New cruising and charter regulations for foreign-flagged vessels in the South Pacific have been announced, allowing yacht crew to work tax-free in New Zealand for up to two years.
The New Zealand Marine Industry Association (NZ Marine) has declared that eased restrictions agreed upon by the four main yachting hubs of the South Pacific will come into action from August 2022.
New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and French Polynesia are the countries involved in the new Temporary Import Entry (TIE) program. The countries had already agreed on the amended rules prior to the pandemic, but strict border closures over the last two years meant they could not be put into practice until now.
"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," commented NZ Marine CEO Peter Busfield.
Specifically, the new TIE rules allow foreign-flagged superyachts to cruise and commercially charter in each of the four countries for a minimum of two years on a revolving basis. French Polynesia has announced an even longer period of 60 months for foreign vessels to visit its islands, including Tahiti, while Australian officials have noted that the two-year contract can be extended in that country.
New Zealand, which will be hosting the America’s Cup regatta once again in 2024, has confirmed that visiting yachts can stay up to 24 months after applying for the new TIE certificate, without needing to be officially imported into the country.
There’s also an update for crew regulations thanks to the new rules; crewmembers are excluded from paying tax if they are not employed by a New Zealand resident or company and have not stayed in the country for more than 365 consecutive days in a two-year period. Any goods, equipment, and services purchased for foreign yachts during the TIE period — such as berthage costs, repairs, or refit works — are also exempt from being taxed.
It has been specified that superyachts over 500 GT visiting New Zealand ports will also need the services of a pilot, with a pilotage exemption or accreditation to be attained ahead of arrival.
After undergoing some of the most severe lockdown measures in the world, the announcement marks the rejuvenation of the superyacht industry for Oceania and the wider South Pacific.