There’s a lot to consider when buying a boat in Europe. We explain how to go about finding a reputable seller and what to expect during the buying process

Post completion

After buying a boat in Europe, the final things you need to arrange are registration and paying tax on your vessel

Post// If you’ve brought a boat in Europe then it’s most likely going to be flagged in the country from which you purchased it.

Depending on what you plan to do with the boat, you need to decide whether to leave the registration as it is or register the vessel with another country.

Yachting Lawyer’s Hannah Cash says: “Boats can only be registered in one jurisdiction at a time so in order to make an application to get it registered here you need to apply to get it de-registered in the country you bought it from.”

After buying a boat, there are two things you can do:

1. Get yourself put down as the new owner and take over the boat’s registration
2. Get the boat de-registered and then make an application for the boat to be registered somewhere else

Hannah Cash added: “Unless there is a particular reason as to why you want the boat registered under a European flag, you’re better off registering it in the UK due to tax reasons.”

There are a number of tax implications for using or keeping a boat in another country. We’ve outlined some of the main countries below:

From the 15th July 2013, VAT is chargeable on all charters in French waters. The applicable tax is 20%, however the taxable base can be reduced by 50% where the charted is outside EU waters.

If you’re a Spanish resident a registration tax of 12% applies whether the boat is kept in Spain or not. VAT of 16% also applies.

If you’re not a Spanish resident then a registration tax of 0% applies, meanwhile a VAT of 16% applies, whether the boat is kept in Spain or not.

Foreign citizens who won a vessel in Italy are exempt from the annual berthing tax.

There is no annual berthing tax in Turkey but you yacht registration costs $30 a year. If your vessel leaves Turkish waters then you will have to pay this again when you re-enter. If ownership of the yacht changes then this will also have to be paid again.

A new yacht tax is to be introduced in Greece in April 2014, however an official date has not yet been set. Boats will not have to produce receipts for tax until the collection system has been working for a period.

Boats being stored ashore do not have to pay this tax as they will be treated as if they were not in Greek waters.

The new tax applies to all boats, including ones from outside the European Union.

For boats 12.1m or more, a full calendar year is €(100 x LOA) or €1,240 for a 12.4m boat. Two options exist to reduce this payment:

1. Pay per month at €(10 x LOA) or €124 for 12.4m. This is recommended for boats spending less than seven months a year in the water. Seven months in the water (April to October) would then cost €868. It is not clear if it is possible to pay for 3 or 4 months ahead, or whether one payment each month will be needed.
2. If the boat spends more than 11 months a year in Greek territory, (afloat or ashore) it pays 30% less than the full rate. That is the same as paying for 7 separate months (€868 for 12.4m) but more convenient and flexible. This may be a suitable option for full time live-aboards.

Boats 12m or Less
Boats of 12m and less pay a single fee on arrival in Greece or on launching. This will permit them to cruise for the rest of that calendar year in Greek waters. There are three bands: 7.1m to 8m, €200; 8.1m to 10m, €300; and 10.1m to 12m, €400.

VAT on charter is set at 13% for charters starting in Croatia.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Survey
  3. 3. Completion of sale
  4. 4. Post completion
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