The story so far
On 1 November 2015, the French Maritime Authorities implemented new legislation that required a Cabotage Declaration to be filed by all foreign charter yachts under 650GT, 72 hours prior to the departure of each and every voyage commencing in France.
Supporting documentation was also required to be either submitted or held on board to be shown in the event of an inspection. This documentation included crew lists, a copy of the Seafarers Employment Agreement in French, a copy of the payslip in French, a safe manning document and MLC compliance documentation.
Not only did this mean more paperwork for crews to deal with but these requirements also caused problems for yachts wishing to undertake voyages at short notice. The French Chamber of Commerce for Industry together with a number of the industry bodies including MYBA, ECPY and the PYA, supported by a French legal team, lobbied the French government. They argued that this new legislation should not apply to yachts that mainly sail outside of French territorial waters.
The latest news
This lobbying has been successful and the French authorities have confirmed that the Cabotage Declaration does not apply to yachts that meet the 70% trip rule under the French Commercial Exemption. For those yachts that do not meet this criteria, the Cabotage Declaration together with the supporting documentation will still need to be filed.
Year of change
Although this is indeed great news for the luxury yacht and yacht charter industry, it does add yet another factor to be considered by yacht operators and managers, in what is already a very complex field. The French Commercial Exemption has evolved over the last few years and 2016 is looking to be another year of change.