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Greek Charter Licences Explained

Benefits of a Greek Charter Licence


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 about Greek Charter Licenses (GCL) and how they can benefit you.

Yacht charters in Greece

Greece yacht charters have become increasingly popular over the years, and it’s clear to see why; boasting year-round sunshine, a wealth of historical monuments and World Heritage sites, not to mention world-class beaches, astonishing scenic beauty 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 yacht 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 be mitigated 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 in line 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

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)

VAT rates in Greece

Officially, the current VAT rate in Greece is 24%, although this has been temporarily reduced to 13% in June 2020 under "services of transport of people and their luggage", and applies to all yachts (over 24 meters) cruising exclusively within Greek waters. This reduced rate has been extended further until 31 December 2023, which is great news for those hoping to enjoy a yacht charter around Greece this summer.

VAT on time spent in international 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, possibly due to a lack of resources, the flat VAT rate of 13% is being applied to all yacht charters, regardless of spend time in international waters, avoiding the need for complicated calculations.

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. 

New e-Charter Permit

In April 2022, the Greek government introduced its new e-Charter Permit for foreign-flagged yachts wishing to cruise its waters. 

In essence, the new electronic permit allows foreign-flagged yachts – measuring over 35 metres LOA – to begin and end charters in Greece for a maximum of 75 days over a 3-year period, without having to obtain a Greek Charter Licence or establish a tangible presence in Greece.

This greatly simplifies charter operations for foreign-flagged vessels wishing to charter in Greece for a limited period. It should be noted that the usual VAT rules outlined above still apply.

Can yachts without a GCL or e-Permit 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 or e-Charter Permit, but will be liable to VAT in the country of embarkation.  

Please note that the rules regarding VAT, permits 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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