Boat registration – Foreign Flag

In most countries of the world there are governmental institutions where the state’s vessels are registered. Each country has rules defining the terms of registration of the vessel. Some states allow the registration of vessels owned by citizens or companies of other countries, thereby allowing the vessel to fly the flag of the country of registration. This arrangement allows shipping companies or private ship owners to overcome the problems of international trade laws, policy problems or taxation problems in the countries of origin or residence of the ship’s owners. For ships / yachts there is also an option called “club registration” for small vessels that have no obligation Registration in the flag state In recent years, registration of a club has been discontinued, registration of foreign flags has become simpler and more accessible.

Registration under foreign flag

This article does not include the possibility of listing the registration conditions in the various countries. Those interested in “registering with a foreign flag” should check the conditions of registration in the given country. The process of registering in a foreign flag includes: fees for establishing a foreign company, registering yachts with a foreign flag. Treatment fees are determined by the complexity of the treatment, the type of registration and the state of registration.

Importing yachts to Israel

The meaning of “yacht import” includes sailing to Israel on its own or transporting it as a cargo on a ship. The tax on importation of a yacht to Israel is 17% VAT is levied on Israeli flag vessels and on foreign flag vessels as soon as they are imported to Israel. A foreign flag vessel may stay in Israel for 3 months as a guest in Israel, after which he must leave Israel or pay the tax as required by law. In recent years, an additional 15% import tax has been added, known as “Lapid Tax” after the Minister of Finance who initiated it. First add 15% and then 17% so that the total tax is 34.55%.

Calculation of import tax

In the past the tax was calculated according to the value of the vessel on the day of payment. The tax day is calculated according to the value of the vessel on the day it arrives in Israel, plus interest and linkage. The calculation is performed according to the assessment of the VAT assessor, and if there is disagreement regarding the value of the vessel, it is possible to present an assessment of the seller’s appraiser and accepted by the VAT authorities. Such assessment is based on the value of similar vessels, price lists and the technical condition of the vessels. In order to determine the technical condition of the vessel, a survey is carried out on the ship and a report is issued accordingly, the cost of repairing the vessel is reduced from its value in proper condition and on this basis the valuations are submitted.

:Here are some important rules to know

Who is required to register in the Israeli flag

A ship owned by an Israeli citizen or owned by a company registered in Israel or owned by a foreign company, of which more than 50% of its shares are owned by an Israeli citizen, must be registered in the Israeli vessel registry. It is not possible to keep a vessel registration in two countries (double registration).

Year of production over 7-10 years

In accordance with the Regulations of the Shipping Manager, it is not possible to import a ship into Israel and register an Israeli flag when the ship is over 10 years old and 7 years a commercial vessel. The regulation is explained by the need to maintain the proper level of safety of vessels in Israel and to prevent the importation of obsolete and unsafe vessels.

(Sailing license / sailing permit (sailing certificate

A ship in the Israeli flag must be licensed by the Ministry of Transport, the Shipping Administration. A ship in a foreign flag that is in Israel must have an Israeli permit. A 30-day delay can be obtained from the Marina Manager and an extension of 90 days from the Marina Manager.

Skipper’s License

An Israeli skipper sailing a boat with an Israeli flag must hold Israeli skipper license. An Israeli skipper sailing a foreign flag boat in Israel’s coastal waters must hold Israeli skipper license. Skipper with a foreign citizenship (who does not have Israeli citizenship) who is sailing a foreign flag boat in the coastal waters of Israel does not have to have an Israeli skipper license. He must comply with the requirements for an operator license of the flag state and must also have an insurance policy.

Special Committee – Registration of a vessel up to the of age 15 under Israeli flag
New instructions from Ofer Ben Ezra, Director of the Small Craft Department, allow an application for an Israeli flag registration for vessels up to age 15.

Total Refit
Complete Renovation vessel, Total Refit, under the supervision of a marine engineer or marine assessor, may in special cases grant an exceptional engineering permit for registration under Israeli flag. In this case, you must apply through a marine engineer recognized  by the Shipping and Ports Authority in the Ministry of Transport.

Import of vessels over the age of 15 under a foreign flag
You can import vessels of any age under a foreign flag. Foreign nationals who do not have citizenship or residency in Israel can import a vessel to Israel when the vessel is registered on their name. Israeli citizens can import vessels registered under a foreign company. There is a conflict here with the requirement to register under Israeli flag for vessels owned by Israeli nationals or companies. Because the State of Israel is the only one in the world that limits the registration of vessels according to their age at the time of registration, which is clearly unreasonable, the Ministry of Transport does not investigate the ownership of foreign companies importing vessels into Israel. In any case, both the Israeli flag and the foreign flag must pay import duties at a rate of  34.55%, consisting of 15% sales tax and 17% VAT.  The value of the vessel for tax calculation takes in consideration the purchase value and the current vessel technical condition.

Holland Registration – Canceled for foreign citizens (non Dutch)
Holland announced that boats registered under Holland flag for none Holland citizens   will not be able to renew the registration. No new applications will be accepted. Boat owners must obtain new registration in different country.

:In order to receive details and to register under foreign flag, please contact

Yuval Harari – Naval Architect & Yacht Surveyor

Marina Tel Aviv, Eliezer Perry 14 Tel Aviv 61162

Mobile Phone 054-4353777    Fax 077-4701945    Email:

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