Show me the money: A guide to yacht crew finances
Last updated: 22/01/2020
Working on a superyacht can be hugely advantageous in terms of finance, and while people choose to work on superyachts for any number of different reasons, one key theme across the industry is that crew can earn a great income - often tax free!
Yachting Pages provides an overview of marine finance for crew, covering the financial benefits of working as superyacht crew, including insight into the best services for saving money, and the potential challenges of pay in the marine industry.
How much are yacht crew paid?
Depending on your job and level of seniority on board, your salary as superyacht crew will vary. Regardless of the role, crew salaries depend on multiple factors including:
- Crew training and qualifications
- Past work experience
- The type, cruising route and location of the vessel
- Annual paid leave and end-of-season bonuses
- Incentives for service and performance
- Guest and charter tips
The vessel will often provide work-related transport for crew (including transport to and from the yacht), food and drink, uniforms and other essential living expenses. Some level of health or medical insurance cover may also be provided by the yacht, meaning there is more money leftover for living and expenses. Private yachts tend to offer a higher base salary due to there being no additional income in the form of tips from charter guests.
The below infographic provides a guide of how much you could earn per month (in euros) working on a superyacht. Please note that the image is only a guideline, and salaries can vary depending on your position, currency and the yacht’s size.
Laurence Lewis of YPI CREW explained, “Over the years we have been collating salary data, publishing a yearly salary review. We have always felt frustrated with the yearly salary review we used to produce, as the salary ranges presented were so broad that in reality they were of little use. As such we wanted to take the traditional paper-based salary to a whole new level and this is how Yachtingsalaries.com came about!”
FAQs about crew finance answered
What costs are covered for yacht crew living aboard a superyacht?
Yacht crew have little to no living expenses, paying no bills, rent or medical expenses. Add to this the fact that toiletries and meals are readily-supplied aboard, and this puts superyacht crew in a pretty strong position financially.
Whatever your reason for working on board a superyacht, the chances are you will be saving a substantial amount of money with your daily living costs being covered, and the potential to earn a very healthy monthly salary.
Will I need an offshore bank account?
Working offshore means there are many options for investment plans. However, advice can often be misguided, with many companies out there to get as much of your money as possible. It’s important to research and use recommended financial advisers who have a track record of assisting crew and other industry professionals through the investment process.
By working in agreement with an independent financial adviser who has experience with yacht crew finances you will be able to work out a savings plan based on your income, personal situation and eventual aims.
Do I need insurance?
The yacht should provide its crew with health insurance and accident cover.
What about tax?
Unless stated otherwise, all crew are responsible for handling their personal income tax and social security. Each should therefore investigate tax rules and regulations and seek official advice, remaining up-to-date with the national requirements.
One important factor to consider is residency. Leaving your home country to work and becoming a non-resident should enable you to legally avoid taxes. However, becoming a non-resident is not always easy: To become a non-resident you will have to cut all ties with your home country, including things like mobile phones and properties. Professional tax advisers are often able to help with these more complicated matters.
One tax challenge that crew need to be aware of, and which authorities are increasingly clamping down on, is gross pay. Gross pay is the amount paid before taxes and other deductions, and with a crackdown on crew being offered gross pay by owners and operators, there is an increasing pressure on employees to identify and address any potential liabilities.
One example of this need to show proof is in EU-member states, as Neil Carrington, CEO of payroll specialist Voyonic explained, “We have noticed increasing interest from EU states to seek either proof of a contribution elsewhere or seek a contribution into the local system. It can only be a matter of time before severe penalties are imposed.
“Even though commonly crew will not have to pay tax because of the nature of their work, it will need to be shown that this has at least been addressed.”
How much should I be saving while on board?
Working offshore means there are many options for saving, and investment plans for life after yachting. It’s important to research and use recommended independent financial advisers (IFAs) who have a track record of assisting crew and other industry professionals through the investment process. By working in agreement with an IFA who has experience with yacht crew finances you will be able to work out a savings plan based on your income, personal situation and eventual aims.
Do I need to enter a social security system?
If you haven’t already got an active investment plan, it’s important that you enter into a recognised social security system, not just for the present, but for your future beyond yachting. The MLC requires all member states in the EU to put social security benefits for seafarers in place, however, if you don’t enter into a system, you’re unlikely to receive any of these benefits.
Neil said, “We have seen cases where ex-seafarers who, for whatever reason, have not made contributions to any system and find themselves depending upon charitable aid to survive into their old age because they cannot show to any relevant authority that they have made any contributions to a recognised system.
“When young and invincible, it is easy to ignore the future and even as we get older it is easy to underestimate how much money is required to fund retirement especially when you’re used to a certain standard of living.
“I am often told that “I put this much away each month”, but how much is enough when we are all living longer? Also a marriage or relationship may end and the savings may diminish as a result, who knows? At least if you’ve entered into social security, there will be a fall-back position provided by the state.”
What is Power of Attorney?
Issues with banks and banking are all too common for superyacht crew, who can often get charged and suffer from high exchange rates or debit card problems. An offshore bank account should therefore be one of the first things that crew look into when taking on a superyacht job.
With an offshore account you won’t be tied to one currency, and you will be able to bank in multiple currencies, which will be especially useful if you are paid in one currency and use various other currencies as you travel to different ports.