The new tax regime is expected to become law within a few weeks – Cruising sailors in Greece will be hit with a new tax of up to 400 euros a year.

The imminent tax will affect everyone sailing in Greek waters and is all but imposed following a vote in the Greek Parliament on 21 November 2013.

The Cruising Association (CA) has announced that the law has been voted on and accepted and looks set to be implemented as soon as it is published in a government gazette.

The new tax means all boats over 7m used for leisure activities in Greece will have to pay up. This includes commercial and charter boats, and day excursion boats licensed to carry fewer than 49 passengers, including those plying trade to other countries.

Boat owners with craft more than 7m and less than 12m long will have to pay between 200 and 400 euros a year to sail in Greek waters. But boats over 12m face a tax of 100 euros per metre per year, with a discount scheme available if boat owners pay for one month at a time while afloat in Greek waters at 10 euros per metre per month, or 30% off if they pay for a full year in advance. This is still to be clarified and confirmed.

Boats visiting Greece en route to Turkey, Croatia or Italy will be the hardest hit. Although in the minority of those affected by the new tax, the Greek authorities realise some cruising boat owners may consider leaving or avoiding Greece. The most vulnerable group are liveaboards with boats over 12m, who keep their boats on the water all year and are on a tight budget. No tax is payable if the boat is ashore for a full year.

The CA, based in London’s Docklands, has been monitoring the situation in Greece as it has almost 1,500 members sailing throughout the islands.

CA member Jim Baerselman, who has sailed in Greek waters for more than 30 years, said this significant tax could put many people off cruising in Greece.

It is understood that the tax is payable on entry to Greek waters and is valid only for that calendar year, which would mean anyone wintering in Greece would have to pay two years’ tax. But boats over 12m only need to pay monthly.

Implementation of the tax could possibly still be postponed or halted, but Mr Baerselman feels it is unlikely to be changed substantially.

The new tax regime will not become law officially until it is published, but this is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

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Failure to pay the tax and keep proof of payment on board could mean a detained boat – Cruising sailors in Greece are facing increased costs next year as the Government plans to impose a tax on all leisure and commercial tourist craft.

If the law is imposed, the tax will be introduced on 1 January 2014, as a circulation tax and will mean yachts and motorboats between 7m and 12m will have to pay up to €400 each year.

Vessels of more than 12m will be charged €100 per metre every year with concessions for permanently based yachts of 30% or a choice to pay €10 per metre per month.

The Cruising Association, based in Limehouse in London’s Docklands, has been monitoring the situation in Greece as it has almost 1,500 members sailing throughout the islands.

CA member, Jim Baerselman, who has sailed in Greek waters for more than 30 years, said this was a significant tax which could put many people off cruising in Greece.

He has been in contact with a Greek tax accountant, who said: ‘The tax will be charged for all recreational and commercial ships and small boats, regardless of their flag, which sail, are moored or anchored in Greek waters.’

 

Keep proof of payment

Mr Baerselman added that the Minister of Marine and Aegean had said yachts or motorboats sailing in Greek waters needed to keep proof of payment with their registration document which is issued when entering Greece.

Failure to pay the tax and keep proof of payment on board could mean the boat would be detained by the Port, Tax and Customs Authority and a fine of 100% of the tax due to be paid imposed.

Mr Baerselman said the proposed law also stated any boat cruising out of Greek waters after paying the annual tax would not be liable for a refund but the payment would remain valid for the current year.

Why the tax?

The aims of the tax are to ‘strengthen public revenue’ and to ‘correspond to the type and charges made by neighbouring countries, but not to act as a disincentive to tourists.’

The proposed tax is part of an omnibus bill sweeping up a range of detailed legislation and is an addition to a general maritime bill passed in the Greek parliament last month which omitted reference to leisure craft pending consultations.

A final decision on the proposed tax is due to be made in the Greek parliament by the end of November.

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