A boat show held in September in Genoa, provided the opportunity to present the most recent edition of the Nautica e Fisco booklet issued by the Nautical Association Industry and the Revenue Agency. The booklet covers legal and fiscal developments in the nautical industry, including issues from registration to custom and fiscal matters.

This update looks at some of the issues reported in the latest edition of the booklet.

Exporting a yacht from Italy

If a yacht is sold to a purchaser based outside of the European Union, the transaction is deemed to be exempt from value added tax (VAT), provided that:

  • the yacht is transported outside the European Union within 90 days from its delivery date; and
  • a custom export form is completed.

But how can an exporter prove that the yacht has been transported out of the European Union? There was uncertainty in this regard previously.

In May 2016 the Customs Agency issued Circular 14/D, which clarified the methods available to an exporter to provide evidence confirming the transportation of a yacht out of EU waters. According to the circular, there are two alternative methods available:

  • For a yacht over 24 metres in length, the exporter can file a declaration from the master or owner confirming that the yacht has reached international waters (ie, over 12 nautical miles from the baseline) with the relevant customs authority. The declaration must be accompanied by evidence which confirms the yacht's position through an automatic identification system satellite service on board the yacht and monitored and confirmed by the local harbour master.
  • The yacht owner can supply evidence of the yacht's arrival in a port located outside the European Union. This method is the only option available to prove the export of yachts under 24 metres in length.

Through one of the above methods, a yacht can be confirmed as having left EU waters and will therefore comply with both customs duties and VAT regimes.

Usage in high seas and VAT exemption

On January 12 2017 the Revenue Agency released Resolution 2/E, which clarified what constitutes usage of a commercial yacht in the high seas. In Italy, supplies (eg, the supply of foods and provisions, bunkers, refitting works and repairs) to commercial yachts are exempt from VAT, provided that:

  • the yacht is to be used for commercial activity; and
  • the yacht will be operating in the high seas.

The resolution clarifies the meaning of 'navigating in high seas'. A yacht can be considered to be navigating in the high seas if more than 70% of its voyages in the previous calendar year took place in the high seas. The definition of 'voyage' was not included in the resolution, however, the Nautica e Fisco indicates that a voyage is considered to be every navigation between two different ports, whereby commercial operations are taking place (ie, the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, excluding 'technical' voyages, such as sea trials, transfers and repositioning).

Temporary importation regime and refitting services

A non-EU yacht can be imported into the European Union and be exempt from customs duties and VAT if it is imported under the temporary importation regime, provided that:

  • it is registered under a non-EU shipping registry;
  • the yacht is registered in the name of a party based outside the European Union; and
  • the person using the yacht is based outside the European Union.

If the above criteria are met, a non-EU yacht is eligible for temporary importation for a period of 18 months.

It was previously possible to suspend the 18-month period if the yacht was in the European Union but was not being used (eg, it was stored ashore during the winter). However, under the new EU Customs Code, the ability to suspend this period has been abolished.

Yachts under the temporary importation regime should not be modified during their stay in EU waters. However, repairs, maintenance and refitting are not classified as modification and can therefore be completed under a temporary importation regime without the need to re-export the yacht immediately after the work is finished.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.

For further information on this topic please contact Marco Manzone at Dardani Studio Legale by telephone (+39 010 576 1816) or email (marco.manzone@dardani.it). The Dardani Studio Legale website can be accessed at www.dardani.it.