NEW PHENOMENES: Italy is changing flags. Are you sure it’s convenient?

THE PERFECT GIFT!

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Going around the ports, we are witnessing a growing phenomenon: more and more boats are flying foreign flags. We are not talking about mega-yachts with “banners” of some tax haven, but ordinary boats with flags of other European Community states. What happened? Have foreigners returned to settle along our shores? In part, yes, but not only.

Flag_belgaIndeed, there are many Italian shipowners who change flags and opt for nations where legislation is simpler. Among the EEC states, one of the most attractive appears to be Belgium. There are several reasons for this. First, you can register your boat even if you are not a resident of Belgium; second, boats from 2.5 to 24 meters are equated with our vessels and therefore do not need registration. Since they are then subject to the regulations of the flag under which they sail, they do not require a license even outside Belgian waters. Safety equipment also changes: among the main differences is no requirement to have a raft on board.

THE PROCESS FOR CHANGING THE FLAG
If you do not want to go through a specialized agency (there are many that provide this service), the process is still simple:

– Deletion from the Italian Naval Register
– Requesting a permit from the Coast Guard (takes several months). At this time you must apply for a flag to the Belgian government.
– Issuance of the flag letter by the Belgian government.
– Deliver Belgian flag letter to Italian captain’s office
– At this point you will have a new abbreviation indicating the port to which the boat belongs

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO CHANGE THE FLAG
As with all bureaucratic processes, there is a cost to changing the flag. And not always convenient. All new boats from 7.50 to 24 meters in length must pay a start-up fee of 2,478 euros, which must be renewed every five years at 98 euros. The flag change becomes affordable when the boat starts to have a few years of life instead, up to a minimum, after ten years of life, of 61.50 euros.

OUR OPINION
Changing flags does not remove the obligation to pay the annual Italian ownership tax, so this is a cost to keep in mind. The advantages are mostly practical, with fewer on-board checks and restrictions on safety equipment. But are you sure that you, in the boat, do not want the life raft?

AND YOU, WHAT DO YOU THINK? WOULD YOU CHANGE FLAGS?

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