The supply of yachts

We look at the issue of intra-community supplies of new yachts to EU companies and entities not registered for VAT

by Berardo Lanci*

It can sometimes happen that sales of new yachts within the EU are made to persons who are not registered for VAT purposes. This scenario immediately brings to mind individual purchases. However, it should be remembered that in the various legal systems of the European Union there are various cases of companies and entities without VAT registration numbers.

Italian VAT does not apply to the supply of a new yacht to an EU holding company without a VAT number or to a Monegasque Société civile particulière (SCP) if the yacht is transported to the EU country of destination.

According to the provisions of Article 41(2) of Legislative Decree 331/1993, the supply of new yachts to these EU persons is considered an intra-Community supply, without the application of Italian VAT, if the goods are in any case transported to the other EU country. The peculiarity of this regime lies in the fact that, on the other hand, the ordinary VAT regime provides that supplies of goods to persons other than VAT-registered taxpayers are always considered as “domestic” supplies with the subsequent application of Italian VAT. Indeed, as already described in previous articles published in this magazine, “ordinary” intra-community supplies take place where (i) the supply is for consideration (ii) both parties are VAT operators registered with the VIES in their own country and, for the transferee, in the country of destination of the good, if different from the country of establishment (iii) the good is transferred to the EU country of destination. In these cases, the Italian supplying company issues a non-taxable invoice for VAT purposes; VAT is then applied in the EU country of destination of the good by the transferee. If the transferee is not a VAT operator, Italian VAT is applied, even if the goods are transported to another EU country.

THE ASSESSMENT OF WHETHER A YACHT IS NEW OR SECOND-HAND FOR VAT PURPOSES MUST BE MADE ON DELIVERY, NOT ON ARRIVAL IN THE DESTINATION COUNTRY.

Unlike in the ordinary regime briefly mentioned here, where the object of a supply between two EU persons is a new yacht, VAT is applied in the EU country of destination, even if the transferee is not a VAT-registered person. This is provided for in the above-mentioned Article 41.

These hypotheses are not so rare and occur, for example, where the transferee is a holding company (to which VAT numbers are not always issued in EU countries) of a group or a company of another nature, such as the Société civile particulière (SCP) in Monaco, used for the mere holding and management of assets and financial activities.

In all these cases, therefore – the supply being an intra-community supply which, as such, provides for the application of VAT in the country of destination – the transferee would possibly be entitled to benefit from the favourable regime if the country of destination provides for a different and less burdensome VAT regime for the yacht than the Italian one.

To complete this article, it is also useful to recall that the definition of a new yacht in the context of EU deliveries differs somewhat from that relevant to domestic deliveries. In particular, in the EU context, yachts are considered new if (i) they have sailed for less than 100 hours or (ii) they are disposed of within three months of registration in public registers. Finally, it is important to recall the ruling of the European Court of Justice (Case C-84/09 of 18 November 2010), according to which the conditions for classifying a yacht as new or second-hand should be checked at the time of delivery and not at the time of arrival at the destination, in order to avoid that the transport by sea may change the condition of the yacht and thus turn a yacht that was “new” at the time of delivery into a “second-hand” one.

(The supply of yachts – Barchemagazine.com – June 2024)