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Procedures to change flag in Italy: what is the meaning of Flag State?

Procedures to change flag in Italy: what is the meaning of Flag State? 

The expression "flag state" refers to the state that attributes its nationality to a ship.

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on Maritime Law of December 10, 1982, each State effectively exercises its jurisdiction and control over administrative, technical and social matters over the ships which sails under its flag, as well as over their commanders, officers and crews.

Any ship can register under the flag of any state and navigate within the territorial waters of a third state (as well as moor in ports), as long as it is not offensive.

The display of the flag is mandatory for all boats and ships, both at sea and in port.

When entering the territorial waters of a state other than the flag state, it is good practise to hoist the so-called "courtesy flag", in order to signal the willingness to be subject to the host state navigation laws.

The Montego Bay Convention allows every European citizen to register their recreational boats in any State of the European Union.

Some states allow you to register your boat even if you are not a resident. Among these there are:

- Belgium;

- France;

- England;

- Austria.

Procedures to change flag in Italy: cancelling your boat registration 

In Italy, recreational crafts ( ten meters to twenty-four meters long) are registered by the Port Authorities, by the maritime district offices, as well as by the provincial offices of the Department of land transport and information and statistical systems, authorized by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport.

The owner who wishes to proceed with the change of flag of a pleasure craft must first proceed with the cancellation from the register.

The deletion of a recreational boat from the Central Electronic Archive of pleasure crafts can occur in the following cases:

- sale or transfer abroad;

- demolition;

- change of boat category;

- change of register;

- actual or presumed loss.

In case of sale of the boat abroad or of deletion from the Central Electronic Archive in order to register the boat into the registers of a foreign country, with retention of ownership, the owner is required to lodge with the Pleasure Boaters' online-access point, as well as with the sole registrar an application for permission of dismissal of the flag or  demolition of a pleasure craft. The permission must be issued no later than 30 days from the request.

Procedures to change flag in Italy: Can foreign citizens pilot pleasure crafts in Italian territorial waters? 

Foreigners and Italian citizens residing abroad, who possess a license or a document recognized as equivalent by the foreign state of belonging or residence, can command, free of charge, registered boats and pleasure crafts, within the limits of the license itself.

Those who reside abroad (foreigners and Italian citizens) see their obligation to have a boat license governed by the law of the flag state of the unit.

Foreigners and Italian citizens residing abroad are required to have a boat license, pursuant to the laws of the flag state.

Citizens of EU member states are exempted from the requirement of the license to command recreational craft, if they produce a declaration issued by their authorities showing that the laws, respectively, of the country of origin or of the flag state do not require issuing any license.

Procedures to change flag in Italy: can a foreigner keep a boat under Italian flag?

Foreigners and non-Italian domiciled foreign companies, which want to register or keep their pleasure crafts registered in the Central Electronic Archive, should elect domicile either at the consular authority of their State of belonging, or with an Italian-domiciled  representative, whom can be contacted by the maritime or inland navigation authorities in case of communications relating to the registered boat.

If the representative himself is a foreigner, he must be duly domiciled in Italy.

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