British Virgin Islands cracks down on unauthorised charter boat operations

Tortola Harbour, British Virgin Islands
Tortola Harbour, British Virgin Islands

The government of the British Virgin Islands recently detained nearly 200 vessels as part of a campaign against local charter boat companies that have been conducting operations illegally.

In a statement issued on Thursday, March 17, the BVI government said that it detained approximately 46 vessels that should not be conducting charters at this time due to violations of the Commercial Recreational Vessel Licensing Act 1992 and for failure to meet safety requirements.

Another 138 vessels of a single charter company were meanwhile seized after compliance checks revealed that one of the official documents related to these vessels was tampered with, resulting in a US$20,000 penalty for the owner.

The government also had to fine another charter company for a number of vessels that were detained in the Virgin Gorda marina and boat yard without any status to be in the Virgin Islands. In addition to a number of violations under customs laws (including the Commercial Recreational Vessel Licensing Act of 1992 specifically the seven charter pick up maximum/year for foreign based charter vessels), these vessels currently do not have any status in the Virgin Islands.

The government said that without status, duty must be paid unless vessels are commercially licenced.

Many vessels were found to be offered for hire without having onboard essential safety equipment for protection of guests and clients. The equipment lacking in many instances are:

  • Propane detectors
  • High water alarms
  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flares
  • Life jackets

The government said that currently, there are approximately 184 vessels that are detained and will be secured by bond until they meet the requirements to be offered for hire.

The BVI Customs Department has extended the date to be commercially licenced until April 15, 2022. If the vessels are not licenced by that date, the duties become payable at five per cent of the value of each vessel.

If the combined value of all vessels is in excess of US$100 million, the companies must produce a bond of five per cent to secure the duty owed.

In addition to those violations, the majority of these vessels do not meet the minimum safety requirements that will enable them to receive a safety and exemption certificate to allow them to be considered home-based charter vessels.

The Customs Department, Labour Department, Immigration Department, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, BVI Ports Authority, and Financial Investigation Agency have all been working closely to ensure continued compliance in the marine industry.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Baird Maritime / Work Boat World