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Home > Legal & Financial > Registry of Operators of Ribs and High Speed Semi-rigid Vessels

Registry of Operators of Ribs and High Speed Semi-rigid Vessels

Last year the Royal Decree-Law 16/2018, of October 26, 16/2018, of October 26, approving certain measures to combat the illicit traffic of people and goods in relation to the vessels used justifies such measures in the anti-smuggling policy,  established  a series of prohibitions and limits of use in relation to high speed Ribs  and semi-rigid vessels, as a measure for the fight against smuggling and the illicit traffic of people and goods.

Specifically, it established  that those who intend to carry out manufacturing, repair, refit, circulation, possession or trade activities, as well as navigation through any point of inland waters, Spanish territorial sea or contiguous zone, should be previously registered in the Registry of Operators of Ribs and High Speed Semi-rigid Vessels and request for each vessel affected by these regulations a request for authorization to use the vessel.

The vessels affected are inflatable Ribs and high speed semi-rigid vessels that can be used for maritime navigation that meet any of the following characteristics:

  1. All those whose hull, including the pneumatic structure, if less than or equal to 8 m LOA , that have a maximum power, regardless of the number of engines, equal to or greater than 150 kW (203HP).
  2. All those whose hull, including the pneumatic structure, is greater than 8 meters in total length.
  3. Ribs or semi-rigid vessels different from those described in the previous sections, as well as any other vessel and smaller vessels when the existence of rational elements or indications that demonstrate the intention to use them to commit or to facilitate the commission of an act of contraband

The lack of the recording of said vessels in the  Registry of Operators of Ribs and High Speed Semi-rigid Vessels will have the consideration for the vessel as  of prohibited good, for the purposes of the provisions of section 12 of article 1 of the Organic Law 12/1995, of December 12, on Repression of Smuggling, that is criminal offence.

However,  among others following vessels are expressly exempted from this extremely and severe Customs consideration prohibited good:

  • Foreign flagged ribs, those that have the consideration of foreign vessels or vessels of State that are legally in Spanish waters
  • Tenders, or Auxiliary vessels, whatever their length, that are effectively and exclusively affected by the service of a main vessel
  • Those used for inland navigation through lakes, rivers and waters outside Spanish maritime spaces.
  • The ones affected exclusively the exercise of economic activity – we understand also charter –  business, sports, research or training activities
  • Finally, all  pleasure crafts affected to private and recreational activities  provided they fulfil the regulatory requirements established in terms of registration, inspection, safe and manning , technical and commercialization.

Despite these broad catalogue of exemptions – which probably meet most part of our RIBS´s fleet  –   we  are aware and we have seen cases in which the Customs & Excise Office are arresting RIBs for not having the recording in this Registry.

The registration might be done quite easily online in the Spanish Customs & Excise Tax Authorities website, with e-Certificate by the owner or if Non Resident by tax representative, so that in case of doubt and due to the strong and sever consequences  we strongly recommend the recording in said Registry. Just in case.


Carlos Espinosa – Solicitor & Tax Advisor

+34 627 41 32 01