Non-EU owners & chartering in Spanish waters


Anthony Galea outlines the worry free solution to non-EU owners wishing to charter their yachts in Spanish waters.

A yacht charter offers owners attractive incentives that help to make the most of their asset. These include keeping the yacht and crew in good condition and offsetting a boat’s running costs, but there is always more to charter than what first meets the eye.

For many owners, the pressure of staying on top of financial and operational services is a time-consuming headache that they would rather do without. Far from turning their back on charter, however, often the best option is to seek independent corporate assistance and Vistra’s Mallorca Model is just one example of how engaging the services of a fiscal management team can alleviate the administrative burden for owners and captains alike.

The sailing hub of Spain promises sun, sand and the sound of life’s stresses slowly slipping away beneath your keel. But for yacht owners looking to charter their yacht in the area, navigating various bureaucratic and fiscal intricacies unique to Spanish waters can seem daunting. A big advantage of the Mallorca-Model is that Vistra Marine & Aviation Limited takes full responsibility for the entire setup, leaving non-EU commercial yacht owners free to relax. For example, all non-EU yachts that wish to charter must first be imported within the EU. That process involves appointing an on-the-ground fiscal representative in Spain to manage the importation and declaration of the yacht with an EU Customs Authority. They will also handle the application for a Spanish VAT number, together with the administrative requirements, such as yacht valuation.

Unlike other EU charter hotspots, such as France or Italy, before a yacht conducts a charter in Spain it must hold a charter license that has been obtained in the Spanish region where the charter will start. Vistra advises clients to apply for both the Balearics and Barcelona license to future- proof their options, but because Vistra has set up a dedicated charter company solely to undertake the commercial operation of yachts in Spain, it can efficiently handle all of the above on the yacht owner’s behalf.

In addition, yacht owners that take advantage of Vistra’s Mallorca-Model benefit from a legitimate, efficient and professional method that guarantees a smooth process from beginning to end. It also handles all relevant tax requirements, ensuring Spain’s non-negotiable 21% VAT charter income is collected and paid. Having the charter handled by Vistra allows owners to ensure no further tax becomes due. If the charter is undertaken by a non-EU company (e.g. Cayman Island, BVI, Marshall Island) and this country does not have a double tax treaty with Spain, an additional withholding tax of 24% has to be deducted from the charter income.

Vistra covers all facets of charter requirements – not just those associated with chartering in Spain – from assistance with registration, asset administration and corporate structuring to accounting, payroll, yacht financing, customs, VAT and tax compliance services. Vistra takes the ‘why’ out of yacht charter but keeps the owner in the driving seat.

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