Yacht Deliveries Increase as Brexit VAT Date Looms

02 Dec Yacht Deliveries Increase as Brexit VAT Date Looms

EU and UK Flag merged with yacht on delivery in the background
We are experiencing a somewhat unseasonal increase in yacht delivery bookings. Owners are looking to move their yachts in and out of the UK as December 31st edges ever nearer. Brexit will impact the VAT status of yachts as the UK transitions out of the EU. Many owners now want to pre-place their vessels to minimise their VAT liability as a result of the no-deal transition.

  In an ideal world, any yachts that currently qualify for free movement with the UK part of the EU will be grand-fathered in once the transition period ends on 31st December 2020. With a no-deal now looking to be the most likely outcome, this looks highly unlikely.

  The main impacts perceived rely heavily on where the yacht is located at the end of this year.

EU and UK Flag merged with yacht on delivery in the background


UK yachts in the EU

For UK yachts outside of the UK and in the EU with VAT-paid status; it is generally understood that these yachts will maintain their EU VAT-paid status should they be in the EU and able to prove that on the crossover date.

British Ensign on a yacht in Palma

UK yachts in the UK

For UK yachts remaining in the UK with VAT paid status; they will retain their UK VAT paid status in the UK but will not be able to circulate freely in the EU without either being imported or gaining temporary admission (TA) to the EU in the future.

UK yachts outside of the UK + 3 years

For UK yachts having UK VAT paid status but not been in the UK for the last 3 years; they may stand to lose their UK VAT paid status. If these yachts then return to the UK after the transition date then they may stand to pay VAT again. The HMRC has reportedly said that there is an additional 12-month period (up to 31st December 2021) for these yachts to return to the UK to avoid the second VAT payment, however an official position has not been made.

English Harbour as seen from Shirley Heights. Lots of yachts in a tropical bay.

Similar respective rules stand for EU yachts both in and out of the UK when the transition period ends.

Ports such as Cherbourg have made arrangements for an influx of a British flotilla coming over to spend the transition dates certified in the EU, with formal certification being made available.

Many other coastal French ports are also expecting a much higher number of visitors over the New Year Period.

Yacht delivery packages available now

Halcyon Yachts are available to offer packages to deliver your yacht to the relevant port and gain official documentation as required. With no official position likely to be given before we reach the end of this month, we encourage owners to read into the situation affecting themselves as best you can and make arrangements accordingly.

For further information please see the following sources:

RYA: RYA Brexit – What Happens Next

Cruising Association: Brexit Briefing VAT

Financial Times (Subscription required): VAT After Brexit

To discuss the movement of your yacht and available packages please contact us below:

Phil Wood – Sales Manager – +44 (0) 7585 667686

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  • Keith Gabriel
    Posted at 10:18h, 03 December Reply

    Change of ownership while yacht has been in EU27 waters:
    I am sure that many readers will find this summary very helpful. I would like to clarify one additional factor which has not been well publicised by either the RYA or the Cruising Association. If there has been a change of ownership while the yacht was out of UK waters (whether in EU27 waters or elsewhere) then the possible one year extension for return of yachts to UK waters after the end of the Brexit transition period, certainly will NOT apply . The reason for this is that for ‘Returned Goods Relief’ to apply the same person must have taken the boat out of UK waters and then returned her again to the UK (without significant modification). Thus, as I understand it, after 1st January 2021 a UK registered EU28 VAT-paid yacht returning to the UK following a change of ownership while out of UK waters would be subject to VAT payment for a second time even if the one year extension is granted! A crazy situation which I assume has arisen because of the EU’s equivalence agenda.

    That is why, having bought my Southerly 38 in Greece in late October 2020, I commissioned Halcyon to deliver her back to the UK, and she arrived back in UK waters before the end of November. An excellent service by the crew and the whole Halcyon team!

  • Paul Smith
    Posted at 19:55h, 06 December Reply

    I completely agree with that assessment, Keith, which is why I have just had Halcyon deliver my Sirius 40DS from Palma to Plymouth. The photo towards the top of this page is taken from her as she departed Palma! The situation is iniquitous but, thanks to Halcyon, I won’t be faced with a large VAT bill.

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