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The information below is intended to provide answers to questions that come up regularly. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide and it has limited applicability. Please read the countries introduction to ensure that it is appropriate to you. The standard documentation a UK flagged pleasure vessel operating outside UK Territorial Waters should carry is detailed on the paperwork page.

UK Government travel advice

FCDO advice including information on permitted duration of stay and visas for Spain:

Evidence of competence

The skipper of the vessel is required to have evidence of competence and it is not uncommon for the Spanish Authorities to inspect it.

Since 1 January 2021, the UK has been treated as a third country by EU Member States. This changed how certificates demonstrating competence for recreational boating are accepted in Spanish legislation. 

For visitors to Spain, UK certificates should still be acceptable if a British Citizen is operating a UK flagged vessel. Although Spain has not adopted UNECE Resolution 40, the ICC is recommended for British Citizens operating UK flagged vessels when visiting Spain. 

If somebody is operating a foreign flagged pleasure boat in Spain (i.e. a boat which is not Spanish flagged) and they are not a citizen of the flag state, we understand they are required to have the certificate required by their country of residence or the country of which they are a citizen. 

Spanish Citizens and residents may find that a UK certificate issued by the RYA isn't sufficient, irrespective of where the boat is flagged. 

Until the end of 2020, the acceptance UK certificates for the operation of Spanish flagged pleasure boats was based on the UK being an EU Member State. Acceptance on that basis ceased from 1 January. In order to be recognised by Spain for the operation (including bareboat charter) of Spanish flagged pleasure boats, RYA certificates needed to be listed in Annex IX of the Royal Decree 875/2014 regulating nautical qualifications for the operation of pleasure boats.  

Royal Decree 339/2021 regulating the safety equipment and pollution prevention of recreational craft was published on 19 May 2021 (in force on 1 July 2021). Crucially this also amends Annex IX of Royal Decree 875/2014, to include the following RYA practical certificates:

Certificate Boat length Distance from coast Type of vessel
Yachtmaster Ocean up to 24m Any As valid (motor or sail boat).
Yachtmaster Offshore up to 24m No more than 150 miles As valid (motor or sail boat).
Yachtmaster Coastal / Coastal Skipper up to 24m No more than 20 miles As valid (motor or sail boat).
Day Skipper up to 24m No more than 12 miles As valid (motor or sail boat).
Powerboat Level 2 up to 10m No more than 5 miles Motor boat
International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft valid for Sail and Coastal Waters up to 24m No more than 12 miles Sail boat
International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft valid for Power and Coastal Waters up to 24m No more than 12 miles Motor boat
International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft valid for Power up to 10m LOA and Coastal Waters up to 10m No more than 5 miles Motor boat


Royal Decree 875/2014 refers to Annex IX specifically in relation to the hire of Spanish flagged pleasure boats. These certificates may not be accepted in other scenarios. Professional RYA certificates that were previously accepted in Spain when the UK was an EU Member State may still not be acceptable for commercial activities in Spain. If we receive further information it will be added here. 

Standard entry and exit formalities

EU member state (part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters)).  Further information is provided on the Entry & Exit Formalities page under Customs - EU Member States.

Part of the Schengen area.

As part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters) and the Schengen area customs and immigration checks may not always be required on arrival and departure.

Canary Islands

The Canary islands are not part of the EU for the purposes of VAT (see VAT does not exist in the Canary Islands. Instead, there are two local consumer taxes, the IGIC (Impuesto General Indirecto de Canarias - Canaries General Indirect Tax) and the AIEM (Arbitrio sobre Importaciones y Entregas de Mercancías en las Islas Canarias - Tax on imports and deliveries to the Canary Islands). There is some information about these two taxes on the European Commission’s website at The RYA does not offer detailed advice on keeping your boat in the Canary Islands and recommends taking advice locally in the Canary Islands, to establish what taxes and rules apply there.

You must carry on board

Spanish translation of your insurance.

Holding tanks

See holding tanks for information on the discharge of waste water.

Keeping a boat in Spain

Generally speaking the RYA does not have the resources to investigate regulations applicable to boats kept abroad for extended periods in one country.  Although outside this scope the RYA has been made aware of and is therefore sharing the following information.

Boat owners should be aware of that some Spanish legislation relevant to recreational boating is applicable to foreign flagged boats owned by people or resident in Spain or companies with a registered office in Spain. This is the case with Royal Decree 339/2021, of 18 May which regulates the safety equipment and pollution prevention systems of recreational boats.

Law 38/1992 "Impuesto Especial sobre Determinados Medios de Transporte (IEDMT) which translated means special tax on particular means of transport states that a person or company that has a “permanent establishment” in Spain who owns a new or second hand boat that is intended to be used in Spanish waters must pay this special tax. The tax on "IEDMT" is often referred to as matriculation tax and is believed to be set at 12% of the market value of the boat. A guidance note from 2009 remains available for the historical information it contains. The law required the boat registration to be changed to the Spanish flag, however we have been told that as a result of Royal Decree 2/2011 (article 252) re-registration ceased to be required.

The onus will be on you to show that you are not subject to this legislation (e.g. not resident in Spain).

Other information

There are two further taxes G5 and T0. They are often collected with berthing fees, but as a result of regional and administrative variations they are sometimes payable separately.

The G5 tax is a tax which covers the use of Spanish waters, the harbour and its facilities.

The T0 tax is a tax relates to maritime signals (buoyage / lights etc.).


Incidents involving Orcas (Killer Whales) and recreational boats continue along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. Find out more