Dispelling the Myths of Superyacht Ownership

What should potential new Superyacht buyers consider before making their big purchase.

November 12, 2019

Spending time aboard your own luxury superyacht anchored in a secluded and sheltered spot provides the perfect scenario for relaxing and spending time with friends and family. However, this perfect scenario can quickly become a nightmare if the owner has not considered the technical, tax and VAT regulations in relation to the ownership and use of their yacht. This is especially true where yachts spend a percentage of their time sailing in EU/Mediterranean waters when VAT advice from an expert is essential as the rules frequently change and it is vital to keep up with the latest developments.

The purchase of the Superyacht

The prospective owner(s) first point of contact when they have made the decision to purchase a superyacht will likely be with the sales broker or the existing owner.

To ensure their purchase and continued ownership will be an enjoyable experience, the prospective owner should engage the services of advisers that specialise in the ownership and management of these luxury assets:

  1. A Corporate Services Provider (CSP) to set up and administer the ownership structure;
  2. A legal/tax adviser; and
  3. A yacht management company.

The prospective owner may already have a preferred CSP or possibly their own family office through which their business affairs and other high value assets are administered. Although their existing CSP/family office will be well versed in the setting up and administration of a corporate structure for the purpose of controlling their business interests, because owning a yacht is such a specialised area it would be prudent to engage the services of specialist superyacht advisers referred to above.

Typical questions for the prospective owner?

Benefits of offshore corporate ownership

Setting up an ownership structure in a well-regulated and reputable offshore jurisdiction provides the following benefits:

  1. Limited liability - limit the liability of the beneficial owner both from a legal and financial perspective to the value of the assets in the structure;
  2. Protection of privacy;
  3. Estate planning/asset protection;
  4. Potential tax and VAT benefits when the yacht is chartered;
  5. Preferred structure by lenders if yacht finance is required.

Flag selection

Flag selection establishes the law under which the yacht conducts its business and operations and is therefore a key decision when considering the overall structure. The nationality of the owner and the intended use of the yacht must be considered when deciding on the most appropriate jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction of the corporate owning structure and the flag state do not have to be one and the same. Several ship registries have offices in multiple locations around the world ensuring that communications are undertaken in the same time zone. For example, a Jersey company can register a yacht in the Cayman Islands and liaise with the Cayman registry via its UK office.

Author(s)
Jane Hayes
Jane Hayes
Associate Director - Yachts
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How can Fiduchi help?

As an independent specialist yacht administration and fiduciary business with over 45 years’ experience, Fiduchi has a specialist team which can advise and take care of all matters regarding your superyacht.

As the CSP engaged to set up and administer the bespoke ownership structure, we will arrange the yacht registration in the most appropriate flag state.  We will also engage with the yacht management company and the owner’s legal/tax advisers and work with them on behalf of the owner.

We understand that one of the primary concerns of owners are costs associated with owning a yacht. Therefore, as part of our ethos, we provide a transparent fixed pricing structure to ensuring there are no unpleasant surprises.

The ultimate aim is to ensure the owner and their family and guests can truly relax and enjoy their time aboard.

For more information on the services we provide, please do not hesitate to contact our Associate Director Jane Hayes on: +44 7797 923 089.

Alternatively, you can send our yacht team a message us below:

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