Gibraltar deserves to have a higher profile; both as an international financial services centre and as an international marine services centre – and for yacht owners the two are very closely linked, according to Gabriel Gonzalez, director at Gibraltar-based RegisterAYacht (RAY).

RAY registers, administers and manages yachts – pleasure and commercial – on a worldwide basis. It also specialises in the provision of ownership structures, VAT and tax planning, yacht importation, safety and technical management, marine insurance and finance, crew administration and payroll, accounting and banking, foreign exchange and international payments. As the marine division of the Sovereign Group, RAY also offers particular expertise in corporate ownership and tax planning, as well as enjoying access to a global office network that includes Malta, London, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“The days of simply buying a boat and sailing off on the high seas are long gone. Large yachts are very complex and time-consuming assets to run; they may be engaged in commercial activities such as charter and leasing; they have employees – the skipper and crew; they have to meet a multitude of rules and regulations; and they are high value assets that may incur large tax liabilities,” says Gonzalez.

“That is why questions such as place of flag registration and use are now so important and why almost all large yachts, even if only used for pleasure purposes, are owned by companies or other structures that can offer legal liability, operational management and fiscal efficiency. And that is also why it is no longer enough for a marine centre to offer just a berth, refuelling and a chandlery. Modern marine services centres also need the facilities and expertise offered by an international financial services centre. Gibraltar offers both.

“With over 71,000 vessels transiting the Strait of Gibraltar each year, Gibraltar is established as a major bunkering port – the largest in the Mediterranean – and offers a wide range of other shipping services. In my view this could adapt very quickly towards a specialised yachting sector, especially now that we are seeing new marinas being built and new yachting firms opening.

“Just as importantly, Gibraltar is a Category 1 Red Ensign Group Register, the highest status that can be accorded to a ship register within the Red Ensign Group, and a well-established legal system based on British Maritime law. Gibraltar can also play a very important role when importing and exporting yachts in the EU and it is now common for the sale and purchase of yachts to take place in Gibraltar.

“Since the new EU customs code came into effect in May 2016, all yachts are now required to make an oral declaration with an EU custom authority in order to comply with temporary admission rules. Gibraltar is an ideal location to exit the EU VAT and custom territory and then arrange with the Spanish custom authorities for entering the EU under temporary admission rules. There are benefits for all yachts to stop in Gibraltar when entering and exiting the Med.”

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Gabriel Gonzalez
Director - Register a Yacht
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