French Charters and the Cabotage Declaration


The World Yachting Association together with a prominent international law firm have worked hand-in-hand to amend an aspect of the French legislation that was considered as detrimental to the super-yacht charter community in France. In November 2015, the French government published the ‘Décret Etat d’Accueil ’, a directive which made it necessary for all yachts chartering in French territorial waters to submit a declaration of cabotage that included details of crew employment and their respective agreements, social security arrangements, and safe manning and Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) compliance documentation.

The main concern in this regard, was that under the ‘Décret Etat d’Accueil’ all foreign charter yachts under 650 gross tonnes, were required to submit a cabotage declaration, together with supporting documentation, 72 hours prior to the departure of each and every voyage commencing in France.

Not only did this mean more paperwork, but these requirements also caused problems for yachts wishing to undertake voyages at a short notice.

The World Yachting Association, supported by a number of industry bodies, lobbied to the French government and were able to make a case that the ‘Décret Etat d’Accueil’ should not apply to charter yachts whose main activity takes place outside the French territorial waters. If yachts can show that 70% of their main activities take place outside of the French territorial waters, they will firstly benefit from the French VAT exemption that comes as a result of their main activities taking place outside of France and, secondly, will be automatically exempt from the cabotage declaration.