The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes approved, at its meeting that took place in Barbados on 30th of October 2015, Cyprus’ supplementary report on the additional changes of its legal framework and practises and classified Cyprus as ‘Largely Compliant’.
This was the result of Cyprus Tax Authorities working closely with the accounting and legal professionals to amend the spotted gaps of the system and gain confidence back at an international level as far as the exchange of information on tax matters is concerned. Cyprus was previously evaluated in 2013 by the Global Forum for its interpretation of the standard in practise and rated as ‘Non-Compliant’.
Cyprus’ reputation has been restored and it is in this way re-ensured that it is still a reputable financial centre. The island’s infrastructure, dynamic legal framework, coherent tax system and high standard of professional services that can be provided create the perfect business atmosphere and make Cyprus in compliance with all international business standards.
Further to the 2010 Manila Amendments of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, (STCW 78 Convention), the Ship Registry has issued on the 14th October 2015 a Circular which provides for the Revalidation of Cyprus Certificates of Competency (CCoC). The Convention will be in force after the 31st December 2016.
Following the relevant enforcement date, the masters and deck officers, holders of CCoC, who wish to revalidate their Certificates of Competency (CoC) must: have training in Ship Simulator, Bridge Teamwork (BRM) and in ECDIS and present the relevant certificates issued by the Republic of Cyprus. In addition, they must undergo refreshing courses or full courses training, accordingly, at training centers approved by the Republic and present the appropriate certificates (DMS Circ. 09/2015).
Similarly, Engine officers, holders of CCoC, in order to revalidate their CoC must: have training in Engine Room Simulator (ERS) and in High Voltage and present the relevant certificates issued by the Republic of Cyprus and must undergo refreshing courses or full courses training, accordingly, at training centers approved by the Republic of Cyprus and present the appropriate certificates of proficiency issued by the Republic of Cyprus.
All the certificates that are issued by the Administration of a Country whose certificates of competency are recognized by the Republic of Cyprus will be accepted in lieu of the aforementioned certificates.
The aforesaid trainings are ONLY required for the revalidation of CCoC after 31 December 2016. Masters and officers presenting the above mentioned certificates may apply for a renewal of the CCoC for a period not exceeding five years from the date of the previous revalidation without the need for any additional requirement for exams and sea service.
The EU Regulation No. 1257/2013 on ship recycling was issued on the 20th November 2013 and even though the Regulation is already in force, it will only be applicable in Cyprus not later than the 31 December 2016 when the European List of Ship Recycling Facilities (European List) is published. Nonetheless, by virtue of Article 32, the Regulation will be applicable:
- from the earlier of 6 months after the date that the combined maximum annual ship recycling output of the ship recycling facilities included in the European List constitutes not less than 2,5 million light displacement tonnes (LDT); or
- on 31 December 2018, but not earlier than the 31 December 2016.
Moreover, Articles 2, 5(2), 13, 14, 15, 16, 25 and 26 are applicable from the 31 December 2014 whereas Article 5(2)(1) and (3) and Article 12(1) and (8) will be applicable from 31 December 2020.
The Regulation is applicable to European Member States flagged vessels of 500 gross tonnage and more, engaged in international voyages, and specific provisions of the Regulations are applicable for non-EU flagged vessels, calling at a port or anchorage of a Member State.
The Regulation provides for the prohibition and restriction of both the installation or use of Hazardous Materials (HM) on the ships as referred to in Annex I of the Regulation. The Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) will be ship specific, developed in accordance with the relevant IMO guideliness and will require the verification of compliance issued by a Recognised Organization (RO). The IHM will consist of 3 parts, namely: materials contained in ship structure or equipment; list of operationally generated wastes; and stores. The first part has to be properly maintained and updated throughout the operational life of the ship while the last two parts have to be incorporated in the IHM prior to recycling.
With regard to new ships the IHM has to be on board before entering into service after the the date of effective application, the latter expected to be anytime between the 1 July 2016 and 31 December 2018. The IHM in this instance shall at least contain the identity, location and approximate quantities of the hazardous materials of the structure or equipment of the ship referred to in Annex II.
With regard to existing ships they must, as far as possible, have both an IHM onboard from 31 December 2020, identifying at least the hazardous materials under Annex I, and a plan describing the visual or sampling check by which the IHM is developed.
With regard to ships destined for recycling, an IHM is required from the date of the publication of the European List.
With regard to non-EU flagged vessels, when calling at a port or anchorage of a Member State, an IHM is required on board from the 31 December 2020. The IHM shall be ship specific and prepared in accordance with the relevant IMO guidelines and serve to clarify compliance of the ship with Article 12(2). The IHM shall be also supplemented by a Statement of Compliance.
All foreign flag ships calling at Cyprus ports and anchorages will be subject to Port State Control inspections aiming to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Regulation. Any ships that fail to comply with the Regulation may be warned, detained, dismissed or excluded from the ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus.
With regard to Cyprus flagged ships, special surveys have to be carried out by ROs authorized by the Republic of Cyprus, in consideration of the relevant IMO guidelines and resolutions. The surveys are: an initial survey before the ship is put in service or the inventory certificate is issued (regarding existing ships, an initial survey will be conducted on 31 December 2020); a renewal survey at intervals not exceeding five years; an additional (general or partial) survey conducted upon owner’s request following any modification or repair done affecting the IHM; and a final survey prior to the ship taken out of service and before the beginning of the recycling (regarding existing ships destined for ship recycling, the initial and final survey may be conducted concurrently).
An Inventory Certificate will be issued by the RO upon successful completion of the initial or renewal survey, supplemented by Part I of the inventory of hazardous materials. The Inventory Certificate shall be endorsed at the request of the ship owner by the RO following a successful additional survey. Where the initial and the final survey are conducted at the same time, only the ‘Ready for Recycling Certificate’ shall be issued. The Inventory Certificate will be valid for a maximum five (5) years period.
A Ready for Recycling Certificate is issued prior to recycling after the successful completion of a final survey. This Certificate has to be accompanied by the IHM and the Ship Recycling Plan which is prepared by the operator of the ship recycling facility. The Ready for Recycling Certificate will be valid for a maximum three (3) months period (which can be extended for a single point to point voyage to the ship recycling facility) and shall cease to be valid if the condition of the ship does not correspond substantially with the particulars of the Inventory Certificate.
With regard to owners of Cyprus flag ships, they shall ensure that the ships are only recycled at ship recycling facilities that are included in the European List.
 Ships whose building contract, keel laid or delivery is places on or after the date of effective application, the latter expected to be anytime between the 1 July 2016 and 31 December 2018
The “Maritime Cyprus 2015” Conference was held with great success from the 13th – 16th September in Limassol, Cyprus.
More than 800 distinguished participants, from across the globe, attended the Conference, establishing it as one of the most well respected and popular shipping conferences worldwide.
The topics of the discussions were most interesting focusing on “Politics & Economics”, “The New Shipping Environment”, “The New World Order” and “Challenging the Leadership Process”, the latter being addressed to the younger executives attending the meeting.
Cyprus Ministry of finance announced few days ago that on the 2nd of July 2015 negotiations took place, concluding a Protocol that will amend the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. According to the announcement, the agreed protocol when signed will come into effect not earlier than the 1st January 2019, date at which the existing Convention will expire. The existing Convention has been signed on the 8th of November 2012 and entered into force on the 1st of January 2014.
During the negotiations a most favorable nation clause has been agreed, for the taxes on interest, dividends, royalties and capital gains. This clause is considered of high importance as Cyprus will be treated equitably with other jurisdictions.
As noted, the text has been agreed between the two negotiating teams of the Contracting States and will contribute to the further development of the trade and economic links between Cyprus and the Government of Ukraine, as well as with other countries.
The announcement concludes by stating that, “Upgrading and expanding the network of Double Tax Conventions, is of high economic and political importance and aims to further strengthen and attract foreign investment in Cyprus as its standing an international business center is elevated”.
* A detailed analysis of the Protocol will be released in a forthcoming newsletter.
Cyprus Ministry of Finance announced that a meeting took place on the 11th of September, between the Permanent Secretary of Cyprus Ministry of Finance and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Mr. Bui Thanh Son, the Head of Delegation team of Vietnam visited Cyprus for Advancing Economic Cooperation between the two countries.
Both parties agreed that a potential conclusion of a Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation would be prosperous for both countries.
Negotiations between the two counties are expected to take place within 2015 and it is to contribute to further development of the commercial and financial relations between
Cyprus and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and other countries. Expansion and upgrading the network of Double Taxation Agreements, is of high economic and political importance and aims to further strengthen and attract foreign investment and elevates the importance of Cyprus as an international business center.
Further to the adoption by the Greek Parliament of Law 4336 of 2015 under the title Pension Provisions- Ratification of the Draft Agreement for Financial Assistance by the European Stability Mechanism and provisions for the implementation of the Financing Agreement on 14th August 2015, the withholding tax on corporate expenses paid from Greek corporate entities to, among others, tax residents of three member- states of the European Union, namely Cyprus, Bulgaria and Ireland, has been abolished.
THE PRE-EXISTING REGIME REGARDING 26% WITHHOLDING TAX ON EXPENSES IN TRANSACTIONS OF GREEK CORPORATE ENTITIES WITH CERTAIN PERSONS
On March 2015 the Greek Parliament, introduced amendments to the Greek Income Tax Code – Law 4172 of 2013 – (“the Law”), including an amendment to article 23 of the said Law regarding nondeductible business expenses.
Pursuant to the aforementioned amendment, the total expenses paid to a natural person or legal person or entity falling within one of the following categories, were not deductible:
a) Persons which at the time of issuance of the invoice or at the date of the transaction were tax residents in a non- cooperating country (as per article 65 of the Law)
b) Person which at the time of issuance of the invoice or at the date of the transaction were tax resident in a country with a preferential tax regime (as per article 65 of the Law)
c) Persons which were in fact associated companies, and had not complied, before the issuance of the invoice or the performance of the transaction with the obligations set by the Tax Procedures Code (regarding transfer pricing documentation rules)
d) Person s which did not have at the place of their registered office or at an affiliate business, the requisite organization and infrastructure in order to carry- out similar transactions as the one for which the invoice was issued, regularly and professionally.
The Republic of Cyprus has ratified the 2007 Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks by virtue of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (Ratification) and for Matters Connected Therewith Law of 2015 (Law 12(III)/2015), published in the Official Gazette of the Republic No.4207, dated 29.05.2015, Supplement I(III).
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks will enter into force for the Republic of Cyprus on 22 October 2015 in accordance with Article 18(2) of the Convention.
In accordance with the relevant provisions as from the 22nd of October 2015 any Cyprus flagged vessel of a gross tonnage of 300GT and above and any vessel irrespective of flag, of a gross tonnage of 300GT and above calling Cyprus ports or located within the territorial sea of the Republic of Cyprus, will have an obligation to carry a certificate attesting that insurance is in place in accordance with the provisions of Article 12 of the Convention. Vessels failing to produce such a certificate will be liable to criminal and administrative sanctions.
With regards to Cyprus flagged vessels, the Wreck Removal Certificate provided in Article 12(2) of the Convention, should be obtained, in time, from the Department of Merchant Shipping.
Certificates obtained already from an Administrator of another State which is party to the Convention, prior to the Convention ratification by the Republic of Cyprus, will be acceptable until their relevant expiry and need not be re-issued or replaced. However, on their expiry, they should be renewed by the Department of Merchant Shipping and should in the meantime a need arise for their re-issuance eg. due to a change of name, transfer of ownership etc. they should be issued by the Department of Merchant Shipping.
With regards to non Cyprus flagged vessels calling Cyprus ports or located within the territorial sea of the Republic, the Wreck Removal Certificate should be issued by their flag State administration, should their flag state be a party to the Convention or by any State party to the Convention should their State not be a party to the Convention. The Department of Merchant Shipping will issue such Certificates upon receipt of the relevant application and accompanying documents, provided that the flag which the vessel is flying is not in the Black List of the Paris MOU for the year preceding the date of the application.
The EU Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1148 of the 14th of July 2015 amended the EU Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran.
By virtue of the above decision, the following prohibitions have been suspended until the 14th January 2016:
- The prohibition of the transportation of Iranian crude oil;
- The prohibition of the provision of insurance and reinsurance relating to the import, purchase and transportation of Iranian crude oil;
- The prohibition of the import, purchase or transportation of Iranian petrochemical products;
- The prohibition of the provision of insurance and reinsurance relating to the import, purchase and transportation of Iranian petrochemical products;
- The prohibition of the transportation of gold and precious metals;
- The prohibition to supply vessels designed for the transport or storage of oil and petrochemical products to Iranian persons, entities or bodies;
- The prohibition to supply vessels designed for the transport or storage of oil and petrochemical products to any person, entity or body for the transport or storage of Iranian oil and petrochemical products;
- The freezing of funds as set out in Article (20) (1) (b) and (c ) and in Article 20 (2) of EU Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP, as amended relating only to the Ministry of Petroleum listed in Annex II of the said Decision, shall be suspended until the 14th January 2016, insofar as necessary for the execution , until 14 January 2016, of contracts for the import or purchase of Iranian petrochemical products.
EU Ship registries, including the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping and the Maltese Ship Registry have notified persons flying their flags, ship managers and operators , through Circulars and Notices issued by the relevant departments, with regards to the above, but have also cautioned them to abide with restrictive measures/ sanctions which are still in place and to always consult their insurance providers prior to engaging in any new activity.
We are pleased to announce the opening of our new fully operative affiliated office Christodoulos G. Vassiliades Law Firm in Athens, Greece, located at 34, Akadimias Street, 5th Foor, P.C. 106 72.
Our constant aim is to serve the interests of our current as well as new international clients worldwide therefore, we address their diverse professional needs in Greece with the same commitment to excellence and efficiency as we have done for over 30 years from our main office in Cyprus.