French annual boat tax: droit de passeport

Old and feeble. I’m referring to the French annual Boat Tax – the droit de passeport – for residents in France who on January 1st each year own and/or operate a foreign-flag vessel over 7 metres long or with motorisation over 22 fiscal HP (about 180HP real). The deadline is April 1st, and the proceeds (€39 million in 2011) go to coastal conservation. Note that Britain is about the only country not to tax yachts (a luxury), obviously not needing any €39 million.

Yachts in harbourThe keys to avoid paying more than a token amount are vétusté (decay) and faible puissance (low power). The droit de passeport is based on the overall hull length and the combined fiscal Horsepower of the motor(s). in 2012 it was adjusted to penalise high power but compensating with a reduction in the length calculation. But the real benefit is the generous reductions for old age (vétusté) of both hull and motors: 30% for over 10 years; 55% for 20 years; and 80% for over 25 years. My own “classic” motor-yacht is just under 9 metres, attracting hull tax of €105, less 80% = €21. The twin vintage Perkins engines are rated at 7HP each, making €315 for the pair. Deducting 80% reduces this to €63. Total tax €84, giving me the right to complain about France should I wish. Those residents who do not pay their taxes should keep their mouths shut.

Any resident boat-owner uncertain about his droit de passeport obligation (also for Jet-skis) should contact the douanes before the yacht is boarded at sea or in port. On the Riviera this would be the Cannes bureau at Quai Pantiero: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 04 93 06 56 00 or see www.douane.gouv.fr

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