Ian Watts – providing legal services in Gibraltar since 2002
Choosing where to register your yacht
Registration of a yacht is undoubtedly a strategic decision and can depend on a host of variables – ranging from tax mitigation, whether you are a high net-worth individual seeking to charter your vessel in EU waters, commercial confidentiality to safety/security at sea. It would therefore be wrong to assume that there exists a “best” place in which to register a yacht. Although there are invariably many international jurisdictional players in mind, Gibraltar is nevertheless one of the attractive choices that should be considered when considering to flag a yacht offshore.
Gibraltar as British Port of Registry
The Red Ensign Group
Gibraltar is a BOT and therefore hosts a British Port of Registry. Along with the UK Ship Registry, and the Registries located in Bermuda, The Cayman Islands, The British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man, Gibraltar’s Ship Registry forms part of the “Red Ensign Group” and is internationally recognised as a “Category 1” administration within that Group.
Principles of English Law & International Conventions in force
Gibraltar Law is based on the principles of English Law and therefore the jurisdictional laws pertaining to yachts registered in Gibraltar are synchronised to a very large extent with the laws of a highly experienced seafaring nation. The governing legislation in Gibraltar is the Gibraltar Merchant Shipping (Registration) Act 1995 which applies to both commercial vessel and pleasure yachts registered in Gibraltar. Furthermore, various International Agreements & Conventions relating to shipping and sea safety that the UK has ratified have been ‘extended’ by her to Gibraltar – e.g. SOLAS 1974. Moreover, compliance with the requirements of the UK MCA’s Large Commercial Yacht Code (LYC) and the Passenger Yacht Code (PYC) apply in Gibraltar.
The benefits of the Red Ensign
Yachts fagged in Gibraltar bear the defaced Red Ensign. The Red Ensign flag not only grants you the protections of the Royal Navy while at sea, but also equips you with a maritime flag with solid international acceptance and reputation.
Yachts registered in the name of Gibraltar Companies
Many yachts registered in Gibraltar are registered under Gibraltar Companies given the many benefits that incorporation can confer. Gibraltar as a burgeoning and well-regulated Offshore Finance Centre offers an attractive fiscal system – notably, there is no Value Added Tax (VAT), Capital Gains Tax (CGT), nor Wealth or Inheritance Taxes leviable in Gibraltar.
The benefits of registering a yacht in Gibraltar will ultimately depend on the facts of the particular scenario.
For further information about registering a yacht in Gibraltar, please contact Ian Watts.
©Ian Watts, Barrister-at-Law, 2017-2023. All Rights Reserved.