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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-8-sailing-your-pleasure-craft-to-and-from-the-uk/notice-8-sailing-your-pleasure-craft-to-and-from-the-uk
This notice is intended for us by owners of pleasure craft who sail their crafts to or from the UK and the customs arrival and departure requirements. The Channel Islands are treated as a place outside the UK for VAT purposes.
Private use means recreational (non-commercial) use; this can also include the use of a company owned vessel for private recreational purposes
This does not include movements:
- between Northern Ireland and the EU which continue to be treated as intra-community movements
- movements between Northern Ireland and Great Britain
If you carry any goods for industrial or commercial purposes, your vessel becomes a commercial vessel and is no longer a pleasure craft. Notice 69: Report and Clearance by Ships Masters explains the customs requirements for commercial vessels.
Arriving in the United Kingdom
Do I need to fly the yellow ‘Q’ flag?
If you are arriving from outside the UK (and this includes the Channel Islands) you must fly the ‘Q’ flag, where it can readily be seen, as soon as you enter UK waters (the 12 mile limit). Do not take down the flag until you have finished reporting to the customs authorities. Failure to comply will make you liable to a penalty. If you are arriving from an EU member state into Northern Ireland, there is no need to fly the ‘Q’ flag.
Do I need to notify the customs authorities on arrival?
When arriving direct from outside the UK you must phone the National Yachtline. You will need to inform the Yachtline if any of the following apply:
- UK VAT has not been paid on the vessel
- you have on board goods which are to be treated as surplus stores as per Notice 69A.
- you have any prohibited or restricted goods
- there is any notifiable illness on board
- there are any people on board who need immigration clearance
- any repairs or modifications, other than running repairs, have been carried out since the vessel last left the UK
- you have any goods for personal use on which you need to declare and pay UK tax or duty and cannot do so via the online service. Notice 1: Travelling to the UK
You will need to comply with any further instructions that you are given.
If arriving from outside the UK the National Yachtline will ask you to complete form C1331.
You should send the completed forms to:
United Kingdom Border Force
Freight Clearance Centre
Lord Warden Square
You must not land goods or persons or transfer them to another vessel until a customs official says you may do so.
What goods must I declare?
If you have come from outside the UK you must declare:
- any animals or birds
- any prohibited and restricted goods including certain foodstuffs
- any surplus stores please read Notice 69A: Duty free ships stores
- the pleasure craft itself, if it is liable to UK VAT (please read paragraph 4.1)
- any goods which, as a visitor, you intend to leave behind when you depart from the UK
- any tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks in excess of the allowances set out in Notice 1: UK Customs Information, and
- any other goods you have acquired outside the UK, where the total value of these goods exceeds £270, subject to conditions described in Notice 1: UK Customs Information. UK Customs Information.
This includes any equipment which you may have bought and had fitted to the boat outside the UK. If anyone on board fails to declare goods in any of these categories, that person may be liable to a fine and the goods may be seized.
Taxes and duties you may need to pay to import a vessel into the UK
Vessels less than 12 metres long may have to pay Customs Duty when imported from outside the UK.
You may be able to claim relief from Customs Duty and VAT if you’re temporarily importing a vessel into the UK.
If you’re permanently importing a vessel on transfer of your residence from outside the UK, you may qualify for Transfer of Residence relief. See Public Notice 5 for further information:
- was imported into the UK within 3 years of its export
- was imported by the person who exported it
- has undergone no more than running repairs outside the UK that did not increase its value
For more information about import reliefs on goods returned to the UK, see Notice 236: Returned Goods Relief 236.
If you need further information you can contact the Pleasure Craft Unit of Expertise. Sales of boats between Northern Ireland and the EU are covered in Notice 728 New Means of Transport.
When is an imported vessel able to get VAT or import duty relief
VAT is due on the importation of any vessel from outside the UK. However, there are provisions for this VAT to be relieved when a UK VAT paid vessel returns to the UK, please read paragraph 3.4. If a VAT paid vessel is exported, and whilst outside the UK it is sold, the new owner will, unless eligible for one of the reliefs described in this Notice, be liable to pay VAT if the vessel is brought back into the UK.
Are there any immigration requirements when I arrive in the UK?
For ships carrying 12 people or fewer, the owner or person responsible for the pleasure craft must ensure the family and given names, date of birth and nationality are provided for all passengers.
Anyone on board who is not a British or Irish citizen must obtain a Border Force officer’s permission to enter the UK from a place other than the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. The owner or person responsible for the pleasure craft must make sure that anyone requiring immigration clearance (including yourself if appropriate) obtains the necessary permission to enter.
If there is anyone on board requiring immigration clearance, they will need to contact the nearest Border Force office by telephone to arrange clearance. The National Yachtline will be able to advise on how to do this.
Contact the Pleasure Craft Unit of Expertise
You can also contact the team by Telephone: 03000 516 864 or by post at:
HM Revenue and Customs
Pleasure Craft Unit of Expertise
1 Northern Road
Sailing a pleasure craft within UK waters
Will I have to pay VAT on a vessel to be kept in the UK?
- you import a vessel you will have to pay VAT on the vessel’s value at the time of import; however in certain circumstances reliefs may be available.
- you are buying a new pleasure craft in the UK and intend to keep it in the UK, you will have to pay VAT on the purchase price
What documents will be required to provide proof of the UK VAT status on a used vessel?
UK residents should only use a vessel in the UK if they are in free circulation in the UK, as UK domestic goods. Included, as such, are pleasure craft with VAT paid or deemed VAT status valid at 31/12/20, located in Great Britain 31/12/20. Deemed VAT paid includes certain vessels that were in use as private pleasure craft prior to 1 January 1985 and were in the UK or EU on 31 December 1992
Documentary evidence supporting VAT status should be carried at all times as you may be asked by customs officials to provide evidence of your vessel’s UK VAT status. Documentary evidence might include:
- original invoice or receipt
- evidence that VAT was paid at importation
- invoices for materials used in the construction of a ‘Home-Built’ vessel
A registration document on its own does not prove the UK VAT status of the vessel, as there is no link in the UK between the registry of the vessel and the payment of VAT. If you have difficulty in providing the information, you should phone the Imports and exports: general enquiries helpline.
The following documents are useful to prove the age and location of the vessel:
|For Age||For Location|
|Marine survey||Receipt for mooring|
|Part 1 Registration||Receipt for harbour dues|
|Insurance documents||Dry dock records|
When buying a used pleasure craft from any VAT registered business in the UK, you should make sure that the invoice shows separately any VAT that the business has charged to you on the supply of the pleasure craft. If you are buying from a business that does not charge VAT on the transaction or from a private individual in the UK and the seller states that UK VAT has previously been paid on the vessel, you should obtain evidence from the seller that VAT has previously been accounted for .
Spares, accessories and equipment
These may include:
- normal spare parts and equipment carried with the vessel
- articles for use on board the vessel such as life boats , life saving devices and furniture including first aid and survival equipment
These do not need to be declared unless they are imported separately from the vessel.
Temporarily importing a vessel
Can I claim relief from customs duty and VAT?
Subject to certain conditions vessels that are temporarily imported for private use may be eligible for relief from duty and VAT. This relief is called Temporary Admission.
The vessel must be:
- registered outside the UK in the name of a person established outside the UK. If it is not registered it must belong to someone who has their normal place of residence outside the UK
- be used by a non-UK resident (there are limited exceptions where use can be made by a UK resident, these are explained in the table in paragraph 5.4)
The vessel must also be clearly identifiable, for example by registration number/ certificate, name of the vessel or hull identification number.
What is the period of relief for non UK residents?
Private use by a non-UK resident can be for up to 18 months. However, if the vessel has been rehired by a UK hire service to a non UK resident for private use, the vessel must be re-exported outside the UK within 8 days of the hire.
Private use by a non-UK resident can be for up to 18 months. However, if the vessel has been rehired by a UK hire service to a non-UK resident for private use, the vessel must be re-exported outside the UK within the earlier date of:
- 6 months from the date of entry of the means of transport
- the end of 3 weeks after the conclusion of the contract on the rehiring
For this purpose, the date of entry is the date of the conclusion of the hiring agreement under which the means of transport was used at the time of entry, unless the actual date of entry has been proven.
Private use by a UK resident
|If you are a UK resident private use can be made if you…||The vessel …|
has been temporarily imported by the registration holder, who is a non UK resident, for their own use
the non UK registration holder has instructed you may use it occasionally whilst they remain in the UK
Where the vessel is registered in the name of a non UK company /trust, an employee / member of the company / trust, it must be a non UK resident importing the vessel for their own use to meet these conditions. Non UK residents employed or otherwise engaged solely as crew members do not meet these conditions.
Written permission from the non UK registration holder must be made available to Customs/Border Force officers if requested.
This must confirm:
the non UK registration holder’s name and address including a contact phone number /email where they can be contacted while they are in the UK
that they are the registration holder or, if the vessel is registered to a non UK company / trust, they have written permission from the company/trust identifying their status or position within that company/trust and authority to act as registration holder
the date the non UK registration holder imported the vessel
that the vessel has been temporarily imported for the non UK registration holders own use
dates the non UK registration holder will be allowing you to use the vessel including your name, address and phone number/email
that the non UK registration holder will remain in the UK during any period you use the vessel
|can be used until the registration holder or their non UK representative leaves the UK up to a maximum of 18 months
Note: during these periods the vessel must predominately be for use by the non UK resident registration holder
For the purposes of relief the registration holder will be the person, company or trust in whose name the vessel is registered as the keeper or owner. This person, company or trust must be established outside the UK
|2||you hire it outside the UK to return to your home in the UK||must be re-exported or returned to the hire service in the UK|
|3||you hire it to leave the UK||must be re-exported outside the UK|
|4||you are employed and authorised by the non UK owner and private use is allowed for in your contract of employment (the owner does not need to be in the UK at the time of use)||can be used for up to a maximum of 18 months|
|5||you are preparing to transfer your normal home and emigrate outside the UK||must be re-exported within 3 months, please read paragraph 5.11|
Extending the period of visit, or deciding to live permanently in the UK
The periods set out in paragraphs 5.3 can be extended in exceptional circumstances within reasonable limits, for example to carry out running repairs necessary before the vessel can be used to leave the UK in section 5.15. If an extension is needed, submit a written request to the NTAS at the address in paragraph 5.8 and explain why it is needed.
If you decide to live permanently in the UK, you should write to NTAS to advise them and to give details of the vessel. The vessel will no longer be entitled to relief under Temporary Admission but it may qualify for an alternative relief for transfer of residence.
Find out more information on moving to the UK and TOR.
If at any time during a stay in the UK a vessel no longer qualifies for relief, the Temporary Admission Team must be contacted to advise them of the change in circumstances. It will then be necessary to complete a diversion entry on form C88 to pay the taxes/duties due. For more information on how to complete the declaration contact NTAS.
What records must I keep?
It will be necessary for you to provide the following if requested:
- proof that the vessel is registered outside the UK in the name of a non UK person
- if the vessel is not registered, proof that it is owned by a non UK person
- a passport/identity card for the person claiming relief to confirm their normal place of residence
- if a UK resident, details to support the claim to relief referred to in the table in paragraph 5.4
- when and where the vessel arrived in the UK
- when and where it leaves the UK or is otherwise disposed of
These records should be kept for 4 years after discharging relief.
Importation by crew members
If the vessel is imported before, or after, your arrival by persons employed or otherwise engaged solely as crew, for relief purposes the nationality of crew members and their country of residence would not need to be considered. However the crew should still phone the National Yachtline as required in paragraph 3.2. The crew must be able to provide your details and the date that you are due to join the vessel. Your use of the vessel will still be subject to the conditions explained in paragraph 5.1.
Temporarily leaving the UK whilst the yacht is under Temporary Admission
If you temporarily leave the UK but the vessel is to remain in the UK, the periods of relief referred to in paragraphs 5.3 and 5.4 (boxes 1, 4 and 5) can be extended for the time that you temporarily leave the UK. In these cases, you should write to the National Temporary Admission Section (NTAS) at the following address to confirm:
- that the vessel would not be used in your absence (or if it will be used by another entitled person, details of that person)
- where it will be kept
National Temporary Admission Section (NTAS)
National Clearance Hub
3 Stanley Street
Telephone 03000 583 736 or 03000 579 055 Email: NTAS@hmrc.gov.uk
What do I do if I decide to keep the vessel in the UK?
If you decide not to re-export the vessel and want to keep it in the UK, you will need to divert the vessel to home use as per the last paragraph of paragraph 5.6.
If you are transferring your residence to the UK, please read paragraph3.15
Can a UK resident claim relief on a vessel imported into the UK when they intend to emigrate ?
If you intend to emigrate outside the UK, you are permitted to temporarily import a vessel from outside the UK as long as it is re-exported within 3 months of its arrival. Evidence of your emigration will need to be provided if requested.
Does Temporary Admission apply to vessels imported for sale?
If you import a vessel for the purpose of sale, Temporary Admission cannot be claimed. However, relief under temporary admission may, be available if the vessel is imported for:
- satisfactory acceptance tests in connection with a sales contract
- approval where the consignee may decide to purchase after inspection
- if it is a used vessel, imported with a view to sale by auction
Find out more about these reliefs.
Can I scrap a vessel under Temporary Admission?
If you want to scrap your vessel you must contact NTAS at the address given in paragraph 5.8 to obtain approval before it is scrapped. You will need to provide full details of the vessel, including when it was imported and where it is intended to be scrapped. If approval is given, commercial evidence that the vessel has been scrapped and the value of the scrap produced must be sent to NTAS.
NTAS will arrange for a post clearance demand to be issued and to collect the customs duty and import VAT due. This will be based on the value and at the rate applicable to the scrap. If the vessel is scrapped without our approval you will be liable for payment on the full value and the duty rate applicable to the vessel when it was imported.
Do I need to report when re-exporting a vessel that is under Temporary Admission?
No formal customs declaration for re-export is required. The declaration for re-export is considered to be made and accepted when the vessel leaves the UK.
If an oral declaration was made upon export, you should present copy 2 of the inventory document to the customs authorities at the final place of departure from the UK. It will be stamped and returned. To confirm that the vessel has left the UK, send the stamped copy 2 of the inventory document to the NTAS at the address given in paragraph 5.9. If there is any difficulty in having the document stamped, phone the National Yachtline.
Will there be any Customs checks?
While the vessel remains in the UK, it will be subject to customs supervision. Visits or checks may be carried out by customs officials to make sure that the vessel and its use satisfy all the conditions for relief. If it is found that any conditions have not been met, duties and taxes may become due.
Can I carry out routine maintenance and repairs?
Repairs can be carried out to maintain the vessel in the same condition as imported.
If the vessel is temporarily imported for overhaul, refitting, renovation or refurbishment this cannot be carried out under Temporary Admission but relief from customs charges may be available for such work under Inward Processing Relief.
Leaving the UK
If you are leaving the UK you need to complete Part 2 of the formC1331
What should I do if the voyage is delayed or abandoned?
If there are any delays to your departure, or if any details on the notification change, you should contact Border Force by writing to the address that the original C1331 was sent. You should also inform the Border Force of abandoned voyages by endorsing part 2 of the C1331 with the words ‘voyage abandoned’ and then forward to the address that part 1 was sent.
Do I have to pay UK VAT on a vessel intended to be kept outside the UK?
If you are planning to buy a pleasure craft in the UK but intend to keep it permanently outside the UK, you may be eligible to purchase it VAT-free using the Sailaway Boat Scheme. The scheme does not apply to vessels which are for business use or which are exported in the normal way as cargo.
To obtain relief under this scheme, you will need to complete form VAT 436 which must be certified at the last point of departure from the UK. Sailaway boats supplied for export outside the EU (VAT Notice 703/2) explains the scheme in more detail and describes the additional procedures that you will need to follow.
In all cases, Border Force require prior notice of departure.
Can I take duty free stores on board?
Yes. You can load duty free stores as long as you are going on an entitled journey. Whilst the goods are duty-free, if used on a private voyage, they’ll still be liable for VAT. You can find further information, including the definition of an entitled journey, in Notice 69A: Aircraft and ship stores.
Are there any immigration requirements when I depart from the UK?
You need to notify a Border Force officer only if you are carrying someone who has no right of abode in the UK. In these circumstances you must tell a Border Force officer in advance.
To report a vessel’s arrival
Postal address for C1331 forms
United Kingdom Border Force
Freight Clearance Centre
Lord Warden Square