1 August 2020 saw the new Act on the Registration of Yachts and Other Vessels up to 24 Meters in Length come into force. While observing the direction in which its implementation is developing, it is worth taking a look at some important changes that will affect yacht owners wishing to register their vessels with Polish registries.
Freedom to choose the registration authority.
The small number of registration authorities out there have ceased to be sufficient to meet the demands of the developing yachting sector in Poland. All the more so that under the new law, legal and natural persons from the EU are now entitled to register their vessels with the Polish registry, as well (more at: https://www.marinepoland.com/news/note!-new-yacht-registration-rules-from-1-august-2020-in-poland!.html), with the registration authorities having recently had to face a massive migration of vessel owners and operators from the Netherlands and Belgium, where recent amendments to the yacht registration regulations have rendered them less favorable to the operators.
The new Act has made the starosta (or head of the county) a new (in addition to the existing sports associations) authority responsible for registering yachts with the newly established national registration system (Reja24). At the same time, apart from establishing the starost as a new yacht registration authority, the local jurisdiction (or regionalization, if you like) of registration authorities has been canceled. Presently, anyone intending to register a yacht under the Polish flag has full discretion in choosing the registration authority. From 1 August 2020, a yacht can be registered with any county office or any relevant sports association, with all the data finally ending up in the single registry, anyway.
Of course, the new legal situation needs time to "settle". We should not really expect every county office (or town with the county status) to be fully prepared and have perfect understanding of the new procedure. All the more so because the Reja 24 system is not the easiest to handle, especially for those local government staffers with no former experience in yacht registration.
However, the freedom to choose a registration authority is an important facilitation for owners and operators wishing to register their vessel under the Polish flag.
Attention - you must have a mailing address in Poland
The new law certainly provides good perspectives for yacht owners and operator from both Poland and the EU.
It is therefore somewhat surprising that among the formal requirements to be met by applicants the legislator should include a requirement for a mailing address in Poland.
The reason for this condition is not fully intelligible, since having to establish an address for service in Poland is bound to cause an unnecessary problem for foreign owners and operators.
One might expect the legislator to have used a more logical solution to this matter when constructing an Act of such significance to yachting and designed to strengthen the Polish flag.
It is worth reiterating here that operating a yacht under the Polish flag requires a license to operate radio equipment on that vessel. Consequently, the vessel’s owner or operator must apply to the Polish Office of Electronic Communications for a radio license.
Together with the radio license, the Office of Electronic Communications issues the vessel with a call sign and an MMSI (marine vessels) or ATIS (inland vessels) number required by international law for the safety of navigation.
When applying for a radio license, the natural person who owns the vessel is obliged to submit to the Office of Electronic Communications the relevant documents confirming his or her qualifications to operate the radio equipment on board the yacht that the authorization procedure applies to.
In the case of an applicant who is not a Polish national, the Office of Electronic Communications will only recognize qualifications awarded by the Royal Yachting Association, a British organization providing sailing training. The body issues competency certificates in English, which are among the most globally recognized.
The obligation to prove one’s qualifications does not apply to a legal person who owns the vessel and who is applying for a radio license for it, as it is believed that such legal person shall not at the same time be the skipper/master of the vessel, as this post must be held by a natural person.
Until now, the registry accepted call signs awarded by the Office of Electronic Communications, but such call signs could only be applied for if the vessel was entered in the Polish registry. Consequently, the owner or operator was forced to register their vessel without a call sign and then obtain the call sign from the Office of Electronic Communications. After these operations, the entry in the Polish registry of yachts could be supplemented with the newly awarded call sign.
The current Act on the Registration of Yachts and Other Vessels up to 24 Meters in Length and its implementing acts establish a new method of co-operation between the registry of yachts and the Office of Electronic Communications, which should facilitate the handling of formalities.
As a result of these changes, when a radio license is issued for the use of radio equipment in the maritime and inland radio communication service, and in the event of an amendment to or revocation or expiry of that license, the Office of Electronic Communications will promptly enter such details in the new registry (within a maximum of 24 h).
The registry entry contains the following details:
- the call sign or the marine MMSI number;
- the term of validity or the date of revocation or expiry of the radio license;
- the type of equipment.
The owner of the vessel having been awarded with their radio license will not have to worry about the status of their entry in the registry of yachts, as it will be automatically updated with the new details.
Emergency radio beacons
In view of existing EU legislation and the widely-defined safety of navigation, one’s EPIRB beacon reported to the Office of Electronic Communications must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority which, similarly to the Office of Electronic Communications, is expected to maintain permanent cooperation with the new registry and is obliged to promptly enter in the registry the following details:
- information on which act has been performed: an entry in the records, an amendment to an entry or removal of an entry from the records;
- the date of the entry in the records, amendment of an entry or removal of an entry from the records;
- the identification code of the emergency beacon.
Tomasz Wiśniewski, Patryk Zbroja
ZBROJA ADWOKACI Law Office