Formal clarification on the parameters that need to be met in order to qualify for commercial VAT exemption in France are to be issued by the government by the end of March, according to Ince & Co, whose Le Havre- and Paris-based lawyers have been involved in consultations with the French government.

In an exclusive conversation with, which supplemented a guidance note distributed at the Ince & Co. Yacht Seminar, Freddy Desplanques, who has been part of the consultations said the VAT Directive will formalise the terms of exemption, resolving the vagaries that have surfaced since the French Commercial Exemption regime was declared illegal by the European Commission in 2013.

“The French tax authorities have been in discussion about the new criteria and now we know that the new tax instruction drawn up by the French tax authorities has been approved by the EU Commission”, he explained. “With the new rules you will have to respect the criteria this year in order to benefit from exemption next year. The idea is to make things simpler.”

Desplanques went on to say the rules specify that at least 70 per cent of voyages in a given tax year must have taken place outside of French territorial waters, and that a voyage will be defined begin and end with the changing of the passengers on board – a charter.

Proving that a voyage has been undertaken outside French waters has not been specified. But Desplanques said, “My understanding is that we will apply the same way of [monitoring this] as we have before. If you can prove you have left French territorial waters with information in your logbook, or a print-out from your AIS that should be enough to [provide] evidence.” He added that there were no rules on distance outside French waters, or time spent outside specified in the draft.

French waters are currently the subject of a raft of changes.

While it seems that the French industry is moving closer towards clear clarification on the parameters of commercial operation, the battle it is facing with the government over a proposed cruising tax continues.

Mirna Cieniewicz, secretary general of European Boating Industry, contacted following the assembly in Paris of 10 industry associations to present a petition against the introduction of the legislation.

“This petition aims at forcing the French government to withdraw the Article 18.a - introducing the mooring tax in marine protected areas - from the law, and at the same time send a strong message to the French Senate that, in case the Article 18.a is maintained in the law to vote, they should vote against it and reject it.

“The vote is planned for two weeks, with no fixed date for the time being. This is the very last chance to have Article 18.a either withdrawn by the government or rejected by the Senate during this last vote. The petition has over 1,200 signatures now and we hope it will continue to grow.”

The Ince & Co. team will be among the attendees at this year's Superyacht Management Meeting: Fiscal, taking place in Monaco on 28 April. This event represents a new frontier for the industry, where key stakeholders will assemble to affect genuine change.

For event information please contact Clara Saladich, Event Coordinator, by emailing or calling +44 (0) 207 924 4004.

For sponsorship opportunities please contact Roland Archdall, Commercial Director, by emailing

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