn or find out more about our Dixcart Air Marine services here.

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

This information is provided as guidance as at 01/03/21 and should not be considered advice. The most appropriate vehicle is determined by individual client needs and specific advice should be sought.

Malta

Opportunities for the Segregation of Risk and Operational Management for Shipping and Aviation Companies Through the Use of A Maltese Cell Company

Extension of the Ability to Use a Cell Company in Malta

Shipping and Aviation Cell Company Regulations were issued in Malta, earlier this year. The purpose of these regulations is to provide the opportunity to use a new cell structure for companies operating in the fields of shipping and aviation.

Cell companies, for use in the insurance and securitisation sectors, have already been successfully established in Malta, under the Companies Act for Cell Companies. It was felt beneficial to extend this type of corporate structure to the shipping and aviation industry.

Benefits Cell Companies Offer

The definition of a cell, within the relevant Malta Companies Act, summarises the benefits available; a cell company creates ‘within itself one or more cells for the purpose of segregating and protecting the cellular assets of the company in such a manner as may be prescribed’.

Each cell is treated as a separate legal entity which allows for the segregation of assets and liabilities relevant to the individual cell, from the assets and liabilities of the non-cellular element, and from the other cells.

A cell company may have more than one cell and each cell is treated independently from any other cell forming part of the same cell company. A cell company therefore provides protection for cells, from the other cells within the same company.

Obligations Cell Companies Must Meet

Cell Companies are distinguished from other companies by their name, which must include the words; ‘Mobile Assets Protected Cell Company’ or ‘MAPCC’.

Companies with such a structure may be formed or constituted as a cell company to conduct shipping or aviation business. Alternatively, a company conducting such business can be converted into a cell company, if permitted to do so by its memorandum and articles of association.

The assets of a cell company can be cellular or non-cellular assets. Such assets consist of the cell’s capital and reserves, as well as all other assets attributable to the different cells.

A cell company may, in respect of any of its cells, create and issue shares, these are known as ‘cell shares’. The proceeds of the issue of this ‘cell share capital,’ will form the assets of the cell.

Cell companies must inform all third parties that they are dealing with a cell company, and that there are two regulations which specifically deal with creditors and the recourse available for creditors in relation to cellular assets.

Examples – How Aviation and Shipping Companies Can Use a Cell Company

There are numerous examples of how a cell company can be effectively used to segregate assets in the fields of aviation, shipping and yachting:

  • In relation to aviation, for example; one cell could own the plane, the second cell the engine, the third cell ‘aircraft management’ and a fourth cell might relate to the employees’ pension fund.
  • A similar, relatively simple example in relation to yachting, 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’.

Additional Information

If you would like further information regarding Malta Cell Companies and the opportunities that they provide and/or the registration of a ship, yacht or aircraft in Malta, please contact Jonathan Vassallo at the Dixcart office in Malta at advice.malta@dixcart.com.

Malta-nomad-residence-permit

Additional Reasons to Consider Malta for Yachting Solutions

Malta: Recent History – the Marine Sector

Over the past decade, Malta has consolidated its status as an international Mediterranean centre of maritime excellence. Currently Malta has the largest shipping register in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. In addition, Malta has become a world leader for commercial yacht registration.

As well as its strategic position, in the centre of the Mediterranean, one of the main contributors to Malta’s success is the business-friendly environment adopted by the Maltese authorities. The authorities are approachable and flexible in their practices, while at the same time meticulously follow a rigid framework of guidelines and regulations, and this has created a cutting edge for Malta within this sector.

Additional Benefits in Terms of VAT – Maltese Registered Yachts

The Malta Authorities recently announced further attractive measures, which have already been put in place, regarding the importation of yachts to Malta.

Yachts, intended for commercial use, can be imported into the EU via Malta, for relevant VAT and customs procedures to be undertaken.  Subsequently, the yacht can then be chartered, and can sail freely within EU waters.

Apart from the already inherent attraction for yachts to be imported into Malta, due to the low VAT rate of 18%, yachts used for commercial chartering can benefit from VAT deferral.

The deferral mechanism has now been made more attractive as follows:

  • Deferment of VAT on the importation of commercial yachts, by Maltese owning entities having a Maltese VAT registration, without the requirement for the importing entity to set up a bank guarantee;
  • Deferment of VAT on importation of commercial yachts, by EU owning entities having a Maltese VAT registration, provided that the company appoints a VAT agent in Malta, without the requirement for the importing entity to set up a bank guarantee;
  • Deferment of VAT on importation of commercial yachts by non–EU owning entities, as long as the importing entity sets up a bank guarantee for VAT, equivalent to 0.75% of the value of the yacht, capped at €1 million.

Dixcart: Yacht Registration Experience 

Our office in Malta has extensive experience and can assist clients with all of the commercial aspects in relation to yacht ownership:

  • Yacht ownership structures
  • Importation of yachts
  • Flag registrations
  • Deferment applications
  • Crew payrolls
  • Day-to-day administration
  • VAT registration in multiple jurisdictions
  • Resident agent services
  • Tax and VAT advice
  • Accounting and secretarial services

Assistance 

The Dixcart office in Malta has professionals who can assist your business with all aspects of yacht registration in Malta and can help ensure that you take advantage of the specific VAT deferment, applicable to your circumstances. Please speak to your usual Dixcart contact, or alternatively, please email: advice.malta@dixcart.com.

Malta

An Opportunity to Redomicile a Ship to an Attractive Shipping Regime in a Sunny Jurisdiction

Redomiciliation of a Shipping Company to Malta

Malta has established itself as a robust and safe maritime jurisdiction and has the largest European maritime flag registry.

It is possible to redomicile a shipping company from another jurisdiction to Malta, without liquidating the company in the country that it is being redomiciled from (Legal Notice 31, 2020).

A Summary of the Attractive Tax Regime Available to Ships Registered in Malta

In December 2017, the European Commission approved the Maltese tonnage tax regime for a period of 10 years, following a review of its compatibility with EU State Aid Rules.

The Maltese Shipping Tonnage Tax System

Under the Malta Tonnage Tax System, tax is dependent on the tonnage of the vessel or fleet belonaging to a particular ship-owner or ship-manager. Only companies that are active in maritime transport are eligible under the Maritime Guidelines.

Standard corporate tax rules do not apply to shipping activities in Malta. Instead shipping operations are subject to an annual tax consisting of a registration fee and annual tonnage tax. The rate of tonnage tax reduces according to the age of the vessel.

  • As an example, a trading ship measuring 80 metres, with 10,000 gross tonnage, built in the year 2000, will pay a fee of €6,524 on registration and €5,514 annual tax thereafter.

The smallest category of ship is up to a net tonnage of 2,500 and the largest, and most expensive, are ships over 50,000 net tonnage. Charges are reduced for ships in the 0-5 and 5-10 year age categories respectively and are greatest for those 25-30 years old.

Please see IN546 – Maltese Shipping – The Tonnage Tax System and Advantages for Shipping Companies, for further information regarding this regime and additional advantages regarding the registration of a ship in Malta.

Conditions to Redomicile a Shipping Company to Malta

The following conditions need to be met:

  • the company is established under the law of an approved country or jurisdiction where those laws are similar in nature to company law in Malta;
  • the ‘objects’ of the company must be such that the company qualifies as a shipping organisation;
  • provisions in the law of overseas country enabling such countries to redomicile
  • redomiciliation is permitted by the company’s charter, statutes or memorandum, and articles or other instruments that constitute or define the company;
  • a request is submitted to the Malta Registrar for the company to register to be continued in Malta.

A request by a foreign company for registration to be continued in Malta, must be  accompanied by:

  • the resolution authorising it to be registered as being continued in Malta;
  • a copy of the revised constitutional documents;
  • a certificate of good standing or equivalent documentation relating to the foreign company;
  • a declaration by the foreign company to be registered as continued in Malta;
  • a list of directors and company secretary;
  • confirmation that such a request is permitted by the laws of the country or jurisdiction in which the foreign company has been formed and incorporated or registered.

The Registrar will then issue a Provisional Certificate of Continuation.  Within six months of this certificate being issued, the company must submit documentation  to  the  Registrar  that  it  has ceased to be a company registered in the country or jurisdiction where it had been previously established. The Registrar will then issue a Certificate of Continuation.

Additional Information

If you would like further information regarding the Malta Tonnage Tax System or the registration of a ship and/or yacht in Malta, please contact Jonathan Vassallo at the Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com or your usual Dixcart contact.

Guidelines: Determination of the Place of Supply – Hiring of Pleasure Boats in Malta

The Malta Commissioner for Revenue has just published the guidelines that are to be used to determine the place of supply for the hiring of pleasure boats. These will be applicable, retrospectively, for all leases commencing on or after 1 November 2018.

These new guidelines are based on the fundamental VAT principle of ‘use and enjoyment’ and provide the mechanism to determine the amount of VAT to be paid on the lease of a pleasure boat.

The lessor (the party leasing the asset) needs to obtain from the lessee (the party paying for  use of the asset), reasonable documentation and/or technical data to determine the effective use and enjoyment of the pleasure vessel both within and outside EU territorial waters.

By using a ‘Preliminary Ratio’ and an ‘Actual Ratio’ the lessor will be able to apply VAT to the proportion of the lease relating to effective use and enjoyment, within EU territorial waters.

Additional Information

The Dixcart office in Malta has extensive experience in assisting with yacht ownership and registration in Malta. Please speak to Jonathan Vassallo: advice.malta@dixcart.com or to your usual Dixcart contact.

Please also see our Air Marine page.

Why use The Azores (Portugal) for Yacht Importation?

Background

The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands and is situated in the North Atlantic, about 1,500 kilometres west of Lisbon. These islands are an autonomous region of Portugal.

What Advantages are Offered by the Azores for Yacht Importation into the EU?

  • The standard rate of Portuguese VAT is 23% but the Azores benefits from a reduced VAT rate of 18%.

In relation to the EU as a whole, the Azores has the second lowest rate of VAT within the EU (equal to Malta), with only Luxembourg enjoying a lower rate at 17%. The low rate of VAT is a major reason why the Azores continues to be a popular location for yacht importation into the EU.

The Azores also provides a geographical advantage as it is on the route used by yachts crossing the Atlantic, from the US and the Caribbean, to Europe.

Dixcart: Yacht Importation Services Using the Azores

Dixcart has extensive experience importing yachts through the Azores.

The yacht must physically travel to the Azores and it must  be moored there for two to three working days, to enable customs clearance to take place.

Dixcart undertakes the preparation work at their office in Madeira and then organises for the appropriate professionals to travel to the Azores, to be there at the correct time and for the relevant number of days. These professionals assist with the customs clearance procedures and payment of VAT.

Steps and Procedures

Four steps take place:

Step 1: Application for a VAT number for the yacht owning company, as a Portuguese taxpayer

Requirements:

  1. Relevant documents to prove the yacht owner’s identity.
  2. Power of Attorney from the yacht owner in favour of the relevant Dixcart company. This company will apply for a VAT number and will be registered as the yacht owner’s fiscal representative, for VAT purposes, with the Portuguese Tax Authorities.

Step 2: Preparation of the relevant VAT and other customs forms

Requirements:

  1. ‘Declaration of Conformity’.
  2. ‘Bill of Sale’ and related invoices.
  3. Customs in the Azores will make their own evaluation as to the value of the yacht.

Step 3: Importation

The Azores Customs Authority will:

  1. Survey the yacht.
  2. Calculate the applicable VAT on importation, and any other relevant charges.
  3. Implement the customs clearance.

Step 4: VAT payment

The Portuguese tax representative of the yacht owner (provided by Dixcart) will pay the VAT applicable on the yacht importation and will receive the following items:

  1. ‘Declaration of Importation’. This document confirms customs clearance for the yacht and details of the relevant VAT payment. It must be kept on board the yacht at all times.
  2. Receipt of payment.

Additional Information

If you require additional information regarding yacht importation using the Azores, please speak to your usual Dixcart contact or to Gisela Martins at the Dixcart office in Madeira: advice.portugal@dixcart.com.

Portugal 1

Armed Guards to be Allowed on Board Portuguese Flagged Ships – Where Piracy Is Prevalant

New Law

On 10 January 2019, the Portuguese Council of Ministers approved a law to allow armed guards to sail on Portuguese flagged vessels.

This measure is long-awaited by the International Shipping Registry of Madeira (MAR) and by ship owners registered within it. The increase in financial loss due to hijackings and ransom demands, and the risk to human lives, as a result of hostage taking has led shipowners to demand such a of measure. Ship owners prefer to pay for additional protection rather than being potential victims of piracy.

Measures to Address the Increasingly Frequent Problem of Piracy

Unfortunately, piracy now constitutes a major threat to the shipping industry and it is recognised that the use of armed guards on board vessels is crucial to the decrease the number of piracy incidents.

The regime to be established by this law enables shipowners of Portuguese flagged vessels to hire private security companies, employing armed personnel to be on board ships, in order to protect these vessels when operating in areas of high piracy risk. The law also provides for the option to hire security contractors headquartered within the EU or EEA to protect Portuguese vessels.

Portugal will be joining the increasing number of ‘Flag States’ that allow the use of armed guards on board. This step is therefore logical and consistent with the actions being taken by a number of other countries.

Portugal and Shipping

As recently as November 2018 the Portuguese tonnage tax and seafarer scheme was enacted. The objective is to encourage new shipping companies by offering tax advantages, not only to shipowners, but also to seafarers. For more information regarding the advantages of the new Portuguese tonnage tax, please refer to the Dixcart Article: IN538 The Portuguese Tonnage Tax Scheme For Ships – What Benefits Will It Offer?.

The Madeira Shipping Registry (MAR): Other Advantages

This new law is designed to enhance Portugal’s shipping registry and Portugal’s second shipping register, the Madeira Registry (MAR). It is part of a comprehensive plan to develop the country’s entire maritime industry. This includes companies and individuals owning ships, shipping related infrastructure, maritime suppliers and those working in the maritime industry.

The Madeira Registry is already the fourth largest international shipping register within the EU. Its registered gross tonnage is over 15.5 million and its fleet comprises vessels from the largest shipowners such as APM-Maersk, MSC  (Mediterranean Shipping Company), CMA, CGM Group and Cosco Shipping. Please see: IN518 Why the International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR) is so Attractive.

How Can Dixcart Help?

Dixcart has extensive experience working with the owners and operators of commercial vessels as well as pleasure and commercial yachts, registered with the Portuguese Registry and/or MAR. We can assist with the permanent and/or bareboat registration of vessels, re-flagging, mortgages and the establishment of corporate owning and/or operational structures for the holding or management of vessels.

Additional Information

If you require additional information on this topic, please speak to your usual Dixcart contact, or to Gisela Martins at the Dixcart office in Madeira:

advice.portugal@dixcart.com.

Portugal 1

Why the Madeira International Shipping Register (MAR) is so Attractive and the Advantages of Registering a Vessel in Madeira

Background

The objective of the Madeira International Shipping Register (MAR) is to offer a credible alternative to other international registers. The high quality and safety standards of a conventional register have been maintained within an attractive tax environment designed to encourage inward investment to the island of Madeira. Vessels registered with MAR carry the Portuguese flag and are subject to the International Treaties and Conventions entered into by Portugal.

Over half a million vessels are now registered with MAR and it is ranked the fourth international shipping register in the EU. Four of the largest ship-owners in the world, APM-Maersk, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), CMA CGM Group and Cosco Shipping, have ships registered with MAR, as recorded by the international analyst firm, Alphaliner.

Recent Developments of MAR

In 2017 a number of significant developments took place, increasing the attractiveness of registering a vessel in MAR:

  • The Madeira Shipping Register was “White Listed” on both the Paris MOU and the Tokyo MOU.*
  • 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
  • The Korean Register (KR), a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), was granted authorisation by the Portugal Maritime Authority (DGRM) to deliver statutory services on behalf of the Portuguese flag. This authorisation enables the Korean Register to act as a Recognised Organisation (RO), conducting surveys and audits, and issuing certificates to Portuguese flagged ships, including those in Madeira, to ensure full compliance with SOLAS, MARPOL, ITC, ILL and MLC regulations.

*MOU: Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (MoU) and Tokyo (MoU).

Advantages of Registering a Vessel with MAR

The key advantages of ship registration in MAR are detailed below:

  • Shipping companies licenced to operate within MAR benefit from a corporate income tax rate of 5% until 2027. They also enjoy automatic VAT registration and have access to the Portuguese double taxation treaty network.
  • The Register is of a high standard, has EU credibility and full access to EU cabotage.
  • It is not regarded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation as a flag of convenience.
  • 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; it is sufficient to have local legal representation with adequate powers. Dixcart in Madeira can provide this service.
  • The existence of a flexible mortgage system 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.
  • Registration fees are competitive and there are no annual tonnage taxes.
  • Generally, the captain and 50% of the crew of the ship must be “European”. This includes nationalities such as Polish, Russian and Ukrainian, as well as citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries, which allows for flexible manning.
  • Crew wages are exempt from income tax and social security charges in Portugal.
  • Temporary registration is allowed by law (bareboat charter: “In” and “Out”).
  • 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.

Additional Tax Advantages for Shipping Companies in Madeira

In addition, to the reduced corporate tax rates, Madeira shipping companies also enjoy 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.

Shipping companies can benefit from the Double Taxation Treaties with Portugal and Investment Protection Treaties signed by Portugal.

Summary

The approach adopted by MAR allows for flexibility. Depending on the circumstances, the ship can be registered on MAR with the shipping company licensed in another jurisdiction, OR the shipping company can be registered in Madeira with the vessel registered elsewhere, OR both the vessel and the shipping company can be licensed in Madeira. Each of these options offer various advantages.

How Can Dixcart Help?

Dixcart has extensive experience working with the owners and operators of commercial vessels as well as pleasure and commercial yachts. We can assist with the permanent and/or bareboat registration of vessels, re-flagging, mortgages, and the establishment of corporate owning or operational structures for the holding or management of vessels.

Additional Information

If you require additional information regarding the International Shipping Register of Madeira and the tax efficiencies available to ships owned by Portuguese companies registered in MAR, please contact Gisela Martins at the Dixcart office in Madeira: advice.portugal@dixcart.com

See our Air Marine service.