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ISDMT Tax Crackdown Begins in Torrevieja, Alicante, Spain

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 09, 2009 08:01 PM

Published: 2009-01-09 20:01:07
Countries: Spain

See article, written June 2008, for background information on ISDMT Tax.

ISDMT (or Matriculation) Tax, is levied on boat owners who stay in Spain for more than 183 days in total (aggregate not sequential) in any one year. It is exactly the same tax that people have to pay when they "import" (bring permanently) their family car into Spain because they have moved there.

It is believed that this tax relates to the amount of days the boat owner resides in Spain, not the boat itself. However there does appear to be some confusion over this, and current forum chats are speculating that the taxation rule applies to any "foreign" boat present in Spanish waters for more than 183 days, not just those being lived aboard.

Whilst the central government in Madrid handed out the right to impose this tax to the regional governments in 1992, it has not been enforced until this year. And now it appears that the Valencian government in particular are very active in levying it.

Reports suggest that there is a current crackdown on the collection of this tax in Torrevieja (Alicante). It appears that the Guardia Civil have formed a separate division to collect this Tax, catching you on your boat and serving you papers. You will not be able to move your boat until the 12% tax has been paid, and you are required to pay the money within 4 weeks or further action will be taken.

There have reportedly been over 10 boats that have been served the papers in Torrevieja, and each boat has paid the 12% tax (of the value of the boat, minus a sum for each year of the boats life).

So far, the Guardia has only targeted the International marina in Torrevieja, not the other two. Most of the people caught have indeed been living in Spain (with their boats) for more than 183 days per year.

The implications of paying this tax however are not just about finding the money. If you do not volunteer and pay the tax, you could be fined for every year you have not paid it plus interest on the non-paid tax. To become Spanish registered, the boat must comply with all Spanish regulations regarding certification, seaworthiness, equipment levels etc. Plus - the owner must show evidence of their competence to skipper a Spanish registered boat, by taking a Spanish skippers exam (in Spanish).

This will likely cause a problem for those foreigners who do not have a good command of the Spanish language and undoubtedly it will mean quite a number of liveaboard cruisers will move on to “friendlier” ports.

Sail World also reported on this matter today.

Please note – that anchoring in Torrevieja harbour is also now limited to one or two days only.