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Old 31-03-2009, 13:16   #31
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Unless there is something related to this specific issue I think we don't need to hijack the thread for other purposes. If anyone has other issues to discuss they can start a new thread themselves and direct discussion in that direction. If it's a question that is boating related and worth asking it's worth starting a new thread. If we keep things on topic it makes it easier for all.
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Old 01-04-2009, 14:37   #32
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What other sites?
only reason I ask is because I'm still in college but have always wanted to cruise and am looking for more forums to read while killing time at my internship. This forum is really great btw.

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Old 03-04-2009, 09:22   #33
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Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. My wife and I are overwhelmed with this amount of answers, suggestions, support, ideas, contacts, etc.

We visited the Belgium consulate ans we spent plenty of time with our lawyer. Really nice and helpful man. My impression is that he knows what he is doing. We had a meetings at his office. We also went with him to meet the Commander of the Guardia Civil. It was a bit like getting in heart of evil for me, and I was psychologically prepared to stay cool (lawyer and wife's instructions), but I must say the Commander and another officer behaved very polite (no arrogant manners like the policeman in the Marina). So I must say that helped. We also went to meet a Merchant Marine officer (which according to the lawyer seem to be the relevant authority upon small private sailboats). He was pretty hermetic and basically kept saying that once he had all the documents he would issue produce some kind of paper (which is not expected to be good). Then our lawyer and us had a long lunch while discussing our situation is.

We came back to the internet cafe and this is when we were totally overwhelmed. I am not really into using the internet and had never joined any forum before nor planned to. I came across some of them now and then when searching for some sailing matter, but never really got into it. So when we sat down in the computer and saw all the answers, ideas, contacts, messages of support, etc. we were really impressed. And we can only say thank you one million times to all of you. Honestly, when we came to the internet cafe a few days ago we had no idea what our chances as new members would be to get any useful response so we joined three different forums and placed the same repeated message. But we have been reading replies for nearly three hours, writing down contact information, ideas, suggestions, etc. It will be impossible right now to answer all of you on your names (well, actually your nicks, for most of you) but we will want to do it in the future. We have carefully gone through every single of your messages with care and attention and have written down anything that sounded could help. Some of them seem so obvious now, but we could not realise before due to our frustration. We have printed lots of information. And we will keep deep in our hearts some of the emails you sent us. A few cynical in one particular forum (no regrets, though). Quite a few posts we don't understand, but we have printed them all eventually we will.

Many of you recommend that we do not show any kind of resentment. And that was our lawyer's advise too. He also recommends that we keep a low profile and don't make a public case out of it. He wasn't happy with the idea of us having posted in three internet forums, specially when we told him I was furious and let myself go a bit. He advised me not to disclose personal information or precise data. We have published our first names, that we had been in Benalmadena in the winter, etc. Somehow I had in the back of my mind that it was better not to mention our current situation, and the lawyer asked us to keep it this way. So, please, excuse us for not sharing some of the information publicly for now. We will eventually and will give you all the details once this nightmare is over (God hear us!!), just in case it is of some use to any of you.

In summary (saving some bits out of the advised discretion), we are, as mentioned Belgium citizens and our boat is registered in the Belgium registry. VAT is paid on our boat in Belgium, of course. We never had any tax nor legal issues and we didn't intend to have them now. He had Benalmadena as a base for some time and had a wonderful time there and left quite some friends, mostly foreigners living there but also locals. The farewell party they made was one of the most emotional moments in our sailing retirement.

It is true, as some of you point, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. I had heard this sentence before. But we all also heard that "in Rome do as the Romans do". I mean, if the law is evenly applied in a given location, you can learn what your expected behave is by observing, asking, getting around, and adapt to the expected behavior. But if a country has one of the harshest regulations in the world but you generally allows everyone to break them, it creates a general expectation in people. Then it is unfair to sting one random victim once in a while and destroy his or her life. And this is what happened to us. When we arrived to Spain we asked and talked to people in our similar situation. We met foreign friends who have been living in Spain for years. We even made a Spanish friend who owns a boat here under German flag without ever having had been questioned about it by the police. We called him today on the phone and he could not believe our story. Everyone we tell of our story seems so surprised, since everyone knows foreigners living in Spain on a permanent basis on their foreign flag boats without any conflict with the authorities. Then, why us but no one else? To give you an idea of our attitude, on our arrival to Spain we found that we had to have a valid insurance policy and ours was not. So we hired an additional local insurance policy for the time we were here. We paid 540 Euros for it. So it is not like we were trying to sneak our way in the country without abiding by its rules.

From what I understand, the 183-day rule applies in different ways: when it comes to personal taxes, the counter is re-set every 1st of January, whereas in order to define your personal status the 183 days within the last year applies, regardless of calendar years. So we are not liable for personal taxes in Spain. We have not infringed any immigration laws (as European citizens we are entitled to stay here forever if we want and any registration formality seems to be optional). But because of my statement to the policeman about having been here almost a year we are now being considered as resident to other purposes like being subject to all the regulations for Spaniards, which seem to be so complex that no one here understands them completely, not lawyers nor officials (and I swear this is not my ranting again, but the lawyers word which he says will be part of his legal strategy). And since we are now subject to Spanish regulations, just like any other Spaniard, we can be accused of having violated several of them:
- We are liable to pay the boat registration tax, which is 12% on the value of the boat as set by the authorities as set by an official spreadsheet, according to which our boat is worth 185000 Euros. So the tax is expected to be 22200 Euros!!! Plus, some fines are also possible since we didn't pay voluntarily such tax which may double this amount!!!
- We can be called liable to penalties for having violated the prohibition to sail a non-registered boat.
- Also, we can be called liable to penalties for having violated
The maximum penalty for any of these two can be up to 120000 Euros!!! However, our lawyer assured that this is a maximum set forth by the same regulations that apply to oil tankers and is always applied at the minimum amounts when it comes to private sailboats. However, he has specifically refused to give us an approximation, so you can imagine how much this Sword of Damocles upon our heads hurts.

Our lawyer is submitting a paper (called "recurso" and could not translate for us) protesting the sealing of the boat. Then we will receive a tax assessment, which he will also protest. And finally, we will also receive the fines (the tax fines and those for the infringement of the sailing regulations), all of which he will also protest. So we have to wait to receive those assessments and penalties, then protest them and wait for the outcome on every one of these "recursos", which will follow an independent procedure whose length is unpredictable (could be two months or years). And while we wait for the outcome, the tax assessments have to be paid or guaranteed with a banking bond; otherwise, they may sell our boat in an auction to pay for it. (Deep breath here!!!!).

So. This is as far as an art critic and an interior dessigner reached to understand their new legal status. Honestly, I don't think it is fair on us that we find ourselves in this situation. At the consulate they said there is not much they can do as long as what the authorities do is legal other than put us in contact with a lawyer. And we already have one that we trust (to the extent that we have put our lives in his hands). We just don't have available the kind of money we may be talking about so we can do nothing but trust our lawyer and get him all the support, ideas, suggestions, etc. as we can. So again, let me tell you how much we really appreciate the loads of information we have encountered in these forums. Thank you very much again. We have written down and printed most of it and we will process it carefully.

I apologyse for not responding to all of your messages now. We will do it as soon as we can. Especially to all of you who sent us some kind private messages. But this internet place is far from the boat and it is rather uncomfortable (we have been here sitting for a few hours and we don't manage well with this forum computer programs). We are exhausted and have to go now. We don't have a computer with us and to the extent possible we'll stick to our personal option to stay away from them. If this nightmare gets too long we may have to buy one and hire an internet connection but we hope we don't have to (it would be an additional failure).

And once this is over we will tell you everything about it so you can help others to avoid falling in the same deep well we are in now. That's all what we can do in appreciation for your response to our cry out for help.
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:34   #34
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Good luck with your appeal!

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... Our lawyer is submitting a paper (called "recurso" and could not translate for us) protesting the sealing of the boat ...
A recurso is a legal appeal against an official decision.
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Old 03-04-2009, 13:02   #35
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It sounds like they are getting a handle on it, but what a load of overbearing aggravation? It really makes a mockery of the “European Community,” and makes you wonder whether there isn’t something else cooking, which neither we nor the Christoff’s know about.
Having lived in Spain on our boat for years, (pre EEC), we mainly found port officials fairly easy going with yachtsmen. But sometimes you would hear they had nailed somebody for a seemingly trivial infringement, but when you got to the bottom on it, it was invariably a matter of nationality or mistaken translation.
I wouldn’t mind betting, after all this commotion, and having coughed up lawyers fees and offered profuse apologies to all, including the sweeper-up, the Christoff’s are let off with a slap on the wrist.
I'm also sure I wouldn't be so sanguine if it was me, so let us sincerely hope so, “Since there, but for the grace of god.......”
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Old 03-04-2009, 13:20   #36
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Perhaps this a new way to raise money for a failing economy ??
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Old 03-04-2009, 13:20   #37
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damn, makes a good 'ol southern boy think twice about those bolt cutters and sneakin out of port under the cloud of a diversion huh?
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Old 03-04-2009, 14:11   #38
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Perhaps this a new way to raise money for a failing economy ??
Many a true word spoken in jest my friend, and if I was cruising Greece, I would make sure very carefully that I was not next in line. The Greeks have done it before, around 1980, frisking British charter companies, who promptly upped anchor and went to Turkey.
Some of these Latins actually will cut off their nose to spite their faces, and kill the golden goose - just for pride. But I'm praying this will not be the case here, because the Christoff's seem to have made a genuine mundane error against a very complicated set of rules. So let's hope common sense prevails for them.
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Old 03-04-2009, 15:15   #39
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made a genuine mundane error against a very complicated set of rules. .
2 errors. Their boat isnt registered.
That rule isnt compilcated. When you sail out of your country the boat must be registered.
I would think the lack of registration may be a fair slab of their difficulties.

If the didnt register their boat would they have paid VAT?

Well, they may be in for the high hoops. Selling their boat at Government auction in a depressed time.

Its a good, strong, lesson for us all:

Research where we are going, cross the T's, dot the i's, and DON'T bend the rules!


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Old 03-04-2009, 19:43   #40
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Sorry to here your misfortune. Before you lie about your whereabouts remember they can check your passport for dates. Remember the truth will set you free.
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:57   #41
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2 errors. Their boat isnt registered.
That rule isnt compilcated. When you sail out of your country the boat must be registered.
I would think the lack of registration may be a fair slab of their difficulties.
Not sure where you got that from. OP says boat registered in Belgium. and VAT paid.......of course does not mean that the boat should not have also been registered within Spain when staying over the time limits for Spain, but that seems to be more of a tax / regulation issue - not actual shipping registry........but I guess if OP had known about any requirement to register in Spain, he wouldn't be in this pickle. or in Spain at all!

Quote:
If the didnt register their boat would they have paid VAT?
In the UK no requirement to Register a boat for domestic use. But that does not remove the need to pay VAT. In any case OP's problem is not VAT.

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Research where we are going, cross the T's, dot the i's, and DON'T bend the rules!
Last week I registered my boat as being in Jersey (this is different from the Ships registry - UK Part 1 / Blue Book)....cost me £18.00, they were not too bothered that she had already been here around 4 years But I had to do it as I am after an "official" mooring somewhere nice - which also means I will now be sent a mooring bill every year

Sometimes life has too much paperwork in it
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:18   #42
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Not sure where you got that from. OP says boat registered in Belgium. and VAT paid
Oops!

Quote:
we are, as mentioned Belgium citizens and our boat is registered in the Belgium registry. VAT is paid
Ooops, I made a mistake there!

Sorry about that... brain fade.
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:28   #43
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Oops!



Ooops, I made a mistake there!

Sorry about that... brain fade.
I rest my case.
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:44   #44
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Sorry about that... brain fade.
I figure another couple of posts in this thread and I will also have trouble remembering what is going on. I get that in real life as well
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:36   #45
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There’s not much more to be said really. The Christoff’s told us as much as they have been advised to at this stage, and promise to report as soon as they get more relevant information. I think they have done pretty well for newby’s to a forum, especially since they must be under tremendous personal pressure, and English is not their native language.
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