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UK Registered Yachts In Spain & France

By doina — last modified Sep 27, 2005 10:45 AM

Published: 2005-09-27 10:45:36
Countries: France , Spain

I am an MCA Approved Surveyor working through MECAL Ltd, one of the principal Certifying Authorities for UK registered Small Commercial Vessels. I live and work in South East Spain and have colleages in the Balearics and in Southern France. In response to emails by R Tomlinson in Noonsite Report Authorities in Mallorca, Spain Apply Wealth Tax To Yachts

it is absolutely correct to say that ALL UK flagged vessels operating commercially (which includes the "odd trip round the bay" type of charter and loan "to friends", if for beneficial gain/cash etc) are subject to the UK Merchant Shipping Laws and in the case of vessels under 24m in length, these are normally the Codes of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels. Such vessels are subject to very strict standards and are surveyed by professional and approved marine surveyors, to include stability, structure and safety equipment - the standards applied are correctly quite onerous on owners.

The Codes of Practice include manning standards, very often RYA commercially endorsed qualifications are needed. Bareboat charter is permitted under certain conditions. UK flagged vessels based abroad are provided with a "certificate of Equivalence" and are also required to comply with any relevent local legislation. The rules are in existence and have been for some years. The difficulty is of course policing them. Public awareness is perhaps poor and awareness by foreign marine officials maybe non-existent. The MCA maintains the master database of all coded craft and not only can they easily check if a particular vessel is coded, they welcome information on vessels operating commercially which are non-compliant. They have and will, prosecute owners of transgressing craft and such a case was reported in the glossy yachting magazines within the last year, the vessel in question being operated on the Med coast of France. The message is clear - if you suspect a craft is improperly used commercially, advise the MCA and they have the powers to take appropriate action. In this way, genuine commercial operators are protected from the cowboys and, more importantly, the public is protected also.

I am fully aware of the requirement for Spanish residents (including Spaniards!!!) to register their vessels in Spain. Sure, I have come across Spaniards who register in the UK but these people are breaking the laws of Spain even if they do not charter out.

My best advice is furnish the MCA with as much information as you receive on these matters and encourage the MCA to make a greater effort towards public awareness of the truth of UK small commercial vessels. In the latter, I recently had articles published in 2 local English language newspapers here on the Costa Blanca, to improve public awareness and discourage the sorts of activities mentioned by contributor R Tomlinson.

Andy Petty

UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency