In a display of the organisation’s commitment to ensuring that the BVI continues to play an important role in global commerce, economic development and cross-border trade, BVI Finance successfully hosted the latest in a series of dynamic breakfast forums.
The September breakfast forum, which was held on 14 September under the theme “Commercial Yachting in the BVI”, was co-sponsored by Harneys and saw over 50 industry practitioners and civil servants ready to discuss various topics related to the BVI’s commercial yachting industry.
The morning started off with BVI Finance’s Marketing Manager, Alicia Green, delivering an enthusiastic welcome message and then introducing Interim Executive Director, Lorna Smith, OBE who provided the audience with necessary updates on BVI Finance including the hiring of two new staff members – Wilma Blyden, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director and Gary Hales, Head of Business Development.
Following the Interim Executive Director’s remarks, Johann Henry, Partner at Harneys, gave his presentation on the key issues affecting the commercial operation of yachts in the BVI - obtaining a Trade License, registering yachts for commercial operation and obtaining a Commercial Recreational Vessel License.
Henry said, “We are not simply the charter yacht capital of the world or the most prolific offshore corporate domicile, but from a high level view [we are] a facilitator of the lifestyle choices of many high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals.”
He added, “All major players in the private sector, government and the relevant statutory bodies need to work together to ensure we end up with a cohesive regulatory regime.”
After Henry completed his portion of the presentation Captain Raman Bala, Director of Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) discussed the technical requirements for commercial registration and some positive developments to the merchant shipping legislation.
Captain Bala informed the audience that the documents required for commercial registration include a Certificate of Survey and Tonnage Measurement, Ship Station License, Stability Approval, the small Commercial Vessel Certificate of Compliance, the SCV – 2 and crew certificates and medicals.
He also added that the new developments coming soon to the Merchant Shipping Act 2001 include dual nationality for charters, widening the scope of eligibility to allow US Nationals to register vessels, an ‘under construction’ registration and a small ship register for pleasure vessels in the BVI coastal craft licensing.
To complete the morning’s presentations a team from BVI Customs including Wade Smith, Commissioner of Customs; Leslie Lettsome, Deputy Commissioner - Enforcement and Tashima Martin, Senior Customs Officer - Internal Audit spoke on the role of BVI Customs in facilitating fair and legitimate trade in the Territory.
Commissioner Smith relayed to the audience that in an effort to enhance guest experience and safeguard the yachting and tourism industries BVI Customs has heightened vigilance and is requiring guests and visitors to the Virgin Islands who are traversing the Territorial waters to present themselves along with their Government issued travel documents and their belongings when entering the different ports of entry.
He added that the Customs Department is working diligently to create a culture of compliance amongst all its industry stakeholders and agents and operators who are deemed to be in good standing with the department may enjoy some of the previous procedure privileges.
A short Q&A session concluded the event and audience members left with a greater understanding of the future of the BVI’s commercial yachting industry.