Gibraltar: Advantages And Procedures For The Registration Of A Yacht In Gibraltar

Last Updated: 24 June 2010
Article by Jonathan Stagnetto

Advantages

  1. Gibraltar's situation at the gateway to the Mediterranean, its British Flag Registry and the facilities provided by all three of its marinas means that it is ideally placed to service all registration, mooring, repair and maintenance needs associated with the yachting world.
  2. All vessels registered in Gibraltar are registered as British flag vessels with documentation being identical to the UK requirements and are required to fly the Red Ensign.
  3. Gibraltar's status within the EU is that it is a full EU member except that it is exempted from levying VAT as it does not form part of the EU's Common Customs Tariff area. For this reason, it is important to differentiate between countries falling within the EU's CCT area and other EU territories such as Gibraltar. For the reasons described above, if you register your yacht in Gibraltar you pay:

    • No VAT in Gibraltar
    • No Import Duty (if your vessel is not based in Gibraltar)
    • No tax on the sale of your vessel

  4. Under the laws applicable to yachts registered in Gibraltar in the name of limited companies it is:

    • Not necessary for shareholders or company directors to be nationals or residents of Gibraltar
    • Not necessary for the vessel to be surveyed annually
    • Not necessary for the skipper to hold any form of mariner's certificate in the case of pleasure yachts under 80 GRT.

Entitlement

  1. The persons entitled to be owners of British Flag vessels are:
    British nationals

    • Citizens of the European Union
    • Companies incorporated in jurisdictions which are subject to UK laws, and have principal places of business in these locations.

  2. Non-British nationals can make use of Gibraltar companies to own their vessels. The vessels can then be registered in the names of their Gibraltar companies, with the owners or their nominees holding all the shares in the Company.
  3. All vessels registered in Gibraltar be they in the name of Gibraltar companies or EU citizens, are required to appoint Registered Agents in Gibraltar who are entrusted with the annual renewal of the registration of the vessels for and on behalf of the Beneficial Owners of the vessels.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

  1. VAT is normally charged on yachts which are used within Common Customs Tariff waters, regardless of whether the yacht is owned by a Gibraltar company. For this reason it is important to note that whether a yacht is registered in Gibraltar or any other British Flag port, it is also subject to the conditions imposed by other countries as to the length of time that it may remain in any port without becoming subject to Import Duty as a foreign registered vessel.
  2. Although VAT-free temporary importation status is still available to yachts which do not spend more that six months in any year in CCT waters, this is conditional upon the yacht not being used by any EU residents during its time in CCT waters.
  3. If a vessel which is seeking a transfer of its Port of Registry from a country within the Common Customs Tariff area to Gibraltar, has already paid VAT on its purchase value, it would be important to show that the "resale" of the vessel to the name of a Gibraltar company is effected within the CCT area in order to preserve its VAT-paid status.
  4. EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar in the name of Gibraltar companies should note that any VAT levied by CCT member countries on their vessels would be conditional upon their status as EU citizens and not on their vessel's Port of Registry. For this reason it would certainly be a bonus if those EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar and continue to use their vessels within CCT waters, have already paid VAT on their vessels.

Procedures

  1. If the vessel to be registered in new, and has never been registered elsewhere previously, then we would need to be furnished with a Builder's Certificate which should carry the seal or rubber stamp of the Builder(s) and should indicate for whom the vessel was built.
  2. If the vessel is not a new vessel and is currently registered in a Non-British Flag port, then we need to be furnished with a Bill of Sale which indicates the sale of the vessel to the Gibraltar company, and which needs to be authenticated by a Consul or Notary Public who can bear witness to the nationality of the Vendor.
  3. If the vessel is currently sailing under the British Flag, then an ordinary Bill of Sale without any form of certification will suffice.
  4. If the vessel has been purchased from a British subject (or corporation), and it has not be registered previously, then we would require the applicant to provide us with a sequence of Bills of Sales from the initial owner to date.
  5. Every vessel seeking registration in Gibraltar (except for those meeting the criteria described in point f below) is required to produce a Measurement and Tonnage Survey Certificate which should be carried out by representatives of any of the following recognised syndicates:

    • Bureau Veritas
    • Lloyds of London
    • Germanischer Lloyd
    • American Bureau of Shipping
    • Norske Veritas
    • RINA
    • The Royal Yachting Association
    • Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyors Association.

  6. If a vessel seeking re-registration in Gibraltar can produce certified documentation pertaining to any EU port authority confirming that the vessel is up-to-date in its compliance with their registration requirements, and assuming that this documentation meets with the approval of the Gibraltar Yacht Registry, then the requirements to have a Measurement & Tonnage Survey carried out on the vessel can be simplified via the homologation of the information appearing on these documents to meet British standards.

Cost Of Registering A Yacht In Gibraltar

FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED's costs for the services of registering a vessel in Gibraltar (inclusive of all Registry fees, but exclusive of the provision of a Gibraltar company) are as follows:

GBP £ 850 - exclusive of a Measurement and Tonnage Survey

Costs For The Setting Up Of A Gibraltar Company To Own A Yacht

FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED's costs for a Gibraltar company (assuming that one is required and that it is strictly a non-trading/holding vehicle) would be as follows:

Start-Up Fees:
Provision of a Gibraltar company GBP £ 300.00

Sub-Total Start-Up Costs GBP £ 300.00

Annual Fees:
Annual Domiciliation GBP £ 300.00, inclusive of:

  • Provision of Company Secretary
  • Registered Office services
  • Filing of Annual Return
  • Filing of Annual Balance Sheet

Provision of Registered Agent GBP £ 100.00
Renewal of Radio Licence GBP £ 100.00

Sub-Total Annual Costs GBP £ 500.00

The costs listed above refer exclusively to FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED's "YACHT REGISTRATION PACKAGE" and assume that no additional services such as the provision of Nominee facilities etc., would be required of us. Should it be anticipated that such services may be necessary, please refer to our Introductory Fees List appearing on this Website in order to determine the relevant costs.

Yacht Insurance

FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED will be pleased to assist with placing insurance for yachts at competitive rates through major insurance companies.

  • All costs appearing in this package are subject to review on a periodic basis and FORM-A-CO (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED reserves the right to amend fees for this service without prior notice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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