The Ships Registry in Jersey registered more vessels last year than in any of the previous 30 years. Against a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the difficulties created by the global pandemic, we thought it would be interesting to consider what drove this perhaps unlikely statistic.
For some owners (or their significant others) 2020 might well have been the year to finally sell the boat. However it is evident from the level of new registrations at the Jersey Registry that more people than ever now believe that it is the time to 'get on the water'. Indeed, according to the intermediaries that we have been speaking to, there has been a significant uptick of late in interest in boating right across the British Isles and at all levels. In Jersey, this seems to be the case with registered transaction values ranging from relatively modest sums for sailing yachts and sport fishing boats, to be enjoyed locally, to multi-million pound sums for 100ft+ pleasure yachts suitable for international cruising, often actually kept far away from Jersey.
Among those people buying boats we think there are changing attitudes towards international air-travel in light of the pandemic. For many it will remain difficult to travel in 2021 and they may see boating as a type of 'staycation'. Some may feel uncomfortable with all but essential air-travel for the foreseeable, whether it is possible to do so (enjoyably) or not. Meanwhile for those purchasing some of the largest vessels in the market, they most likely see the possibility of getting the family or friends together safely and privately and cruising in Europe, under their own steam.
Assistant Registrar at the Jersey Register of Ships, Debbie Podger, agrees and also highlights Jersey's great location. "Jersey's close proximity to the French coast makes boat ownership here attractive", says Debbie. "Even some of the smallest vessels are taken on day trips to France. When travelling to Europe, whatever the size of their vessel, owners will require a certificate proving its nationality, which they can obtain through registration with us."
With a seafaring heritage, boat ownership in Jersey is traditionally popular among residents, while for non-residents registration in Jersey is attractive for several reasons. Highly reputable and with a 200 year history, the Jersey Registry is part of the Red Ensign Group, which alongside other active ship registries such as those in the BVI and Cayman, confers the right to fly the British Red Ensign. It operates with devolved authority from the UK, as Flag State, under the supervision of the UK Secretary of State for Transport. It is responsible for the performance and safety of its registered ships and maintains the highest international maritime standards. All of that said, the Jersey Registry is renowned for being highly personable and straightforward to deal with, whether you are registering a vessel for the first time, changing its ownership (and perhaps its name) or registering a mortgage. It is surrounded by a wealth of local expertise, to assist with all aspects of boat ownership and management.
Crucially, registration provides proof of ownership worldwide and, for those who require finance for a purchase, allows the owner to mortgage their vessel. There are a number of high quality and very active brokerages and asset finance providers in Jersey with appetite to lend in this area.
Appleby recently acted for a UK bank financing the acquisition by a Guernsey company of a yacht registered in Jersey. Our expertise in asset finance, our knowledge of the sector and our proximity to the Jersey registry makes Appleby a great choice for buyers or financiers of vessels in Jersey. We have similar capabilities across our network.
Entitlement to register in Jersey extends to all Commonwealth and EU citizens. The position Post-Brexit is worth considering. Depending on where a recreational boat was located at the end of the Brexit transition period it may have lost any EU-VAT paid 'Union' status and if so, subject to certain reliefs, may now be subject to import duty and VAT (perhaps for a second time) on (re)entering the customs territories of either the EU27 or the UK. We understand that the UK marine industry is lobbying relevant authorities for further clarity on the position and perhaps additional reliefs, particularly in light of the pandemic.
In the meantime it will be of some relief that UK owners wishing to sail in the EU may now make use of the long standing EU temporary admissions regime available to non-EU residents, which generally allows non-EU registered boats to enter the EU for up to 18 months before becoming liable for customs duties and import VAT. This regime was already available for non-EU residents with boats registered in Jersey and remains so.
We do not think that Brexit implications have had a material influence on the number of registrations in Jersey to date, but in light of the UK and Jersey no longer being in a customs union with the EU, it is important that before purchasing a boat, owners consider where it is likely to be kept (immediately and perhaps in retirement) and ultimately where they might wish to sell it.
Meanwhile, in Bermuda, having sponsored the Americas Cup in 2017, this year Appleby is proud to sponsor the 2021 SailGP Bermuda Grand Prix. The two-day, live-televised sailing event on 24 & 25 April will launch SailGP's Season 2 and includes eight national teams: Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States. The races will follow a month-long training camp in the magnificent blue waters of Bermuda's Great Sound. As the world's most cutting-edge sail racing league, SailGP is the first climate-positive sports organisation, going beyond a net zero carbon footprint in all business and event operations.
Originally Published by Appleby, March 2021
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