New spanish charter regulation 2020

The new Service Instruction number 03/2020 was signed by the General Directorate of Merchant Marine Mr. Benito Núñez Quintanilla on 16/07/2020 replacing the Service Instruction number 10/2019 in force since July last year.

The new Service Instruction introduces some clarifications and continues with the effort to simplify the procedure for commercial yachts in order to receive a charter license in Spain. The principle changes of this new regulation, concerning yachts >24m, can be summarized as follows:

It has been approved a unique format for the charter license, which is enforceable in any master harbor of Spain. Until now the charter licenses issued in different regions of Spain had different formats, which led to some confusion regarding their operational and territorial scope validity. The new Service Instruction clearly determines that a charter license issued in one particular region of Spain will be valid in any other region of the country without necessity of applying for a new one. This was in fact accepted in the past, but the amendment clearly clarifies this principle.

The new regulation reinforces the possibility to work on the basis of copies of original documents and to provide private translations when required, instead of sworn translations. In this regard, we must remind that the last year Instruction already removed the necessity to provide translations for documents produced in English.

The new Service Instruction seeks to simplify the verification of crew certificates. The mechanism in place until now requested the submission of certificates for that crew covering the minimum manning positions. This mechanism is still in place, but the new regulation accepts that the verification of the crew certificates can be replaced by a letter of comfort issued by the yacht flag Administration confirming the capacity of the crew on board.

The licensing process is still divided in two steps. The first consists in the review of the applicant yacht owning company documentation and yacht certificates. Upon review of this set of documents, the yacht will is included in a database of the General Directorate of Merchant Marine for a period of two years. Last year regulation stipulated that the validity of this inclusion would be one year if the yacht was not chartering in Spain in the first year of validity of such document. Now the validity is extended to two years regardless, there is chartering activity or not.

The second part of the licensing process, as it happened until now, involves applying for the final charter the master harbor office where the yacht is expected to start its navigation in Spanish waters. This second step involves the submission of any yacht or crew certificate that might have expired since the yacht was included in the Merchant Marine database.

Another interesting aspect, although this was already being applied by the different master harbor offices of Spain, is that clarifies the possibility for non EU flagged yachts to receive a charter license. This particular aspect seems a clear move in order to prevent potential consequences in case it would take place a hard BREXIT. In any event, British or any other third country flagged yachts will be eligible to get a charter license anywhere in Spain. It is important to remind that this point is not applicable to yachts <14m which will have to be Spanish or EU flag. Meantime until December 2020, yachts British flagged yachts <14m still can receive a charter license in Spain.

Finally, the different periods of validity of the charter licenses continue depending on whether the yacht holds Spanish, EU or non EU flag. It is established that for yachts registered under Spanish or EU flag the charter license will be valid for a maximum period of one year, whereas for non EU registered yachts the maximum period will be three months. The previous periods could be restricted in case a particular yacht certificates expire before.

As it happened last year, Tax Marine & Aviation, under the umbrella of the Barcelona Nautical Cluster, has actively working and proposing simplifications in the licensing procedure with the General Directorate of Merchant Marine. In our view it would have been desirable to simplify even more the process in particular to what concern obtaining the final cruising permit. In this regard the ideal process would involve the submission of a simple communication by the yacht upon arrival to Spanish waters. That communication together with the previous inclusion of the yacht in the database of the General Directorate of Merchant Marine and the Affidavit of responsibility submitted by the yacht owning company, as part of the licensing process, should have been sufficient to commence the chartering activities in Spain. At the moment the current process, involves that the final cruising permit is subject to another approval by the master harbor office where the yacht is expected to start its navigation. This second approval of the yacht conditions is producing delays in receiving the charter licenses, especially during the summer season, when the Maritime Authorities are under a big stress due to the large number of applications submitted.

In any event, the new Service Instruction is an important development and a new effort of the Spanish Maritime Administration to continue encouraging the superyacht chartering activity. We are confident, the procedure will continue simplifying in the near future.

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