Good news for yacht owners and charterers, in time for the summer season. Washington State is opening up superyacht charter permits in what Governor Jay Inslee cited as a “tourism-oriented bill” when he signed it into law last week.
The legislation received nearly unanimous bipartisan support in both the state’s House and Senate stemming back a few months. “Keeping Washington competitive with other cruising destinations is essential to continue to build a robust maritime economy in the state,” it reads.
Briefly, the law permits owners of out-of-state megayachts to charter through a new permitting system. This applies to both American-flagged yachts and foreign-flagged yachts holding a valid cruising license. Previously, Washington prohibited chartering—for superyachts as well as boats of any size—from non-resident owners who provided the captain and crew.
Notably, Washington State is opening up superyacht charter permits to incorporate yachts to 200 feet (61 meters). These yachts can charter for up to 60 days in a year, which need not be consecutive. Furthermore, they can offer charters on an annual basis without other time restrictions. Notably, out-of-state yachts previously needed to stay out of Washington waters for two years after concluding 180 days of charter.
The new charter permits come with fees, of course, which vary according to LOA. These fees further vary according to whether the owner is a U.S. citizen or foreign national.
The law takes effect on July 25, and remains valid through 2031.
The yachting organization Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) was among the supporters of the legislation. “Flanked by coalition partners, Northwest Marine Trade Association demonstrated to lawmakers that boating means business,” says Peter Schrappen, its vice president and director of government affairs. As to the governor’s tourism reference, he says, “It’s an easy way for people to understand this, because they are tourists.”
Monique Webber, chair of Superyacht Northwest, the association’s superyacht committee, adds that her group “continues to build a larger welcome mat” as vessels explore cruising and service options. “Washington State and the entire Pacific Northwest are blessed to have the scenery and trades,” she continues. “This new law will make it even easier for boats to visit.”
The new law is the latest making Washington more megayacht-friendly. In 2017, for instance, it lifted the requirement for pilots for certain regions.
Superyacht Northwest synw.org