Introduction

Greece with its particular insular character and coasts of exceptional beauty, excellent climate, long maritime history and unique cultural heritage, is undoubtedly the ideal destination for sea and yachting enthusiasts.

Aiming at the demonstration of the competitive advantage of the country in the field of sea tourism, the Ministry of Mercantile Marine and the Aegean Sea has proceeded with the realization of fundamental reforms within the framework of activity of recreational yachts as a means of growth for the Greek economy.

THE GREEK SEAS OFFER A NEW KIND OF HOSPITALITY

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GROWTH IS PROMOTED, BUREAUCRACY IS MODERATED AND COSTS ARE REDUCED

Specifically:

What is the Registry of Touristic Yachts and Small Vessels?

It is an electronic application developed by the General Secretariat of Public Revenue; it aims to register all private vessels over (7) meters as well as all commercial vessels of any length, which are used for tourism and recreation purposes (commercial, recreational vessels and day-trip boats).

What is the procedure for registering in the Registry of Touristic Yachts and Small Vessels?

The relevant procedure shall be determined by joint decision of the Minister of Economics and the Minister of Shipping and the Aegean. However, especially for recreational vessels to be chartered until the Registry becomes operational (see below), there shall be a six (6) month period to apply for registration.

What vessel is considered to be a recreational vessel?

Any vessel over seven (7) meters, either a sailing vessel or a motor vessel, constructed to be used for leisure trips/cruises.

A recreational vessel may be designated as “commercial” if it carries up to forty-nine (49) passengers and has adequate and appropriate accommodation spaces (quarters, dining areas and hygiene on board) specifically for passengers.

All recreational vessels should have the necessary class certificates as required by their flags.

How can a recreational vessel be chartered?

To charter a recreational vessel, the following documents are required: a certificate by the competent tax authority (i.e. a certificate of starting or modification of business scope issued by the competent tax office in accordance with the Greek Tax Procedure Code) and registration in the relevant Registry by the competent authorities of the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean.

Chartering can be done by the owner or operator, or following the written consent of the owner or operator, by an agent or tourist office or freight forwarder. The charterer must have a Greek VAT number.

The minimum charter duration shall be eight (8) hours. The start and end of chartering is evidenced by the charter agreement based on the place and time of delivery and re-delivery of the vessel indicated therein. It is possible to conclude two full charter agreements within twenty-four hours (from 00.00 to 23.59 on the same day), which shall be considered as one (1) day for the purposes of calculating the minimum charter days.

The exclusive use of recreational vessels for leisure trips – cruises is repealed; therefore they may be used for training purposes or racing etc.; however the ban on a) transferring people on fare or goods and b) partial charter is maintained.

Greek- or EU-flagged tourist passenger vessels carrying up to ninety-nine (99) passengers may also be chartered under a full charter agreement.

Until the Registry is completed and becomes operational,
a) recreational vessels having a licence under Law 2743/99 which was in force on 14/01/2014 may still be chartered without requiring a new licence or another process. These licences shall remain in force until the date of submitting the application to register the vessel in the Registry. Likewise, the validity of the detax book (fuel) for motor vessels is also extended.
b) ecreational vessels not licensed under Law 2743/99 (new entrants) or those having a licence that expired before 14/01/2014 may be chartered after having obtained a licence by the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean, issued provisionally for the transitional phase until the Registry becomes operational. This licence shall remain in force until the date of submitting the application to register the vessel in the Registry.
c) Licences under Law 2743/99 whose term, as aforesaid, has been extended, as well as any new licences granted provisionally, shall be kept on board and presented to the competent authorities upon request.
d) For charters commencing at a Greek port, it is necessary to have the charter agreement approved, regardless of whether the recreational vessel is chartered with or without a captain and crew. The approval may be obtained at any Port Authority. Approval of the charter agreement is granted within forty-eight (48) or seventy-two (72) hours in case the next day is the weekend or a public holiday, before commencement of the charter. The approval does not require any shipping documents; however, it is necessary to provide a clear copy of the licence.

In case of charter commencement abroad, the charter agreement shall be approved by the Port Authority of the first Greek port of call.
e) The charters (for ships that have an obligation to complete a minimum number of charter days) shall be registered regularly, based on the approved charter agreements, in the Recreational Vessels Information Special Form (EEPSEPA) by the Port Authority of permanent mooring. The charter agreements concluded entirely abroad may be approved at any Port Authority and registered by that Port Authority in the EEPSEPA, in the first available slot, whether preceding the last entry, until the end of the year concerned.
f) During the charter term, the recreational vessels must have copies of the relevant charter agreements with lists of passengers, which are not required to be stamped by the Port Authority. Any passenger changes must be noted in the list of passengers, however it is not required to be reported to the Port Authority.

Caution: According to the provisions of Law 4250/2014 (A 74), it is no longer required to submit certified copies of public documents, clear copies of the originals are enough. Furthermore, the physical presence of the owner or the operator or captain or commander is not required. The acts referred to in the first part of Law 4256/2014 (A 92) may be carried out through a legally authorised representative.

How can a private recreational vessel be chartered?

Private recreational vessels must meet the criteria for commercial designation (capacity, accommodation spaces) and must have a seaworthiness certificate and all other certificates required under their flag for recreational vessels of the same class used for commercial purposes. The other terms and conditions for the chartering of private recreational vessels, including crew requirements, are equivalent to those for commercial recreational vessels.

Private recreational vessels are not required to complete a minimum number of charter days nor do they enjoy the concessions and exemptions provided for the commercial ones.

Is it possible to charter a recreational vessel with a foreign flag?

EU or EEA-flagged recreational vessels may be chartered in the same manner as those bearing the Greek flag.

Additional conditions apply for non-EU or non-EEA flagged recreational vessels, and in particular:
their largest part has to be built of metal or plastic and they need to have a total length of more than thirty-five (35) meters and a capacity of more than twelve (12) passengers.

What vessels have an obligation to complete a minimum number of charter days? How are the minimum charter days estimated?

The requirement to complete a minimum number of charter days applies to recreational vessels which are exempt from paying VAT on import or purchase. Recreational vessels for which VAT is payable without deductions or refunds shall have no such obligation.

The minimum charter days are estimated for liable vessels every three years from the date of registration in the Registry, based on the charter agreements, and the number is:
a) 105 days/3 years if chartered without a captain and crew;
b) 75 days/3 years if chartered with a captain and crew;
c) 25 days/3 years if designated as classic, whether chartered with or without a captain and crew.

The calculation takes into account the charter days completed both in Greece and abroad.

To estimate the days until the Registry becomes operational, the corresponding number of days shall be based on the period from the issuing or approval of the licence until the date the application was submitted for registration in the Registry.

Examples
a) a recreational vessel chartered without a captain and crew having a licence issued or validated on 20/02/2009 for which an application for registration in the Registry is submitted on 08/01/2015 has 2,148 calendar days and must complete 618 charter days.
b) a recreational vessel chartered without a captain and crew having a licence issued on 25/04/2014 for which an application for registration in the Registry is submitted on 08/01/2015 has 258 calendar days and must complete 74 charter days.

What happens if a commercial recreational vessel is seized?

In such a case, the time required to complete the minimum charter days shall be suspended as of the date of detention due to seizure enforcement until the date such detention is lifted.

Caution: when the Registry becomes operational, recreational vessels detained due to seizure must submit a registration application if they are to continue being chartered after the detention is lifted.

What is decommissioning of a commercial recreational vessel?

It is the option given to the commercial recreational vessel owner or operator to interrupt the vessel’s operations while also suspending the calculating of minimum charter days. This allows for a “grace period” when conditions are not favourable for the vessel’s operation. Decommissioning is a relief measure for businessmen facing difficulties. To avoid abuse of this provision, the minimum decommissioning period is set to one (1) year and the maximum is set to three (3) years. While decommissioned, the vessel shall remain stationary and its relating shipping documents shall be submitted to the competent Directorate of the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean.

How and when is it possible to use a commercial recreational vessel for own use?

A commercial recreational vessel may be used for own use by the owner or operator for the sole purpose of own recreation, when the vessel is not under a charter agreement and without a time limit. Own use must be registered in the Registry. Until the Registry becomes operational, Port Authorities shall note in the EEPSEPA the period of own use upon statement of the owner or operator.

What are the requirements for departure and arrival clearance?

The fee of 0.88 euros is removed. Even when requiring departure and arrival clearance, no fees shall be required.

The requirement to obtain a departure and arrival clearance for private recreational vessels and those commercial recreational vessels chartered without a captain and crew is also removed.

For recreational vessels chartered with a captain and crew, a departure clearance is required only from the first departure port (where the charter commences), while there is no requirement for arrival clearance at any intermediate and final destinations.

In case of any events or changes, including but not limited to maritime accidents, injuries, illnesses or illegal absences of crew members, incomplete compositions, expired crew lists or security certificates or insurance policies, the captain or commander of the vessel shall be required to declare arrival at the Port Authority, inform the Port Authority of such incident or change and obtain approval of the shipping documents.

It is noted that a) the captain or commander is not exempt from the obligation to keep the shipping documents and present them for inspection carried out by the Port Authority, as well as to comply with the applicable provisions of inspections on people when crossing the borders of a country and b) the vessel is not exempt from any port and other fees and charges.

What are the requirements for hauling and launching vessels?

It is no longer required to obtain a licence for hauling or launching recreational vessels and small boats. The relevant fee of 0,88 euros is removed.

What are the requirements for sport fishing?

The licence previously required from people engaging in sport fishing in Greece has been abolished. Port Authorities no longer issue vessel licences for sport fishing or individual sport fishing licenses.

In any case the prohibitions and restrictions laid down in applicable national and EU legislation relating to the sale, marketing, species, catches, means, gear etc. continue to apply.

What is a DEKPA?

DEKPA is the Recreational Vessel Cruising Bulletin allowing the free stay and cruising of the vessel in Greek waters. All Greek-flagged or EU-flagged private recreational vessels are required to obtain a DEKPA. DEKPA is issued by any Port Authority, regardless where the vessel is moored, or by the Port Authority at the port where the recreational vessel arrives when entering Greece. Furthermore, DEKPA’s term of validity is indefinite and subject to annual approval by the Port Authority. It is noted that DEKPAs issued before the law (14-04-2014) entered into force should be approved within one year of the law having entered into force, while those DEKPAs issued after the law entered into force, should be approved within one year of being granted.

What is a Transit Log?

It is a Yacht’s Cruising Bulletin issued by Customs Authorities in accordance with applicable provisions, allowing free stay and cruising in Greek territorial waters for non EU-flagged recreational vessels.

What is an ESA?

It is the Recreational Vessel Document submitted by the captain or skipper of a recreational vessel, regardless of flag, coming from a state outside the Schengen area.

What are the requirements for the crew of commercial recreational vessels?

Vessels up to twenty four (24) meters are not required to be staffed with a captain and crew. Where crew is signed on, it is obligatory to provide insurance to the crew by the Merchant Seamen’s Fund (NAT), by providing a list, but it is not required to have a basic composition of the crew or to open a crew list. Those employed as vessel captains in this class, provided that they are not registered seamen, shall have insurance by the Self Employed Workers’ Insurance Organization (OAEE) and shall be obliged to issue the corresponding legal document in accordance with the applicable provisions.

In the case of commercial recreational vessels over twenty-four (24) meters, it is required to keep a basic composition. For non-Greek flagged vessels, provided that their gross tonnage is less than 650 gt, the staffing rules laid down in Greek law shall apply, only as to the number and specialty.

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