Pleasure Yachts and Recreational Boats

18 April 2016

Pleasure yachts and recreational boats are pleasure vessels used for personal, family, and sometimes sportsmanlike recreation. Such watercraft are divided into two main categories: motorboats (or motor yachts) and sailboats. They are used for holidays, for example at sea in an archipelago or coastal area, on a river, lake, canal or waterway. Pleasure craft are normally kept at a marina or a dry-dock facility. They may include accommodation for use while at anchor or moored to the port. Pleasure yachts are also commonly called “Private Yachts” .

Pleasure yachts and recreational boats comprise motorboats, sailboats, luxury yachts, superyachts and mega-yachts. They are solely designed for sport or leisure purposes and carry not more than 12 persons. Other smaller pleasure craft will also be briefly described at the end of this article.

Luxury yachts (over 24 metres), superyachts (over 30 metres) and mega-yachts (over 50 metres), are very expensive large yachts, privately owned, professionally crewed sailing or motor yachts.

Opposed to Commercial Vessels (also called Coded Vessels), pleasure yachts and recreational boats in Europe, are vessels used for sport or recreational purposes and do not operate for financial gain. These Private Boats and Yachts in Europe cannot be used for charter unless they comply with all of the following (some restrictions may apply):

  • They are VAT paid (tax paid) and sailing under a recognized European Flag*,
  • They are classified as CE Compliant,
  • They benefit from an insurance policy covering charter guests,
  • Their Owners declare all charter revenue,
  • Their Owners remit VAT (pay taxes), on every charter they carry-out, through a registered and valid intracomunitary VAT number,
  • The cumulative charter period is limited to 3 months per year and alternating with private use of the boat,
  • Their safety and security equipment is compliant and they can attest of a valid revision,
  • All charters on the boat carry a valid Charter Agreement, and proof of payment, inclusive of VAT applicable in the country of embarkation, which they can show to European Customs or any other Maritime Authority in case of control,
  • They never carry more passengers on-board than the maximum indicated in the Builder’s Certificate,
  • If they are crewed, all crew members must be under a valid labour contract, insured and their professional qualifications must by compliant to the type of vessel and flagstate, including updated diplomas to provide emergency and medical care to save life on ships at sea,
  • If they are used as bareboat rentals, then the driver piloting the boat must also carry the appropriate diplomas and insurance.

*Through Allied Yachting Management program, Temporary Admission for Charter purposes can be arranged in France for pleasure yachts and recreational boats carrying a non-European Flag and not VAT paid.

Note: Pleasure yachts and recreational boats generally do not qualify for tax-free or tax-reduction on fuel, bunkering or consumables.


In the category of motorboats, pleasure yachts and recreational boats are typically 40 feet (12 metres) or longer with combustion single or twin engines, motor yachts are ideal for sea cruising or navigating along the Mediterranean coastline. Equipped with sleeping berths, a galley, electrical generator, air conditioning and plumbing, they have the capacity to stay on the water for days. Motor yachts are ideal for entertaining yachting enthusiasts in Europe. Some larger luxury yachts, superyachts and mega-yachts also have sufficient range and capabilities to sail from continent to continent. We invite you to read our 2 detailed articles in Allied Yachting FAQ section on Types of Motor Yachts by Size, Types of Motor Yachts by Shape or Deck Configuration and Motor Yachts by Type of Hull or Displacement.

While motorboats feature ample deck space and swim platforms, with a helm in the cabin and on the fly bridge offering piloting options for sunny and rainy days, motor yachts tend to lean toward more comfort with large indoor salons, sleeping berths and other amenities to enhance your enjoyment on a long cruise.

Some categories of motorboats are:

  • Day cruiser or day-boat (no cabin, sparse amenities)
  • Weekender boat (one or two basic cabins, basic galley appliances and plumbing)
  • Cruising yacht (sufficient amenities to allow for living aboard for extended periods)
  • Sport fishing yacht (yacht with living amenities and sporting fishing equipment)
  • Luxury yacht (larger yachts, with more luxurious finishings/amenities)

Other types of motorboats are:
Fishing boats, bay or flat-bottom boats, bow riders, cabin cruisers, centre consoles, cuddy cabins, deck boats, high performance boats, jet boats, houseboats, inboard ski boats, trawlers, walkarounds, multi-hull powerboats and pontoon boats.


Sailboats differ from other types of boats in that they are propelled partly or entirely by wind; they use sails to transform the power of the wind into power that moves the boat through the water. The term sailboat covers a wide variety of sailing craft, each with its own characteristics and styles. In general, sailboats are distinguished by size, hull configuration, keel type, number of sails, use and purpose. Please refer to the articles on our FAQ section for more details on Types of Sailing Yachts by Age and Types of Sailboats by Type of Rig.


Most pleasure yachts and recreational boats are equipped with other recreational watercraft commonly called “Tenders and Toys” . You can find in this category rowboats, canoes, kayaks, surf boards, wind-surfs, kite-surfs, paddle-boards, water bikes (or water scooters) like Jet-skis or wave-runners, chase-boats, dinghies, tenders (inflatable, rigid and semi-rigid), seabobs etc…