How to change the flag to the boat in 2023


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Change the flag to the boat in 2023 by switching to Polish flag or Slovenian flag? It can still be done in the new year. Here are the steps, documents and costs to change the flag to the Italian boat.

How to change the flag to the boat in 2023

About the phenomenon of switching flags to the boat, we have already talked about it in the article Why Italians Register Boats with Polish and Slovenian Flags, and basically the reasons are: less bureaucracy, one-time certain costs and time, no safety certificate expiration, and the ability to do everything online. Changing a boat’s flag is easy if you contact a maritime agency that specializes in foreign flags. The key steps are:

  • Decommissioning of the Italian flag
  • Choice of foreign flag and agency
  • Change of flag to Polish or Slovenian, submission of documents
  • Obtaining foreign license and flag, and radio license.

🇮🇹 Decommissioning of the Italian flag

Deregistration from the recreational boat registry
, is a prerequisite to reflagging the boat and being able to begin registration with another state. It is necessary to address a STED desk (at contracted shipping agencies, maritime offices and DMV offices), and it is also good to contact the boat’s insurance company in advance. The Nautical Code, speaks clearly: The owner who, while retaining ownership, wishes to delete the boat from the Central Telematic Archive of Recreational Units (ATCN) for registration in the registers of a foreign country, must submit the request Permanent deletion from records, through the Telematics Service for Boaters (STED), to the Single Registrar (UCON), and must receive the nothing precludes flag divestment by the same. Original boat documents are needed, (boat license) which will be collected by the Desk. Under the law, The Single Registrar (UCON), Carries out the assessment provided for in Art 15 of Law July 26, 1984, no. 413, concerning the successful payment of contribution credits for the crew and still issue the clearance for flag divestment within 30 days of receiving the request .

How much does it cost

The new
STED tariffs
for Permanent deletion from the registers at the request of the vessel owner with issuance of extract rid provide for a cost of 23.50 plus 32 euros stamp, plus 9.50 bulletin for the cost of the operation if carried out at maritime offices. If the boat is not yet in the ATCN computer registry, the procedure may be a bit longer and more expensive.

Choose Polish or Slovenian flag for the boat

Poland and Slovenia, are the only EU states that, even in 2023, will maintain the possibility for nonresidents or domiciliaries of their respective states
to register vessels under their flag. Belgium, France, Germany, and Holland, whose flags were the most popular in past years, impose domicile or residence of the shipowner. For Italian boat owners, the only real alternative to reflagging their Italian-registered boat in 2023 is the Polish flag or the Slovenian flag.

Table shows the differences between the Italian, Polish, and Slovenian flags. Approximate approximate costs for a 12-meter sailboat.

Table shows the differences between the Italian, Polish, and Slovenian flags. Approximate approximate costs for a 12-meter sailboat.

🇮 Italian 🇵 Polish 🇸🇮 Slovenian
Minimum 20 Working Days, but many users report at least 40 days, with considerable bureaucracy.
VHF radio license to be handled separately from registration.
Three to seven days for provisional leave,
Final license after about 30 days.
VHF Radio License is obtained online after registration.
Approximately 3 weeks for final license
Renewals and fees Security certificate to be renewed
Every 8 years and then every 5 years,
expense for visit and renewal about 450€ plus maintenance.
Radio license expires every 10 years.
No deadline, follow-up visit or fee. The license has duration.
Radio and MMSI operating license expires every 10 years
(about 300€ renewal)
IRS: Mandatory RW panel
Renewal every 5 years, 260€
MMSI Annual Fee 50€
Taxation: Mandatory RW panel
Procedure Through STED counter,
with original documents
and postal or agency bulletins. Obtaining MMSI Radio License is done through Telecommunications Inspectorate, it is separate procedure, it takes about a month.
For new boats, you can do everything online with scanning
Of documents, pre-registered boats need certificate of cancellation from RID
Documents are needed
in original or to be mailed, pre-registered boats need certificate of cancellation from RID
Between STED costs, bulletins
agency costs to VHF licenses
an indicative cost
of at least 1000€
850€ +300€ to obtain operating license
VHF and related MMSI
About 800 Euro for a 12metre, rate based on boat length
300€ to obtain operating license
VHF and related MMSI
Safety Equipment Depending on the distance from the coast, according to the Safety Equipment Table. No obligation, “at the discretion of the commander” Similar to the Italian ones with some variations

🇵 How to register the boat with Polish flag

One can register the Polish-flagged boat by doing everything online
through maritime agencies or specialized sites. The following documents are needed to register the boat under the Polish flag:

  • Italian flag decommissioning (RID cancellation at STED)
  • the deed of sale (called the bill of sale)
  • identity documents of the shipowner
  • photographs of the engine nameplate
  • the declaration of hull conformity
  • the engine power declaration
  • a photograph of the CIN code applied to the hull
  • A photograph of the manufacturer’s nameplate.

For NON CE-marked units in some cases you will also need expert opinion attesting to the actual dimensions. Three names for the boat (the first not already assigned will be chosen) and choice of port of call in Poland, e.g. GDANSK (Gdansk).

The agency will send the documents and get you the provisional sailing license in 3-7 days, upon final registration of the boat with Polish sailing license in one month, you will also be able to get the MMSI code. Many agencies also offer translation of the documents.

Before raising the Polish flag , it is necessary to expose lheserial number (license plate numbers) on both sides of the vessel, with letters at least 10cm high, and it is mandatory to write on the stern the name and the port of registration. In the Italian tax return we will have to fill out the RW panel indicating the ownership of the foreign boat.

🇵 The VHF radio license with Polish flag.

In order to obtain a Polish-flagged VHF radio license, you will need to submit online the EC Type Approval Certificate of the radio equipment installed on board, and the shipowner’s radio operator’s certificate (a copy of the Italian RTF limited one is fine). The Polish MMSI is required at an added cost of about 25o Euros on the registration cost, and takes about 4-5 weeks from receipt of the Polish sailing license. There is no license for portable VHF devices (which do require a license in Italy). Polish flag VHF radio license and MMSI last for 10 years, then need to be renewed .

Some agencies, offer the option of applying for a radio license without an RTF certificate by mentioning their company as the boat operator to still obtain the MMSI, without blocking the process while the boat owner obtains the RTF certificate to operate.

🇸🇮 How to register boat with Slovenian flag.

The documents required to register the boat under the Slovenian flag are:

  • divestment of the Italian flag
  • notarized bill of sale
  • engine power declaration
  • ID card
  • photographs of the engine nameplate
  • CIN code and CE plate
  • photograph of the entire vessel
  • Unit type-approval certificate with hull dimensions (or expert report certifying dimensions for non-EC boats).

The VHF operating license requires the radio equipment approval certificate. To the chosen name of the boat , the port of Amsterdam will typically be assigned. The Slovenian sailing license is obtained in about 3 weeks. Again, in the tax return we will have to fill out the RW framework.

🦺 Safety equipment with Polish flag.

Safety equipment for the Polish flag deserves a chapter because at present There are no mandatory safety equipment for the Polish flag. The choice of equipment is at the discretion of the commander. (Safety equipment for Slovenia is defined in a very precise list, more extensive than that of Italy.)

Agencies advise that in order to sail in Italy under the Polish flag, you should still have on board the mandatory equipment required by the Italian Table of Safety Equipment. In fact, the discretion of the commander cannot fail to meet the need to ensure safety on board, and therefore it is not in fact true that “there is no mandatory equipment with the Polish flag” You have advantages on bureaucratic aspects of raft overhaul, or expiration of hand fires, but it is prassical to have on board the safety equipment required by the host state. If we sail under an Italian flag in French waters, for example, Italian safety equipment must be supplemented with French safety equipment.

Boat license

The nautical license should be referred to the skipper’s residence, so if the skipper has Italian residence and sails in Italy, regardless of the flag of the boat, he must have with him the nautical license to sail beyond 6 miles of the coast with an engine over 40.8hp.

Advantages and disadvantages with the Polish or Slovenian flag

Leaving it up to each shipowner to weigh the pros and cons of the various flags, we note that the phenomenon is growing, and changing flags from Italian to foreign for many boaters is a satisfaction that leaves little regret. Remember also that Italian flag is the only one that allows occasional chartering, which is not authorized under any foreign flag. It is good, therefore, to find out beforehand how to change the flag of the boat from Italian to foreign, in order to understand what to do even in the future, should we want to sell the boat, for the transfer of ownership with a Polish or Slovenian flag.

Luigi Gallerani


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