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With the amendment of the F.A.P. of the Special Tax Act, since January 1, 2011, the payment of the Spanish matriculation tax (IEDMT) does no necessarily mean changing the flag of the vessel to the Spanish one.
Act 39/ 2010, of 22nd December, of State Budget, has introduced a significant amendment to the First Additional Provision of the Law 38/1992 of 28 December, of Special Tax, rule setting the Special Tax on Certain Means of Transport (IEDMT), also known as Spanish Matriculation Tax on yachts.
This tax, applies to vessels over 8 meters in lenght to be registered in Spain, is 12% of the value of the boat. Under the first additional provision, the registration in Spain is compulsory when the boat is destined to be used by a natural or legal person residing or established in Spain.
With the new wording, the obligation of paying the tax still continues when the yachts are to be used by residents and established, but registering the yacht in Spain is not required.
That means that it is compulsory to pay the tax, but not necessarily to change the flag to the Spanish one.
This used to be a major problem affecting foreigners that changed their residence to Spain and even if they enjoyed tax exemption when change of residence, they were forced to change their yacht flag to the Spanish one, with the consequent need of getting Spanish licences and problems with the yacht documentation.
E.U. commercial vessels used in Spain are also affected by the amendment as they pay the tax or request exemption (potential for charter yachts up to 15 meters im length), and can maintain foreign flag. This possibility already existed in some regions of Spain, but without an explicit legal support.
Moreover, the new version allows even Spaniards or residents to buy vessels flagged in other countries and keep the flag, paying, of course, the Special Tax on Certain Means of Transport.
In any case, and considering the preamble of the Act, we must understand the flag should be from an E.U. State.
We recommend our report "Matriculation tax application to foreign yachts sailing in Spain".
Yamandu R. Caorsi
Lawyer at Blas de Lezo Abogados
Yachting tax and legal consultant in Spain