The Croatian Customs Administration has released all Croatian marinas from the country’s bonded-warehouse scheme, meaning they are no longer considered collateral in Croatia’s VAT rule for non-EU yachts. Liability and responsibility of reporting departure information to Customs now remains the sole and exclusive obligation of the berth-holder.

Negotiations with representatives of the Customs Administration were led by the Croatian Association of Marinas, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the Croatian Employers' Association and Marina Punat – who together sought the advice of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), of which Marina Punat is a sustaining member.

ICOMIA provided help and support to the campaign by confirming the non-existence of similar practise in the EU, and by urging the authorities to release marinas as collateral.

“For Croatia’s marinas, the bonded warehouse scheme meant there was a constant risk of paying customs debt for a third party, plus lots of unnecessary administration,” says B Renata Marević, marina manager of Marina Punat. “Thanks to ICOMIA we have reached the cancellation of this status – and for Croatian marinas that means doing business is much easier, unnecessary additional risk has been removed and we are in fair market competition with other EU marinas.

“ICOMIA has played an important, perhaps crucial role and together we are stronger.”

European law allows non-European vessels to remain in the Croatian/EU customs territory for up to 18 months from the date of entry into the EU without applying import requirements including VAT and customs duty on the value of the vessel. Those vessels are treated as temporary imported goods, and when the temporary import procedure expires, the responsible person for the yacht must follow one of the permissible and available procedures pursuant to the EU legislation.

In Croatia, marinas were deemed as bonded warehouses. This meant the Croatian Customs Authority required the marinas under its jurisdiction to act as guarantors for VAT and import duty on the value of the yacht for non-EU vessels in case the berth-holder failed to comply with customs regulations. Such unpopular practice diminished the attractiveness of Croatian waters as cruising ground, effectively applying VAT penalties to non-involved but local-parties which also created a disadvantage to Croatian business competitiveness.