Under Greek law there are five separate vessel categories that are entitled to claim tax free fuel as per the provisions on the excise duty exemption and the VAT exemption currently in force for mineral oil products destined for bunkering.
As a rule of thumb, the vessels that have the right to claim the exemption are those (either of Greek or non-Greek flag) of at least 10-ton tonnage which perform open sea voyages, national, international or both.
The category of national sea voyages also includes, among other type of vessels (i.e. tugboats), the professional touristic vessels, which can, always under the terms and conditions laid by the relevant legal framework, to bunker without having to pay the applicable excise duty from the free reserves, i.e. they are entitle to a tax exemption from the special excise duty.
This exemption, however, is also available to the beneficiaries, as per the foregoing, in the form additionally, of a tax refund of the excise duty already paid, should they fulfil the applicable terms and conditions and should they file an application to that end to the competent custom authorities within a prescribed deadline.
According to the provisions of the Customs’ Code, the energy products that are destined to be utilized as navigation and shipping fuel within the E.U. waters are special excise duty exempt and this also applies to the touristic professional vessels, with the exception of the case where they are used as private use recreational/ pleasure vessels.
Private use pleasure vessels are any kind of vessels used by their owner (or the natural or legal person that exploits them based on any other legal relationship such as chartering, lease agreement etc.) for non-commercial purposes.
For the Special Excise Duty tax refund, the applicant (i.e. the owner) of the touristic professional pleasure boat (natural or legal person) obligatorily submits electronically through the ICIS NET online system to the competent customs office his/ her application requesting tax refund.
The Special Excise Duty tax refund application is submitted quadruple a year and refers to all bunkering of the immediately precedent trimester accompanied with the applicable justifications and invoices, while there is an option to apply per each semester (the deadline being until the end of January for the second semester and until the end of July for the first semester).
Various documents are filed with the application:
- Certificate of Registry
- Protocol of General Inspection
- Professional permit of the vessel (presently the attestation of the final registration to the e-registry that allocates the unique registry number)
- Photocopy of the bunkering books duly certified by the competent tax authorities and in force
- A comprehensive list of purchase invoices – the list follows a certain template provided for by circulars and this includes details on the quantities and type of fuel, purchase prices etc.
- C/P copies for the given period proving the vessel’s commercial activity – these must be already certified and stamped by the port authorities locally at the time of the voyages
- Passenger lists. It is imperative that each bunkering must have been done on the occasion of a charter, i.e. while the vessel is chartered, and no tax refund is given for fuel received by the vessel for a voyage for repairs or to dry-dock etc.
- Deck logbook (if the vessel has one)
The customs authorities are entitled to request further documentation or clarifications and quite often they do request.
We need to stress that, in order to bunker with special excise duty exempt fuel, the professional pleasure boat or request a tax refund, the Charter party must include and incorporate explicit provisions for the fuels and to the charge of which party they are agreed to be.
The competent Customs Authorities performs the application’s check and review and also confirms whether the applicant is one of the tax exemption beneficiaries as laid down by law, whether the application has been filed within the given deadline and whether it is accompanied by all the necessary documents and justifications.
The application is being admitted should all the above criteria are fulfilled and if not, it is rejected. The applicant is timely informed of the outcome in order to exercise his/ her legal rights.
Should the application is admitted, any likely outstanding debts from taxes and duties are set off, and in a reasonable -by the Administration standards- period of time the beneficiary’s indicated bank account is credited with the remainder.