During Superyacht Fiscal in Barcelona last week, delegates had the rare opportunity to listen to a presentation given by Javier Valencia Alonso, harbourmaster of Barcelona, regarding how commercial yachts can obtain a charter licence in Spanish waters. 

Javier Valencia Alonso

“Charter is considered, regarding Spanish interpretation of EU legislation, as the coastal transport of passengers (12 or less) in EU member waters,” explained Alonso. “This activity is reserved for EU-flagged vessels.” 

According to this interpretation, only EU flagged yachts can be authorised, at present, for charter activities in Spanish waters. The Balearics is an exception to this rule, as the government there has allowed for the charter of non-EU flagged yachts. “Notwithstanding, this requirement could be changed in the future depending on an uniform and harmonised EU legal interpretation,” Alonso added.

In order to conduct charter activities in Spain, EU-flagged yachts must obtain a charter permit, which is issued to the vessel for one year. Speaking to the audience at Superyacht Fiscal, Alonso provided a breakdown of the documents that must be submitted by the operator of the vessel, or its legal representative, alongside the charter permit request form, in order to obtain the permit:

  • Identification document of the applicant and the owner of the vessel;
  • Statement of responsibility;
  • Operating or leasing contract: where applicable, whether the activity is exercised by person or entity other than the owner;
  • Certificate of Registry issued by flag with clear mention of  ‘commercial’ status. If the country of flag does not mention the commercial activity, a written declaration from this country that the vessel can take part in commercial activities and its conditions shall be provided.This written declaration can be supplied by the Certificate of Compliance of the flag, provided that it specifies the rating for the commercial activity;
  • Minimum Safe Manning Certificate: issued by the country of flag (STCW and SOLAS 74/78);
  • Certificate of Class in force: if it isn’t classified, a Certificate of Compliance from the country of flag must be provided;
  • A document of Agencia Tributaria: either waiver or payment of the “Impuesto especial sobre determinados medios de transporte”  (a means of transport tax payable to the Finance office);
  • Insurance: accreditation of compulsory civil liability insurance and travelers accident insurance. If you do not have the Compulsory Travelers Insurance, an accident insurance that includes the minimum coverage established in 1575/1989 for persons on board should be valid;
  • Certificates of Competency of crewmembers: qualifications issued by the flag’s country of the vessel that must be sufficient for the intended navigation. Certificates issued by maritime authorities of other nationalities must have endorsement from the country of the flag of the vessel. In cases where it can not be endorsed, written declaration from the country of the flag regarding the suitability of the qualifications of the crew must be provided;
  • If the crew are Spanish, or the company is located in Spain, an employment contract of the crewmember and social security registration will be required;
  • If the crew are foreign or the company is located outside Spain, just a  copy of the employment contract is needed.

Following the correct presentation and checking of all documentation, and a successful Port State Control inspection, the Maritime Authority will issue a "Resolución de Despacho por tiempo", or charter permit, which enables the applicant to exercise the activity over the course of one year.

Alonso's full presentation, which provides helpful model examples of documentation, can be read here: Yacht&Superyacht Charter_1.