Trafalgar Sailing Blog

How will Brexit affect me sailing in Europe?

  • You could end up having to pay the VAT on your yacht twice!

If your British flagged yacht was not in the UK on the 31st December 2020 when UK left the EU, unless you bring it back before June 2022, you will have to pay VAT on its return to the UK.  So, despite the VAT already having been paid when you bought the yacht, you will have to pay VAT again. You can apply for RGR (Return Goods Relief) as long as you were the owner when it left the UK. But if you bought your boat in Europe you will not benefit for RGR. The only way around this at the moment is to sail your boat back to the UK before June 2022. Or hope the law may change before then and now.

Sailing in Europe
  • How long can I go cruising for without the hassle of applying for visas?

You could just leave the yacht in Europe but then if you are British resident you will only be able to sail her for max 90 days in a rolling  180 day period. After that you will need to apply for a visa for each country you visit. Gone are the days when you had the freedom to cruise around without time pressures. Furthermore you cannot simply set sail from the white cliffs of Dover and head south till the butter melts and upon arrival simply tie up and head for the pub. Now you will have to report to a designated point of entry and get an EU entry stamp in your passport. If you don’t you may have problems when leaving the EU to return to UK. Don’t forget to get that exit stamp as well, so that the Visa free days clock stops.

  • No more free emergency health care in Europe.

While sailing in Europe make sure you have a good comprehensive health insurance. Most of the travel insurances will only  include sailing up to 15 miles from the coast, so check the small print. Before Brexit you would have been entitled to free emergency health care in Europe with your E1 or EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). However this is all changing, so don’t hurt yourself or get sick overseas in Europe as you could find yourself with a massive bill to pay when you hop out of hospital. Also look out for roaming charges by your telephone network provider. Some navigation and weather apps use a lot of data and there is no guarantee that your network provider includes free roaming in Europe.

Mooring in Spain
  • More forms to fill out when you come home to old England…

When returning to the U.K. there will be yet more officialdom. At the UK border, you will have to check in and out of UK waters, irrespective of where you’re arriving from. Form C1331 will have to be completed if you leave or enter UK. When coming into U.K. waters (12 mile limit) you must now fly the Q flag. This shows you are free from plague and disease and are willing to comply with your flag state regulations.  So be well behaved and just fly the little yellow flag and everyone will be happy. The officials can jump onboard and inspect the yacht. Like all bureaucracy, it pays to be polite. On arrival to the U.K. call the 24 hour National Yachtline +44 0300123 2012. You cannot leave the yacht until this is done and you have clearance. Only then can you go to the pub and have a well-earned pint.

Of course by the time you read this blog the regulations may have changed! So keep updated and be prepared, as U.K. is a now third country. Don’t blame me, I voted remain.

If you want to return your yacht to the U.K. before June 2022 and you don’t have time to sail her yourself or would like a Yachtmaster Skipper to sail with you. Read next week’s Blog about yacht delivery.




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