Navigate under Spanish pavilion: a restrictive choice

Register your boat in Spain, a small boat big procedure

Do you want to register your boat in Spain and sail under Spanish pavilion? If the rules of navigation require you to choose a pavilion (French or foreign), the Spanish pavilion is not probably not the best choice. Professionals in the Plaisance de Plaisance de invites you to discover why.

Since 2011 nothing obliges you to record your boat in Spain to navigate in Spanish territorial waters

Need advice? Contact one of our advisers!


Is it mandatory to wear the Spanish pavilion to navigate in Spain?



 Spanish pavilion floating in the wind


Until 2011, foreign residents from the European Union (considered as such if they live on Spanish territory at least 183 days in the year) had the obligation to abandon their pavilion for the Spanish pavilion. It was the only solution to navigate in good standing in Spanish territorial waters. Overcoming the rule exposed in the event of customs control to a fine.

Since then, the legislation has softened and residents of foreign nationality (EU) can keep their original pavilion or choose another: French pavilion, Polish pavilion, Portuguese ... Spain, which has very specific navigation rules , then started his harmonization with the other states and now allows other pavilions. Indeed, before 2011, the country did not apply like the others the rule of free movement of pleasure boats in the interior waters of the EU, whatever the nationality of the pavilion.

Spanish (tax residents) can also choose another pavilion. The practice is quite common because this pavilion is synonymous with tedious and heavy approaches, much more restrictive constraints than in other countries.

Register your boat in Spain: for what type of boat?

In Spain, all boats (sailboats, motor boats and VNM) of more than 2.5 meters must be registered, regardless of the navigation area. Registration and obtaining the pavilion are carried out in the register of ships (log registration), managed by the general management of the merchant navy (DGMM). Indeed, Spain does not distinguish the navigation of pleasure from commercial and market navigation, which explains why the safety standards are so drastic.

Navigate under Spanish pavilion: a binding regulations

Spain is clearly at the top of the countries where the safety equipment is most restrictive. Even if security on a boat is an aspect to never neglect, when heavy investments for coastal navigation become necessary, one is entitled to wonder the legitimacy of such restrictions.

The navigating permit in Spain

Regardless of the nationality of the pavilion, Spain requires having a navigation permit for:

  • Navigate more than 2 miles from the coast
  • Use a motor boat over 5 meters and/or maximum engine power greater than 11.26 kW or 15hpv
  • Use a sailboat over 6 meters in hull length.


The country accepts your foreign license if you sail under a foreign pavilion. With the Spanish pavilion, you will have to pass your boat license. In Spain, there are four boat permits corresponding to four different levels:

  • The PNB license (Patron of Navegacion Basica), valid up to 5 miles from a shelter and for boats of maximum 7.5 meters for a motor ship and 8 meters for a sail boat
  • The per permit per (Recreo boam pattern), valid up to 12 miles from a shelter and for boats of 12 meters maximum, regardless of engine power (validation of your sailing practice is compulsory for a sailboat)
  • The Py license (Yate boss), valid up to 60 miles from a shelter and for boats of 20 meters maximum, without engine power limit (validated sailing practice is compulsory for a sailboat) with validation of radio practices
  • The CY permit (Capitan de Yate), valid up to 24 meters in hull length, without limitation of distance or engine power but with all the equipment and all the validated skills.

Of course, if you want to get the fourth, you must have validated the previous three. Each permit is quite expensive and the theoretical and practical courses are complex. Note that they are identical for the boater and the professional


Good to know: if you are a Spanish resident (tax resident more than 183 days a year) beating foreign pavilion, you must pass one of the Spanish permits.

Regulations on Spanish territorial waters navigation areas

Spain recognizes 7 navigation zones with specific constraints:

  • Zone 1: high seas with all regulatory equipment and CY license, reserved for design category boats A
  • Zone 2: up to 60 miles with the required equipment, the PY or CY license, reserved for category A and B boats
  • Zone 3: up to 25 miles with the equipment and the py or cy license
  • Zone 4: up to 12 miles with the equipment and permit per, py or cy
  • Zone 5: up to 5 miles with equipment and a license
  • Zone 6: up to 2 miles accessible to all boats
  • Zone 7: Interior waters


Mandatory security elements on a Spanish flag beating boat

Here again, Spain is one of the most restrictive countries, always for the reason for harmonization of all categories of navigants.

The compulsory safety equipment on board is similar to that of a commercial boat. It varies according to the navigation area and the type of boat. If it must be stamped this, it must also be approved by the DGMM and costs on average more expensive than in France. The survival raft such as fire extinguishers and radiobalizes it in particular, must be checked every year.

In addition, a technical inspection of boats (ITB) every 5 years is compulsory (and paid) for boats of more than 6 meters, in order to be able to renew your navigation permit. This can be the occasion (always compulsory) to update the equipment (VHF, BIB, etc.) depending on the evolution of homologation by the DGMM.


Taxes and taxes to beat Spanish pavilion

In French territorial waters, navigating under the French pavilion involves paying the DAFN (annual francization and navigation right) and navigating under the foreign pavilion of a right of passport to the identical annual amount. Even more advantageous, the Dutch, English and Polish pavilions have no annual tax.

In Spain, an annual tax applies, variable depending on the hull length, the type of boat, the navigation area and the ship register with which the boat is saved.

To know : To buy a new boat of more than 7.5 meters in Spain before requesting a Spanish pavilion, know that the various taxes including VAT are higher than in France. VAT is 16% but added the registration tax by 12% or a total of 28% of the value of the boat, including equipment.

As a reminder, here is the text of law n ° 2016-816 of June 20, 2016 for the blue economy ending all the advantages that the recording of a boat under the European pavilion could represent:
Art. L. 5241-1-1.- Whatever their pavilion, pleasure vessels and nautical nautical vehicles belonging to natural or legal persons with their main residence or their head office in France as well as pleasure ships and Engine nautical vehicles of which these people have enjoyment are subject, in French territorial waters, to all rules relating to the lines of driving of ships and the armaments and safety equipment applicable on board pleasure ships and Nautical vehicles with a French flag engine. "

DAFN and Maritime passport law under Spanish pavilion

To navigate in all serenity and legally in French or foreign waters if you are a French resident under Spanish pavilion, you will still have to pay the right of passport. Its amount is strictly identical to that of the DAFN (annual francization and navigation right). In addition, it is compulsory regardless of the maritime navigation area on the globe and also in wintering.

To calculate the amount of your DAFN (dilapidation included), we provide you with an intelligent calculator.

Access the calculator

The benefits to beat Spanish pavilion

Unfortunately, there is nothing to counterbalance all these constraints and we can only recommend that you choose another pavilion for your boat. The experts at BoatIMMARTCOCTE.COM support you in your ship's registration project.

Subscribe boat insurance under Spanish pavilion

If we have not managed to be right and you want to display the Spanish pavilion, you can absolutely take out boat insurance to navigate with confidence. Our partner, April Marine, offers all -risk and third party guarantees for all pleasure boats, regardless of their pavilion.


Our opinion on the Spanish pavilion in 2022


There is no advantage in recording your boat in Spain in 2022, unless you are a Spanish tax resident. However, even in this situation, you have other solutions ....

Vous souhaitez être contacté ?

Contactez-nous via ce formulaire ou par téléphone au 04 22 32 58 48

Navigate under Spanish pavilion: a restrictive choice –