Brexit: UK nautical qualifications to be recognised in Spain by the summer

Britons with UK nautical qualifications will be able to sail Spanish boats this summer, Spain’s association of nautical companies has announced, a positive sign of agreements between Spain and Britain post-Brexit. 

Brexit: UK nautical qualifications to be recognised in Spain by the summer
The beautiful port town of Soller on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Photo: Frank Nürnberger/Pixabay

One of the many consequences of the UK officially leaving the EU on December 31st 2021 was that British skippers would no longer be able to captain Spanish yachts, or other maritime vessels in the EU, if their nautical qualifications were obtained in the United Kingdom.

Spain’s association of nautical companies (ANEN) released a document in early January in which it explained how it was negotiating with Spanish authorities to minimise the consequences of Brexit on recreational boating for Britons in Spain. 

The guide indicated with current Spanish regulations, British citizens could continue to skipper boats registered in the UK  but wouldn’t have the recognition of their nautical qualifications to skipper recreational boats under the Spanish flag.

The announcement by ANEN and the DGMM (Spain’s General Directorate for Merchant Marine) means this will no longer be the case, and that UK-qualified skippers will be allowed to rent and sail Spanish vessels.  

The acceptance of Britons’ nautical qualifications in Spanish waters is to be published in an upcoming royal decree, according to both groups.

It remains to be seen whether recreational vessels travelling between Spain and the United Kingdom will continue to be considered an intra-community trip or if it will be subject to customs or other tax implications to factor in.  

According to Spanish tourism website Hosteltur, the typical profile of foreigner who rents a boat to sail in Spanish shores is male – 45 to 55 – mainly from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, and tends to prefer sailing around the Balearics or the Costa Brava. 

The port of Puerto Banús in Marbella, Malaga province. Photo: M. Pilar Fernández/Pixabay

By boat type, speedboats are their favourite boat (53 percent), followed by sailboats (31 percent), catamarans (10 percent) and rigid inflatable boat (6 percent), also known as ribs.

According to tourism industry experts, interest in sailing and other nautical holidays is expected to grow as it offers visitors and opportunity to socially distance while still enjoying one’s holidays at sea. 

ANEN estimates that nautical tourism brought €3 billion in tourism revenues to Spain in 2016 and provided work to 19,700 people.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.


Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account