Sovereign Marine Services

Gibraltar-based Sovereign Marine Services (SMS) provides a wide range of marine and professional services to yacht owners, managers and brokers worldwide.

As the maritime division of the Sovereign Group, SMS brings the expertise of a dedicated team focused on meeting the needs of yacht owners together with group’s capability in corporate ownership and tax planning. It also enjoys access to Sovereign’s global office network that includes Cyprus, Dubai, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Malta, London and Singapore.

SMS registers, administers and manages yachts – both pleasure and commercial – on a worldwide basis. It also specialises in the provision of: ownership structures, VAT and tax planning, yacht importation, safety and technical management, marine insurance and finance, crew administration and payroll, accounting and banking, foreign exchange and international payments.

Once a yacht has been chosen, the most important decisions that need to be made are its ownership structure, flag choice and registration. Approaching yacht ownership with a good understanding of what’s involved can be crucial. The pleasures of sailing can be severely reduced if you’re constantly interrupted by unnecessary regulation, surveys, inspections and administration.

Registration is the principal test of a vessel’s nationality. Yacht owners must give careful consideration to selecting the most suitable Port of Registry to match their profile and needs. Each flag has different regulations in place and offers its own advantages and, in some cases, disadvantages. It will also, with certain limited exceptions, establish the legal system under which the yacht is to be operated. SMS will assist yacht owners to make the right decision according to their particular circumstances.

Registration of a yacht in the name of a company rather than an individual can provide for enhanced confidentiality of ownership and ease of sale, as well as a means to pass assets on to heirs without liability to estate duties or inheritance tax.

Legitimate mitigation of potential VAT liabilities is generally available to owners of both pleasure and commercial yachts, particularly if the yacht is purchased through a corporate structure. The options will depend on a full assessment of a yacht’s ownership structure and operational requirements, as well as the personal financial circumstances of the owner.

SMS is able to assist and guide owners as to the most suitable choices and, if required, obtain independent VAT advice. In particular SMS has extensive experience of assisting owners with the EU’s ‘temporary importation’ (TI) procedure, which enables non-EU resident owners of yachts that are non-EU flagged to use the yacht freely in EU waters for the permitted period of 18 months.

For buying or selling a yacht, SMS can liaise on behalf of a client with agents and brokers and will arrange for all the necessary documentation to transfer the title and successfully complete a purchase or sale.

Our comprehensive range of services includes:

  • Corporate ownership
  • Worldwide yacht registration
  • VAT and tax planning
  • Marine insurance and finance
  • Accounting and banking
  • Crew administration and payroll
  • Yacht importation.
  • Safety & Technical Management


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