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Foreign-flagged vessels permitted to the cruise in the South Pacific under new regulations

24 May 2022• Written by Olivia Michel

The New Zealand Marine Industry Association (NZ Marine) has announced that updated yachting regulations will finally come into play from August. The new regulations were agreed upon by the four major yachting hubs of the South Pacific Sea two years ago, but due to Covid-19 border closures they could not be implemented until before 2022.

The new regulations will allow foreign-flagged superyachts to cruise each country’s waters for a minimum of two years on a revolving basis under new Temporary Import Entry (TIE) rules. Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Zealand coordinated to introduce new TIE rules, and they will come into force following the final easing of pandemic-related restrictions in the next few weeks.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand
All images courtesy of Unsplash.

All four countries are open to foreign-flagged chartering too, with Tahiti announcing an extended cruising allowance of up to 60 months. Meanwhile, yachts visiting Australia can also apply for an extension of their stay after two years.

"While technically the various countries got alignment with (TIE) periods and charter two years ago, due to Covid lockdowns, it is only from this season August 2022 that visiting yachts can enter the South Pacific countries using the new relaxed rules of longer stay and chartering in all four countries," explained Peter Busfield, CEO of NZ Marine.

Auckland is welcoming back superyachts.

Documentation prepared by NZ Marine has specified that a visiting yacht is now entitled to stay in new Zealand for up to 24 months without needing to be officially imported into New Zealand – visitors need only apply for a TIE certificate from New Zealand customs prior to arrival.

Visiting superyachts over 500 GT will also need the services of a pilot when visiting ports in New Zealand under the TIE certificate. A pilotage exemption/accreditation can be attained for visiting Auckland.

Superyachts can now stay in Tahiti for up to 60 months

Any goods, equipment and services purchased for yachts in the country during the TIE period are exempt from tax – this includes berthage costs, repairs or refitting work. Yacht crew are also not required to pay tax providing they are not employed by a New Zealand resident or company and do not stay in the country for longer than 365 days in any two-year period.

The move marks a positive step for the South Pacific yachting industry. Superyacht facilities are available in all four countries, with New Zealand offering a refit hub that allows for warrantee repairs, complex rebuilds or scheduled services to be undertaken to facilitate multiple seasons in the region.

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