Until now a Greek charter licence issued for five years was required for commercial yachts to be able to embark and disembark passengers in Greek waters. It was, however, possible to proceed with one of the two without a charter licence (embark or disembark passengers in Greece). Issuance of Greek charter licences was reserved only to EU flagged yachts and non-EU flagged yachts were not allowed to charter. Further to this, foreign EU entities had to open a branch office in Greece, apply for a local VAT number and pay VAT in Greece on charter fees.
The new legislation ends the necessity to obtain a charter licence and enables passengers to embark and disembark in Greek waters. This also includes the abolition of the ten per cent Luxury Tax that has previously been imposed on pleasure yachts. “EU commercial flagged yachts and non-EU commercial flagged yachts of over 35m (providing they are larger than 35m, built of metal or GRP and can carry over 12 passengers) can now charter from Greece (embark and disembark passengers) by opening a Branch Office or by appointing fiscal representative (TBC) and registering online with the 'Registry of Touristic Yachts and Small Vessels' and submitting an application to the Ministry of Mercantile Marine and Aegean,” explains Xanthopoulos.
“These yachts are obliged to conduct minimum days of charter over a three year period,” she adds. “This is a minimum of 75 days if the yacht is chartered with crew or 25 days for classic yachts and a further 5-20 per cent reduction depending on the age of the yacht. For commercial yachts, a declaration should be made to the port of embarkation 48 hours prior to departure and charter agreement submitted.”
"The future will tell us how these new measures will be applied, whether they will have a real impact on the charter business and whether Greece will attract more yachts now that they have relaxed their rules.”
“There are no changes on VAT and de-taxed fuel for commercial yachts but this is still to be confirmed,” Xanthopoulos explains. So far, no VAT has been applied to EU foreign flagged yachts starting their charter in Greece or partially chartering in Greece. Yachts under the Greek flag and EU flagged yachts having obtained a charter licence have had to pay VAT on charters starting in Greek waters. The Greek VAT applicable for non-static charters stands at 13 per cent for one or two days charter and 6.5 per cent for over 48 hours charter. "Fuel in certain cases can be purchased without duty and local taxes," she adds.
“These are very recent changes and we will have to wait and see how these will work and be implemented in practice,” concludes Xanthopoulos. “The future will tell us how these new measures will be applied, whether they will have a real impact on the charter business and whether Greece will attract more yachts now that they have relaxed their rules.”