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Greek Charter Licences Explained

Benefits of a Greek Charter Licence

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In 2017, Greek authorities changed the regulations surrounding yacht charters, meaning that all EU-flagged and non-EU flagged yachts over 35 metres being commercially operated, i.e. available for charter, must hold a Greek Charter Licence to cruise exclusively within Greek waters. 

As a charterer, you might be interested to learn that there are a number of perks in chartering a yacht that holds this certificate. Read on to learn all about Greek Charter Licenses and the benefits to you.

Yacht charters in Greece

Greek yacht charters have become increasingly popular over the years, and it’s clear to see why; boasting year-round sunshine, vast historical monuments and world heritage sites, not to mention world-class beaches, utopian turquoise waters, lush island clusters and renowned warm Greek hospitality, it’s small wonder it has become one of the most popular yacht charter destinations on the planet. 

Beautiful Oia town in Santorini, Greece
Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos, GreeceSunset in Greece

As a result of increasing competition from foreign-flagged vessels conducting commercial charters in Greece, the Greek authorities decided to impose new measures in order to assert greater control over who could charter in their waters, thereby protecting their own commercial fleet.

In November 2017, the Greek parliament passed a new law introducing significant changes to the commercial charter sector, ending old cabotage rules and giving rise to the Greek Charter Licence.

Greek Charter Licence: the basics

The news rules state that Owners of EU flagged yachts and non-EU flagged yachts over 35 meters wishing to conduct commercial charters in Greece must now hold a Greek Charter Licence. 

In order to procure a licence for the yacht, the Owner must first jump through several hoops, including;

  • Securing a foreign commercial yacht inspection certificate
  • Applying for VAT exemption and trading as a Greek licensed foreign flag commercial yacht
  • Obtaining a Greek Tax Identification Number
  • Establishing a tangible presence in Greece (although this step can mitigated by using a local charter management company)

The yacht must also conduct a number of commercial charters in Greek waters, calculated by a predetermined amount of days over a 3 year period, which decreases commensurate with the age of the yacht. 

MY O'Ptasia in the Corinthe Canal

Once they have successfully completed the process, which can take roughly between 1-2 months, they will be granted a 3-year licence, subject to conditions.

Benefits of a Greek Charter Licence to the charterer

As a charterer there a number of benefits that you can enjoy when you rent a yacht with a Greek Charter Licence for cruising around Greece, chiefly;

  • Reduced VAT (see below)
  • Free embarkation and disembarkation from any Greek port
  • Fuel is either purchased duty-free or net of VAT/local taxes
  • Freedom to cruise anywhere within Greece waters (with no formalities required)

What about VAT?

The current VAT rate in Greece is 24%. From 1 June 2000 this rate was reduced for the services of transport of people and their luggage to 13%, which applies to all yachts (over 24 meters) cruising exclusively within Greek waters.

For voyages that include time spent in international waters, VAT is calculated based on the following;

  • For yachts cruising international waters without approaching port, the VAT discount is 60% (payable at a rate of 5.2% of the yacht’s base charter fee)
  • For yachts that depart from a Greek port and conduct long navigations, the VAT discount is 50% (payable at a rate of 6.5% of the yacht’s base charter fee)
  • For yachts that depart from a Greek port and conduct short navigations, the VAT discount is 40% (payable at a rate of 7.8% of the yacht’s base charter fee)
  • For yachts that spend any time in coastal international waters, the VAT discount is 30% (payable at a rate of 9.6% of the yacht’s base charter fee)

Currently, the flat rate of 13% is being used for yacht charters, which avoids complicated calculations based on time spent outside of Greek waters.

These discounted rates will continue until June 2022, with a possible further extension till October 2022, which is great news for those hoping to incorporate a yacht charter around Greece next summer.

An aerial shot of a euro-shaped island with a yacht

Overall, these discounts can equate to a substantial saving for the charterer, and coupled with the spectacular cruising grounds on offer in Greece, you can start to see why yachts that carry a Greek Charter License hold massive appeal. 

Can yachts without a Greek Charter Licence cruise in Greece?

In a nutshell, yes, provided the charter starts and ends in international waters, such as in Italy or Albania for charters wishing to incorporate the Ionian Islands, or Turkey for itineraries that include the Aegean archipelagos.

In this case, the yacht is not required to hold a Greek Charter Licence, but will be liable to VAT in the country of embarkation.  

Please note that the rules regarding VAT and itineraries incorporating travel outside of Greek waters are continually evolving, therefore we advise that you speak with your yacht charter broker for further clarification before you travel.

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Need more advice?

To learn more about travelling in Greece on your luxury yacht charter, please read our comprehensive Greece yacht charter destination guide, which offers lots of useful information and tips.

For any further information about booking or chartering a luxury yacht, please take a look at our comprehensive advice guides.

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