In this issue, we conclude the examination of the Italian International Registry about commercial yachts – Part three
by Federico Santini* – photo by Blue iProd
After having analysed its creation and characteristics and the relevant tax and social security benefits that registration offers to owners, we move on to examine the problematic issues for which the Italian International Registry has never gotten off the ground and on which Italian authorities should focus with a finally structured intervention that would make this institution truly attractive at a national and international level. From a technical point of view, the eligibility requirements for the registration of commercial yachts in the Italian International Registry provided for in the Decree of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport No. 95 of 2006 (the Safety Code) do not seem particularly onerous or in any case different from those required by main foreign commercial regulations (REG Large yacht Code, Malta Commercial Yacht Code). On the contrary, the administrative, operational and management obligations imposed on yachts registered in the International Registry are particularly burdensome to, at present, discourage owners.
THE PROCEDURE IS STILL VERY SLOW AND SOMETIMES EXCEEDS 3-4 MONTHS DURING WHICH THE YACHT CANNOT SAIL.
However, thanks to the efforts made by Confindustria Nautica and the main Italian trade associations, certain simplifications have already been introduced, first with Legislative Decree No. 229 of 3 November 2017 and then with the subsequent Legislative Decree No. 160 of 12 November 2020, which partially modified the Yachting Code (Legislative Decree, No. 171/2005), but they have not been sufficient to attract owners. These simplifications include, in particular, the elimination of the one-thousand-ton limit for the registration of large yachts in the International Registry, the establishment of the single logbook to replace the numerous registries and journals previously provided, and the exemption from arrival and departure requirements. Nonetheless, numerous problematic issues remain:
1) Registration procedure: despite some simplifications, the procedure is still very slow and sometimes takes more than 3-4 months during which the yacht cannot sail. A first phase of authorization for registration is envisaged under the responsibility of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, for which the presentation of the relevant request by the shipowner must be preceded by an agreement with the main trade union associations. Once authorization for registration has been obtained from the Ministry, the actual registration phase follows under the responsibility of the Port Authority. Until the procedure is completed, the owner cannot use the yacht.
From a technical point of view, the eligibility requirements for the registration of commercial yachts in the Italian International Registry do not seem to differ from those required by main foreign commercial regulations.
2) Crew list: despite the simplifications introduced by Legislative Decree No. 160 of 11/12/2020, only seafarers registered in the seafarers’ registries are allowed to embark, and the shipowner must first request the competent authority for a specific document drawn up by the model approved by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. This procedure is also quite slow and may take up to 1 month.
3) Equivalent solutions and exceptions: the approval of any equivalent solutions and/or exceptions to the safety requirements referred to in Ministerial Decree 95/2005 requires a particularly cumbersome process which may take more than 1 month and the final decision is left to the discretion of the Maritime Authority. Until the equivalent solution and or exceptions are approved, the yacht is not registered in the International Registry and, therefore, cannot sail.
Once registration authorization has been obtained from the Ministry, the actual registration phase follows, which is the responsibility of the Harbor Master’s Office. Until this procedure is completed, the owner cannot use the yacht.
4) Visits and inspections: an initial visit and annual periodic visits are imposed to verify the existence and permanence of safety requirements, as well as inspections involving the simultaneous intervention of various public administrations to check the state of the yacht about the aspects of work organization on board, and occupational health and safety.
5) Navigation: although the formal exemption from the arrival and departure formalities referred to in Articles 179 and 181 of the Navigation Code has been introduced, there is still an obligation on the part of the captain to notify the maritime authority, both in advance and on arrival of the yacht, of a series of information relating to arrival and departure times, crew list, passenger list, insurance policies and safety certifications. Although these communications are done electronically, there are still frequent visits on board by the tax and customs authorities. A definitive intervention that would introduce, in a unified and systematic manner, a decisive simplification of the aspects described above and, above all, allow a substantial reduction in registration times is certainly advisable.
(The Italian International Registry – Barchemagazine.com – November 2023)