Fiji eases yacht charter regulations
The Fijian government has made changes to the rules surrounding superyacht charters, making it easier for foreign-flagged vessels to charter in Fijian waters.
As of 15 July, changes to the Superyacht Charter Act mean a foreign-flagged vessel chartering in Fiji should be a minimum of 18 metres long — a reduction from 24 metres. Charter yachts must have a minimum weekly gross charter fee of US$30,000 per week — a reduction from USD$55,000.
Fiji has gradually been embracing yacht tourism in recent years, and nautical visitors make a significant contribution to the Fijian economy. Figures from 2019 indicate that 4,473 yacht guests arrived in 2018, and spent a total of FJ$34.9m (US$15.8m) on things including maintantence, docking and tourism activities.
The conditions of Fiji’s charter regulations and updated superyacht charter licence are set out below:
- Yachts must be over 18m and must have a minimum weekly gross charter rate of US$30,000.
- Yachts must have a valid Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) certification or equivalent internationally recognised commercial survey for the purpose of carrying passengers.
- A fee of FJ$3,600 (US$1,800) will be levied on each yacht for a short-term charter permit (STCP) that will cover six months and multiple charters. STCPs can be renewed multiple times for a maximum stay of 18 months.
- Marine Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) will survey the yacht and issue a coastal trading permit (CTP) required for each charter. Cost FJ$3450 (US$1725).
- A superyacht charter fee of five per cent is levied on the stated gross charter fee as disclosed on the charter contract.
- Charter contracts must be industry standard, either Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association, American Yacht Charter Association, or other legally recognised charter contract.
- All applications for the superyacht charter permit must be made through a recognised superyacht agent (Yacht Partners, Yacht Help and Seal Superyachts Fiji).
- Applications take 15 working days to process.
In 2020, while most Pacific island nations kept their borders closed during the earlier stages of the pandemic, Fiji’s government approved a ‘blue lanes’ initiative, allowing crew and guests to complete quarantine at sea before entering the country.
Earlier this year, a Fijian marina hit the headlines after the sanctioned superyacht Amadea was seized by Fiji authorities after the country’s High Court granted a US warrant that linked the yacht to sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
The United States said it would pay to maintain the vessel after it was seized, but while an appeal by the vessel’s registered owner, Millemarin Investments, worked its way through Fiji’s courts, the Fiji government had to foot the US$500,000-a-week bill.