Poland is slowly, but steadily, becoming a flag state of proportion with regard to pleasure crafts and recreational yachting. Since the International Certificate for Pleasure Crafts (ICP) was formally banned in Portugal, Spain and Italy, yacht owners have for a large part registered their vessels in Poland. The relatively low costs and efficiently organised registration process has done Poland, as a flag state, no harm at all.
One of the advantages the Polish registration offers is that recreational yacht registrations permit bare-boat chartering. That means that private or corporate owned boats can commercially exploit their yacht on a bare-boat basis. (chartering out a yacht without crew)
This also tickled the interest of charter companies. The only bottle-neck was that many of the maritime authorities of different states around the Mediterranean require a yacht is commercial registered, in order to be able to commercial exploit the vessel.
Is commercial yacht registration in Poland for charter companies something to consider? I would think so as the conditions to acquire such a registration, are financial less impactful as in other European flag states.
What is a commercial yacht?
A commercial yacht is considered a sailing boat, motorboat or motor sailor which is exploited commercially for touristic purposes. The yacht may cater no more than 12 guests, excluding crew. The number of crew members and guests may not exceed the number of people a yacht can officially accommodate.
Qualification crew members
Qualifications of the crew members depend on the type of vessel. For example, a yacht with a maintenance free engine room, has different requirements to meet than a mega yacht with an engine room that looks like an operating theatre.
For the sake of this article, we have listed the general qualifications crewmembers of a yacht should meet. Before applying for a commercial registration, it is wise to inquire what the exact qualifications requirements are for the specific vessel to be registered.
The skipper should meet all requirements the general crew members have to abide by. Furthermore, the skippers (valid) certificate has to meet the standards of the STCW Convention and may only be issued by an EU Member state or third country that has been recognised by the European Commission in the field of training seafarers and issuing qualification documents.
Skipper and crew members are required to have the following valid certificates:
Up to 500 GT
- Certificate of Safety on commercial yachts
- Health certificate
More than 500 GT
- Certificate individual rescue techniques
- Certificate basic-level fire protection
- Certificate individual safety and shared responsibility
- Certificate elementary principles of providing medical first aid
- Health certificate
It should be noted that in the case of a yacht with the Polish nationality, operating in another country than Poland, additional qualification may compulsory, even though crew members meet the Polish qualification requirements.
So, if operating from in the national waters of another state than Poland, make sure you are aware of all regulations and conditions that have to be met as a commercially operated yacht.
Labour Contracts & Social Security
As formally stated by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy states: persons employed on board a vessel flying the flag of an EU member state, EEA state or Switzerland who receive remuneration for their work from an economic operator based in another member state are subject to the insurance scheme of the country where the economic operator is seated, provided that they reside in the territory of that country.
Let us say a yacht with a Polish commercial registration is owned by an Italian company. If the crew members also reside in Italy, then Italian labour laws apply and social security has to be paid in Italy. If the crew members reside in another EU country than Italy, then the Polish labour laws apply and social security has to be paid in Poland. It is that simple!
Crystal clear guidelines have been formulated with regard to safety requirements a yacht must meet that is registered as a commercial vessel. The guidelines should not have a great impact on any well-maintained yacht which is used for the purpose it is meant for.
The safety requirements, are categorised as follows:
- Lifesaving appliances
- Signal equipment
- Navigation equipment
- Radio- communication equipment
- Fire protection equipment
- Deck equipment
- Guidelines on alarm protocols
To be noted that the above relates to yachts shorter than 24m. Yachts over 24m have longer and more impactful list of requirements to meet.
The Guidelines for Safety Requirements will be made available to all yachts with a commercial registration, together with a formal statement listing the above, which can be presented to local maritime authorities who need to have this verified as requirements by the Polish ships registrar.
Commercial yacht registration in Poland is an attractive alternative to consider. For any professionally maintained and managed yacht, the conditions to apply are not so impactful as in other flag states where vessel have to undergo costly annual inspections.
Needless to say, that you should not underestimate, for example, the Polish safety requirements. These should be met and integrated in the overall safety protocol the charter company operates under.