Thailand has an extensive, beautiful tropical coastline but has not been a destination of choice for superyacht charters. Disadvantageous and archaic laws have acted as a strong deterrent, however, following extensive lobbying by the superyacht industry this is set to change.
In August the Thai Temporary Charter License received the Royal Decree. The new Charter License laws will permit visiting foreign flagged superyachts to apply for a license which will enable them to operate commercially in Thai waters.
The license is available only to yachts of 30 metres and above, and will be valid for one year. During this time a yacht will be able to cruise and charter in Thai waters. Applications for a license must be made to the Ministry of Transport, through an appointed Thai agent.
Until now a superyacht that exclusively visited Thai destinations as part of a charter could only do so if it were Thai flagged. Under the Thai flag, an import tax of 7% of the yachts value was payable and a Thai captain and engineer employed, with severe penalties in case of breach. This has now been swept away and foreign flagged superyachts with the charter license may now operate a complete charter in Thai waters.
The licenses are valid for 365 days and are non-extendable nor transferrable. The yacht may freely leave and re-enter Thai waters for the duration of the license. At present the cost of the license is 40 Thai Baht a ton (€1.00) but we understand that this fee is likely to increase in the very near future.
In a parallel move a Thai government minister has confirmed that proposed changes to crew visa regulations are expected to be in place by November this year.
Currently, visa restrictions only permit the yacht’s crew to work in Thai waters for 30 days; any extension to the visa is not permitted. It is intended that the new crew visa would mirror the Charter License to ensure the safe operation of the vessel by the crew while on charter in Thai waters.
While this is encouraging news, there remain uncertainties regarding the 7% VAT charge on the value of the yacht which will continue to apply and will be payable on the application for the Charter License. The Prime Minister and his government fully support the liberalisation of the superyacht charter rules and we understand are working towards a change in the law to address this issue, which they recognise as a significant a stumbling block to any owner applying for a Charter License.
When all the proposed changes are complete, we expect there will be a significant increase in the number of superyachts cruising in Thailand as a result of the modernisation of the Superyacht facilities in Thailand and the new Thai law, which should achieve the authorities aim of boosting high level luxury tourism in the country.
For more details please contact Raphael Beaudrey in Hong Kong - firstname.lastname@example.org. Raphael is on the board of APSA, the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association. Or alternatively contact Janet Xanthopoulos in Monaco - email@example.com