Recent reports about the sojourn tax update in Croatia have painted a picture of the change that is not only sensationalist, but also inaccurate. The spread of the misinformation has been perpetuated because of a misinterpretation of the information provided by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism.
“The sojourn tax has been in effect since 1st of January 2009 and prices haven’t been changed since 2010,” starts Maja Ban, director of MYS Yachting in Croatia. “However, until now, the tax has, sometimes, been applied incorrectly in the superyacht market because it was wrongly interpreted. The main interpretive error was that the tax was to be levied based on the duration that a superyacht remained in Croatia. In reality, the charge should be applied based on the duration of the stay of the persons on board the vessels, with differing costs and systems applied to commercial and private yachts.”
Every yacht that enters Croatia and berths in a marina will have to pay the tax before they are free to cruise in Croatian waters. There are two criteria that determine the amount that is owed by private vessel. Firstly, the rate is dependent on the size of the vessel. Secondly, the rate will vary depending on the length of stay of the persons on board the vessel.
“The issues have arisen because those who have been levying the costs have been connecting the rate charged with the length of time that the superyacht remains in Croatia, rather than the people that are on board,” continues Ban. “For charter vessels that begin in Croatia, it is necessary to pay €1.08 (8HRK) per person, per day that they are in Croatia. Charter vessels that are coming to Croatia after starting charter in an EU country must pay the same sojourn tax as private vessel, so based on vessel's length and number of days that persons will be on board in Croatia.” The domestic charter figure was raised from 7HRK to 8HRK in 2018, a nominal increase at most.
It is for private vessels that the update has been most grossly misunderstood. There has, admittedly, been a significant rise in the rates charged for private yacht users. However, due to the transitional nature of superyachts, the increase in costs will be relatively small when considered in line with the numerous other expenses involved in the superyacht lifestyle.
For smaller yachts that, perhaps, wish to spend the summer in Croatia, the cost increase is significant. To take an example, a 16m vessel that wished to cruise in Croatia for a month, assuming the owner and their guests were on board every day, would have paid a sojourn tax fee of €94 in 2017, this figure has increased to €267 in 2018. Some boat owners are rightly annoyed.
For a 30-day stay, the cost has increased from €134 to €401 for a 20m-plus yacht (see slider image). In percentage terms the differential is large, in realistic terms, it is a small additional contribution given the value of the vessel and the affluence of those on board. It should also be noted that this cost is not per person and the cost is not based on how long the yacht remains in Croatia. Theoretically, should a private vessel wish to stay in Croatia for a year, but the owner and their guests were only on board for two weeks of that year, the charge would only be levied for the period the owner and guests were on board.
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