Expert advice to help you unravel the new regulations
Yachting Monthly experts help you unravel what the new regulations mean for sailors
QDo I need to arrive at a port of entry if sailing from the UK to France?
When I sail from the UK to France for the weekend do I have to go to a port of entry or can I go to a small harbour? Steve Sarabande
A Robin Baron responds: At the moment the answer is that you need to arrive at a port of entry which, in France, are broadly the ferry ports. Most Schengen countries have yet to define their ports of entry and entry procedures for UK arrivals. There are some indications that in France, harbour masters may be able to report arrivals by telephone. The Cruising Association is monitoring the situation and encouraging this simplified approach through our local representatives.
Q As an EU citizen, can I buy and keep a boat in the UK?
I am planning to re-visit western Scotland, and am looking for a new boat. Would it be legal for me, as a Dutchman, to buy and keep a boat in the UK? Willem Zijp
A Stuart Carruthers responds: I assume Mr Zijp is resident in the Netherlands and will visit the boat when he can.
The honest answer is that we do not know, but on the basis that people can own houses in the UK and not live here and that UK law is based on the principle that nothing is prohibited unless the law says it is, I can find nothing in our legislation that would indicate this is not possible provided the advice in the government guidance
Owning a Boat is followed, as we all have to. I would also suggest a quick read of Customs Notice 8: sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK, which provides some general useful information but in terms of non-uk citizens and residents it’s slanted towards temporary admission.
Mr Zijp should understand that if the boat is bought new in the UK and VAT is paid in the UK it will be UK domestic goods and he will be liable for VAT if the boat is taken to the EU; as a Dutch citizen he will not be able to use EU Temporary Admission procedures to escape paying VAT.
I assume Mr Zijp wishes to keep the boat on the Dutch register. If he wants to keep it on the UK register he will need to check the eligibility requirements but this might not be straightforward unless he is established in the UK. As a Dutch citizen not resident in the UK, he will be able to visit the UK on a standard UK visitor visa, details at www.gov. uk/standard-visitor-visa. In short, a Dutch citizen can stay in the UK as a tourist for up to six months without a visa, provided that they hold a valid passport or travel document, which must be valid for the whole of the stay in the UK.
Your reader may also be asked to prove that: he is visiting for tourism; he is able to support himself and any dependants during trip; he has organised accommodation; he can pay for the return or onward journey; he will leave the UK at the end of the visit.
Q Do days at sea count towards the 90-day limit?
One of the new problems for long-term UK cruisers is only being permitted to stay within the EU’S Schengen Zone for a maximum total of 90 days in any 180-day rolling period. But what about days spent at sea? Could you check out of Greece and sail for a week before returning and not have those seven days count towards your limit? Trevor Rackley A Apart from the Robin Baron responds: days of departure and arrival, days spent outside Greek territorial waters do not count as days in Schengen. Trevor would need to ensure his passport was stamped appropriately to have evidence of his situation.
Q How do you let Border Force know your journey is delayed?
All boats leaving and arriving in the UK now need to fill out the C1331 form. On Part 1/ii it requests your dates of departure and arrival back in the UK. What do you do if you are delayed by bad weather at either end of the trip? There is no explanation on the form and it seems you have to post both parts of this form to Border Force’s Dover office. No email system seems to be available. Alan Douglas
A ‘When departing the UK, A spokesperson for the Home Office replied: the C1331 form should be completed and mailed to the address on the form. If the departure is delayed by more than 24 hours, a new form should be submitted with a revised departure date and time. Part 2 of the original form should be self-endorsed “voyage abandoned” and included with the new Part 1. Border Force and HMRC understand that the date and time of return stated on Part 1 of the form can change.
The C1331 form should be completed prior to arrival in a UK port. The Q flag should be flown on entering UK territorial waters and the form should be available for inspection by a Border Force officer on arrival. There is no option to email the C1331.’ Further details at: yachtingmonthly.com/sailinguk
Q As an EU sailor, what do I need to do if cruising to the UK?
Brexit is also affecting EU sailors wishing to cruise in the UK. Some clarification of our position would be appreciated. Will we have to clear in or out? How will this work in practice? Will there be designated ports of entry and exit? Will we need to get our passports stamped? I remember reading somewhere that there will be a dedicated app. Is this true? When will the app be available? Wim Vandenbossche
A A spokesperson for the Home Office responded: ‘All pleasure craft arriving from outside of the UK including the Channel Islands are required to telephone the National Yachtline (0300 123 2012) to report their arrival for customs purposes. Any non-uk or Irish national (including all EU nationals unless they have certain protected rights under the transition agreement) who require immigration permission to enter the UK must also contact Border Force to obtain that. Contact details for Border Force offices have been circulated to all ports and marinas. There are no plans to introduce designated ports of entry/exit for pleasure craft.
‘Most EU nationals will be granted permission to enter via email or over the telephone. In some circumstances Border Force officers may visit the vessel and conduct an examination of arriving foreign nationals which may include endorsing passports.
‘A digital solution (app) to enable online reporting is in development.’
Q What are the VAT implications of keeping my boat in the UK and France?
We want to buy a secondhand boat that is currently registered and located in France, and owned by a EU national. If we bring it into the UK and register it here, we will have to pay VAT on the import, even though it is already VAT paid in the EU. Ideally we would like to keep the boat in the UK throughout the sailing season, returning to France for servicing and for winter storage. If we were to keep it registered in France, returning from the UK to France for servicing, would that mean it would not be liable for UK VAT? If so, how long would we be able to keep it in the UK before it became UK VAT liable? How long would French customs allow the boat to be kept out of the EU before it became liable for EU VAT? Tasha Green
A Robin Baron responds: Tasha’s plan to toggle between France and the UK does not work well from a VAT perspective for this particular vessel. Assuming that VAT was paid upon first sale by the manufacturer within an EU country then the boat is VAT paid in the EU but not the UK. If Tasha is resident in the UK then UK VAT arises as soon as the boat enters the UK. It would be calculated on the current value of the boat at the date of import. Temporary admission into the UK is not available for UK residents. There are no exceptions for servicing and maintenance unless the boatyard has a separate customs secure area; in the UK very few do.
In relation to France or other EU countries you should be able to claim Returned Goods Relief (RGR) upon the boat’s return to the EU subject to meeting the following conditions: (a) during its period of export, the vessel must not have had more than “running repairs” to it that do not increase its value; (b) the goods must be returned to the EU within three years or, if outside the three-year period, there are “special circumstances” to justify the waiver of the three-year rule; and (c) the person importing the goods is the person who originally exported them.
Q What provisions can I legally take from the UK into the EU?
Following the recent news about lorry drivers having their sandwiches confiscated, a pertinent question arises. Covid-permitting, many sailors are hoping to cross the Channel this coming summer. Like any sensible sailor, we like to be well prepared for a trip and fully stocked with suitable provisions for both the crossing and for regular staples. It seems that this is going to be a significant problem as many items are currently restricted. These hindrances might prove a complete barrier to planning such trips. What, if any, information do you have that would either mitigate or remove these barriers? Edward Vivian
A Stuart Carruthers responds: It is becoming clear what the impact of ‘taking back control’ actually means for recreational boaters, many of whom have known nothing else than the freedoms that life in the EU afforded them. Nothing illustrated this more clearly than the seizure of ham sandwiches from lorry drivers arriving from the UK by Dutch officials at the Hook of Holland. Although this is mildly amusing, there is no rule that singles out ham sandwiches per se, but the fact is that as the UK is now regarded by the EU as a third country, personal imports into the EU of UK meat, milk and products containing them has been banned since the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. It would appear that food being sold to passengers on ferries will not be exempted from this if taken ashore for personal consumption.
The European Commission has provided information on the legal situation applicable to travel between the EU and the UK after the end of the transition period. This states that Union law prohibits the introduction into the EU of certain products of animal origin where they form part of travellers’ luggage – these prohibitions apply in relation to travel from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland. This would suggest that provided food is not actually landed in the EU, it will not form part of a traveller’s luggage and it will be fine to have food produced in GB on board. It is also likely that checks will only be undertaken at the border, if at all.
Q Do UK overseas territories count for VAT purposes?
UK Vat-paid boats can re-confirm their Vat-paid status by returning to the UK by the end of December 2021. Does Gibraltar or other UK overseas territories count for VAT purposes or do boats have to be taken back to the UK?
A A spokesperson from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said: Those wishing to make use of the UK’S Returned Goods Relief will need to return goods exported or transported from the UK within three years of leaving the UK, or by the end of 2021 if the goods are returning to Great Britain.
The relief also applies to goods returning to the Isle of Man but not to Crown Dependencies or Overseas Territories that operate outside of the UK’S VAT territory, such as Gibraltar.