Hello Italy I leave you. We explain how to change the flag


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Flag_belga copyWe asked Italian shipowners “Would you change the Italian flag?” in an online survey. Almost all, 88 percent, would do so. Blame bureaucracy and outdated regulations governing Italian boating. So we investigated to try to understand the steps for changing the ensign to one’s boat. The most “desirable” flags are that of Belgium, Holland, France but also tiny Malta.


Who can register the boat in another ship registry?
Since Italy has ratified the Montego Bay Convention, it has become possible for a European citizen to register his or her recreational craft with the registry of any EU member state, allowing the craft to sail in international waters as well, without any limits from the coast.

Can an Italian citizen choose the Belgian or Dutch flag?
Yes, because the Belgian and Dutch ship registry allows EU citizens to register the boat in Belgium without being a resident.

Is an Italian license required to operate a Belgian-flagged boat in Italian waters?
Controversial issue. Theoretically, since the Belgian-flagged boat is for all intents and purposes Belgian national territory there would be no need for it (it is not required up to 24 meters in length), but there are those who argue that sailing in Italian waters one has to refer to the legislation of the national territory and therefore for an Italian citizen it is necessary to have a license if sailing beyond 6 miles or with an engine over 40.8 horsepower.

Are there tax problems for the Italian citizen whose boat flies a Belgian or other foreign flag?
No. The Italian citizen is required to declare his boat registered in foreign registry, in special section (“RW” panel) of the tax return, and if he does not make such a declaration, he would be considered a tax evader. There is no specific taxation, only declaration to check consistency with purchasing power.

What are the advantages in Belgian-flag registration?
In short: unrestricted sailing from shore regardless of design category, essential safety equipment, no need for periodic surveys for the boat by an assessor, and no periodic checks on safety equipment. Evident reduction in costs and wasted time. Quick answers and paperwork without wasting time.

Are there any disadvantages?
An Italian citizen who owns a foreign-registered boat should keep up to date with the regulations of the nation where his unit is registered.

Can the boat flying the Belgian or foreign flag be stopped by Italian authorities in charge of safety equipment checks or for safety certificate verification while sailing in Italian territorial waters?
No, the “Belgian” or other flagged boat is subject to the regulations of that country, and the Italian authorities have no authority to carry out verifications.

How do you get the Belgian flag?
For registered units, you must apply to your harbor master’s office to have the unit removed from the Italian registers. Pending deregistration one can make a request to the Belgian ministry of their registry (the deregistration notice should be attached to the request) declaring the boat’s port of registry, the only constraint being that the port be within the European community. The moment the government issues the “letter of flag” you are automatically enrolled in the Belgian recreational boat register. For watercraft ( unregistered boats) just produce a document proving ownership.

Who do you contact about the Belgian flag?
There are numerous agencies and appraisers in Italy that handle the paperwork. The cost is around 300/450 euros. Procedures can be carried out directly by contacting the relevant Belgian ministry found online by typing: www.mobilit.belgium.be.

Who does the Belgian flag benefit most?
To those who own a boat more than 10 years old, in fact there is a discount scale for the cost of road tax (it is renewed every 5 years). A boat 10 years old or older pays only 61.50 euros.



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