FAQs - Long Term Mooring | MooringSpot

FAQs - Long Term Mooring

FAQs - Long Term Mooring

Is it possible to rent a berth on a long term basis in the South of France ?


The shortest answer to this question would be “no”.
The longest period during which a boat or yacht can rent a berth in a French marina is one year. To be guaranteed the use of a mooring for periods longer than this, you must dispose of a “Guarantie d’Usage” (or Guaranteed Use Contract) or an “Amodiation”. This is what is generally referred to as “buying/selling a berth”, with prices and rental rates being uncorrelated.
Annual rental contracts are almost impossible to obtain. There are multiple reasons which contribute to this situation:
  • The Demand for mooring rentals is higher than the number of rental availabilities in the marinas of the area
  • The few boat owners who are fortunate to currently benefit from annual rental contracts have done so for many years. Often, these people have moored their boats in these Riviera ports since their early days and yachting is a passion they have had for many years, a passion that they usually never give up. Therefore, there is little turn-over and almost no availability for new comers who are often offered to put their name and contact details on a waiting list.
  • Many of the moorings along the Côte d’Azur (approximately 50%) are in “Private Marinas” where it is possible to acquire long term rights to use a berth by buying marina shares. Boat owners buy these shares in order to moor their own boats and not to rent them out, meaning the various private administrations are left with only a minority of the moorings available to rent out, which are mainly those located in the public section of the ports layouts.
  • When a privately leased berth is not being used by its lessee over long periods, it is rented out generally on a short term basis, as it is more profitable to do so for the shareholders and for the marina’s administration.
These factors do not highlight the varying scarcity of berths by size. Most of the marinas on the Côte d’Azur were built or extended for yachting in the 1960s and 1970s. In those days yachting was different. There was a growing demand for mooring facilities for boats up to 15 m. Boats at that time were not as wide as they are nowadays. And the wave of large yachts cruising along the French Riviera nowadays had not yet arrived. Though local authorities and port administrations have worked over the years to find space and adapt their layouts to modern yachts, there is only so much they can do. Yachts (i.e. boats over 80’ or 24 m in LOA) take up considerably more space than boats and creating space on the highly populated French Riviera is no simple task.



Is there really a shortage of berths ?

This statement can be misleading. There is a shortage of berths, but it is not general in Mediterranean France. It is very location specific. There are many ports and marinas, in the Mediterranean and particularly near the popular French Riviera. They have rental availabilities for all sizes of boats and yachts. Various moorings to rent can still be found along the Italian Riviera, Liguria, where over the past decade, the local authorities have encouraged the development of facilities to have ever more boat owners choose Italy their yachting base.
However the demand for berths varies considerably from port to port. The Old Port of Cannes may be a more appealing place to base a yacht than a marina in a less touristic and less accessible city. Likewise, there is a much higher demand, for instance, for mooring rentals in the ports of Monaco than in the ports of Menton just a few nautical miles away.

Therefore it would be more accurate to say that certain marinas receive much higher demand than others and in their case, it is valid to say “there is a shortage of berths”. Generally, without comparing port locations, there are not enough moorings for the yachts operating along the French Riviera.

A survey carried out by CCI Nice Côte d’Azur, shows that in 2009, for 1906 yachts (over 20 m LOA) there were 728 moorings on which they could moor between Menton and La Napoule. These figures imply that this area can only provide berths to 38% of the yacht fleet. In other terms, every time you see you a yacht over 20 m moored to a quay in this region, there are at least two other yachts either at anchor somewhere, or renting in Italy, or staying in a shipyard. And in most cases, the owners of these yachts are waiting to be able to get a mooring rental in the South of France. This situation is comparable to a game of musical chairs.



Can you really “buy” or “sell” a berth in the South of France ?


NO, It is not possible to “sell” (literally) a berth or mooring in France’s “Domaine Public Maritime”. This coastal domain or territory is by law the "inalienable" and "imprescriptible" collective property of France. Therefore berths always belong to France and they cannot be regarded as real estate or as a pieces of property which can be transferred between individuals as such. Other countries, such as Italy or Spain apply similar laws on their coastlines. Access to the sea is the property of the state. It is not the case however for berths located outside the Maritime Public Domain, like in ports along inland waterways.



Why is the expression of "buying" or "selling" a mooring so frequently used ?


This expression, though not accurate from a legal aspect, is simple to say and has now become common use. To be more precise, it designates the sale of rights and obligations which then grant the right to moor on a berth in an area of a port, usually defined in the port’s layout, without any defined affectation – and therefore subject to change – of one or several berths, and subject to the prior approval from the local authorities concerned.



What are these “Rights and Obligations” ?


These rights to moor in an area of the port, and the obligations they incur, can differ depending on the port or country. They are usually connected with lease contracts with the conceding authority (the State or an administration empowered to grant a concession). This authority remains the sole owner of the port and its buildings. Mooring rights are not freehold rights nor rights entitling the bearer to rent out a berth in a port.



Concretely, what do you buy ?


On the French Riviera, in most cases, in order to benefit from a lease contract, it is necessary to be a shareholder of the private port in question, or more precisely, the company that has the concession over the harbour. Each group of shares corresponds to a size of berth. However depending on which harbour you are in, this may not be the only requirement to fulfill in order to be granted a lease contract (or “amodiation”). For instance, some of the authorities in certain harbours require that all lease holders also use their berths, i.e., that they really use their right to moor their own boat or yacht (of which the dimensions must comply with the group of shares owned).



What are the taxes to be paid in these transactions ?


When I buy?


The sale must be declared by filling in a “Declaration de Cession de Droits Sociaux”, signed by both parties (in compliance with articles 639, 653, 662-3° and 726 of the French Taxes General Code). Three original copies of this declaration must be submitted no later than one month following de Sale. The Buyers, regardless of where they are domiciled, must pay a 5.81% tax as “Registration Rights” when submitting the declaration. You can download a copy of this tax form on the following link.



When I sell?


The ports and their berths can often be mistaken for being property or real estate. In the majority of cases, the rights and obligations sold are under the form of shares of companies holding the concession on the port concerned.

In the eyes of French Treasury, a company which exploits a harbour within the terms of a concession cannot own its buildings, its docks or its various structures. This property is fundamentally owned by the conceding authority, i.e. the French Republic.

Therefore, the shareholders of these companies do not have a real right on the property, but only a Right to Use (“Droit de jouissance”) and the capital gains that can result from the sale of these shares cannot qualify as capital gains on the sale of property.

In France, tax on gains from sales of title deeds granting the bearer a Right to Use comes under a separate regime for “movable assets and social rights”, detailed in articles 150 O-A of the French Taxes General Code.

This aspect of taxation can on occasion be little known to tax consultants and to the tax administrations as it is a relatively unusual case. Make sure you do not declare your gains (or losses) under the same regime as property.

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