British Yacht Registration
International recognition, prestige and protection is afforded by the British Red Ensign. British yachts, wherever situated in the world, may seek assistance from any of the many British Embassies and Consulates throughout the world. Registration on the British Register of Shipping offers security and reliability.
On registration British Law applies to the yacht and the registration procedure provides conclusive proof of ownership of the yacht thus making the proving of legal title on transfer straightforward. The Register contains all the vital details concerning its yachts and requires all legal mortgages to be registered there. Consequently, by merely inspecting this public register, it can be ascertained whether a yacht is free from mortgage or not.
This provides a two-fold bonus:
- Title can be easily inspected offering the buyer security and title
- Enabling the seller to dispose of his yacht easily and quickly.
As the Register is open to inspection, it is easier and quicker to obtain mortgages by producing a transcript of Register to the potential mortgage showing conclusively that the vessel is free from encumbrances.
British Registration – Advantages:
The following are a number of the advantages of British registration.
- Reliability and security.
- Skippers need not have certificates of competency.
- Confidentiality can be maintained as the owner need not appear on the records of the Comp.
- Conclusive proof of title.
- Mortgages are easier to obtain.
- Various tax advantages.
Entitlement – The persons entitled to be owners of British Flag vessels are:
- British nationals
- Citizens of the European Union
- Companies incorporated in jurisdictions which are subject to UK laws, and have principal places of business in these locations
Non-British nationals can make use of companies registered in one of British dominions to own their vessels as only British persons can own British registered yachts. The vessels can then be registered in the names of their companies, with the owners or their nominees holding all the shares in the Company.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a popular British Port of Registry for yachts. International recognition prestige and protection is afforded by the British Red Ensign, which is flown by all Gibraltar registered vessels. Yachts registered in Gibraltar are registered as British flag vessels with documentation being identical to the UK requirements and are required to fly the Red Ensign. Gibraltar’s status within the EU is that it is a full EU member except that it is exempted from levying VAT as it does not form part of the EU’s Common Customs Tariff area.
For this reason, it is important to differentiate between countries falling within the EU’s CCT area and other EU territories such as Gibraltar. For the reasons described above, if you register your yacht in Gibraltar you pay:
- No VAT in Gibraltar
- No Import Duty (if your yacht is not based in Gibraltar)
- No tax on the sale of your vessel
- No inheritance tax and no death duties payable when the owner dies
- Under the laws applicable to yachts registered in Gibraltar in the name of limited companies it – is:
- Not necessary for shareholders or company directors to be nationals or residents of Gibraltar
- Not necessary for the vessel to be surveyed annually
- Not necessary for the skipper to hold any form of mariner’s certificate in the case of pleasure yachts under 80 GRT.
Ownership of a British Yacht by a Foreign National:
The Gibraltar Limited Company is a ‘British Person’. Therefore, any foreign national, through a Gibraltar company, can own and register his yacht on the Register of Shipping. The yacht may be registered in Gibraltar or in any other British Port.
There are effectively three ways in which you can own the shares in a Gibraltar company:
- Own name’s (your shareholding will appear at the Companies Registry, which is open to public inspection).
- In name of Nominees
A nominee director/shareholder is someone who in fact is renting his or her name to you. In other words, the name of this person is used and not yours for the incorporation documents. They are also taking the positions on paper of the company directors. The term of straw man or front man has been used to describe someone who is acting as the nominee. People use nominee directors/shareholders because they want to maintain their privacy and keep their name out of the public record for the masking of true ownership or as a protection mechanism.
We are able to provide the services of nominee company officers/shareholders:
Juridical person annual fee 450 £
Physical person annual fee 350 £
- The third possibility is for the shares to be held on discretionary trust. Again, this method is extensively used in Gibraltar. By having a discretionary trust the necessity of probate, which can often prove expensive and lengthy can be avoided. In this case the shares could be held by trustee on your behalf, under instructions as to how you wish the shares to devolve on death. This instruction is usually incorporated within a “memorandum of wishes”, and can be updated as frequently as necessary.
Through Nominees Company
A yacht owner can own the company in his own name or it can be held for him by a nominee company. If the company is held in the owner’s own name, then he appears as owner of the company at the Companies Registry in Gibraltar which is open to public inspection. Alternatively, if the company is held through our nominee company the nominee company’s name would appear on the record and the true identity of the owner remains confidential.
All vessels registered in Gibraltar be they in the name of Gibraltar companies or EU citizens, are required to appoint Registered Agents in Gibraltar who are entrusted with the annual renewal of the registration of the vessels for and on behalf of the Beneficial Owners of the vessels.
Yachts And VAT Within The European Union
Pleasure yachts built pre-1985 and in EU waters on 31st December 1992 are treated as VAT paid. Evidence that the yacht was in EU waters on this date may be required. VAT is normally charged on yachts, which are used within Common Customs Tariff waters, regardless of, whether the yacht is owned by a Gibraltar company. For this reason it is important to note that whether a yacht is registered in Gibraltar or any other British Flag port, it is also subject to the conditions imposed by other countries as to the length of time that it may remain in any port without becoming subject to Import Duty as a foreign registered vessel. Although VAT-free temporary importation status is still available to yachts, which do not spend more that six months in any year in CCT waters, this is conditional upon the yacht not being used by any EU residents during its time in CCT waters.
If a vessel which is seeking a transfer of its Port of Registry from a country within the Common Customs Tariff area to Gibraltar, has already paid VAT on its purchase value, it would be important to show that the “resale” of the vessel to the name of a Gibraltar company is effected within the CCT area in order to preserve its VAT-paid status.
EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar in the name of Gibraltar companies should note that any VAT levied by CCT member countries on their vessels would be conditional upon their status as EU citizens and not on their vessel’s Port of Registry. For this reason it would certainly be a bonus if those EU citizens seeking to re-register their vessels in Gibraltar and continue to use their vessels within CCT waters, have already paid VAT on their vessels.
Corporate Ownership – Tax Advantages
British corporate ownership offers tax advantages. Provided the owning company is Tax-exempt the company’s assets, namely the yacht, may not form part of the owner’s net wealth and therefore no Estate Duty may be payable on the death of the owner and no tax payable on charter income.
The usual situation is that an owner wishes to own his yacht through a nominee company and the yacht be registered on the British Register of Shipping. First of all the company is formed, to own the yacht and declarations of trust are executed by our nominee company in favour of the owner. Meanwhile a name for the yacht is cleared with the Register of Shipping.
The previous owner, or the client if he already owns the yacht, signs a Bill of Sale in favour of the Company. If the yacht is new the Builder’s Certificate is made in favour of the company. Before the yacht can be registered, it must be surveyed by an authorized measurer and a tonnage measurement taken. This survey merely ascertains the tonnage and is in no way an examination of the yacht’s condition. The surveyor’s fee is paid by the client.
Yachts holding International Tonnage Certificate are advised that under the rules for the registration of ships under the Merchant Shipping Acts of the United Kingdom, the vessels must be measured by authorized Surveyors recognized by the Department of Trade for the purposes of British Registry. Accordingly the yacht will still require a tonnage survey.
Once we received the Bill of Sale, the necessary applications are filed by us at the Port of Registry a Carving, and Marking Note will be issued. The Carving and Marking contains the registered tonnage, official number, name of yacht and the Port of registry. A Plaque will have to be made containing the registered tonnage and the official number. This plaque is then placed inside the yacht.
Cost of Registering A Yacht In Gibraltar
The costs for the services of registering a vessel in Gibraltar inclusive of all Registry fees exclusive of a Measurement and Tonnage
Survey is 900 £
Annual fees 385 £
Costs For The Setting Up Of A Gibraltar Non Resident Trading Company
Gibraltar Non Resident company package contains:
- Incorporation, legal address, local agent, Company Secretary, Nominee Directors and Shareholders, Corresponding address where your mail, phone/fax messages will be received and redirected 1395 £
Annual Fees 650 £
- Costs For Setting Up Of A Gibraltar Non Trading Company To Own A Yacht
If client wishes to form a Gibraltar company just to hold the title of a yacht and that it is strictly a non-trading/holding vehicle the cost would be 850 £
Annual Fees 380 £
Apart of the comprehensive registration service we offer undertake the registration changes of ownership of yachts, changes of name, transfers between British ports of registry or from foreign registries onto the British Register.
If you wish to sell your yacht we can prepare all the necessary documentation for the transfer of title of the yacht and if required we can also arrange for the deletion of the yacht from the British Register.
Bill of Sale composing 100 £
Company Certificate of solution 350 £
London business address (not a P.O. BOX) where your business mail would be received and remailed to your address anywhere in the world.
Annual fee 250 £
Your own London telephone/fax where voice or fax messages could be left and retransmitted to your phone/fax/email.
Annual fee 150 £
Each message 3 £, page 1 £english to swedish translator