On 29 November 2017, the Greek parliament passed Law 4504/2017. This introduces significant changes to the legal framework for pleasure yachts in Greece, which came into effect on 1 December 2017. Although the purported purpose of the new legislative regime was to provide a clear and well-defined legal framework to secure the protection of human life, the safety of navigation and the development of the sector of yachting in Greece, it is highly likely that this will create difficulties for commercial yachting in Greece.
The paramount importance of a Greek Commercial (Chartering) Licence
The most important change which was effected by Law 4504/2017 is the fact that only pleasure vessels with a Greek commercial licence are permitted to perform charterparties in which either the place of delivery or the place of redelivery is within Greece.
Until 30 November 2017, a pleasure yacht which did not have a Greek commercial (chartering) licence had the following options:
- To take delivery of her passengers from abroad, regardless of the place of their disembarkation (either in Greece or abroad), or
- To take delivery of her passengers from Greece, only if they would disembark abroad, or
- To go through Greece and the Greek waters, both having taken delivery of the passengers abroad and also having them disembark abroad.
Following the recent legislative amendments and, specifically, pursuant to article 136 of the Law 4504/2017, a charterparty which provides for the place of delivery or the place of redelivery within Greece can only be concluded by pleasure yachts holding a Greek commercial (chartering) licence. A pleasure vessel which does not have a Greek commercial (chartering) licence is not allowed to take delivery of its passengers nor to disembark them within Greek waters.
Foreign-flagged Commercial Pleasure Yachts
A pleasure vessel which might hold a commercial licence under the laws of another state (including an EU state) but which has not obtained a Greek commercial (chartering) licence will be characterized under Greek law as a private pleasure vessel. Accordingly, the pleasure yacht will be provided with a document called ‘Private Pleasure Yachts’ Maritime Traffic Document’ (in Greek: Δελτίο Κίνησης Πλοίων Αναψυχής – ΔΕ.Κ.Π.Α.) or with a Transit Log.
All commercial pleasure yachts which have been chartered should carry a copy of the charterparty and updated lists of the passengers before sailing from the starting port. Any change which might arise during the charterparty should be recorded.
In addition, all pleasure vessels that do not fly the Greek flag should be in full compliance with the corresponding requirements which apply to vessels flying the Greek flag. In order to evidence the above-mentioned compliance, the pleasure vessels should have a ‘security certificate of foreign-flagged commercial pleasure vessel’, which is issued by a recognized classification society, authorized to issue certificates of seaworthiness for Greek-flagged vessels of the same category.