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HMRC internal manual

VAT Sailaway Boat Scheme

General principles

Definition of a sailaway boat

A “sailaway boat” is defined as a vessel which is:

  • to be delivered to the purchaser or their authorised skipper within the European Community (EC), and
  • to be exported under its own power to a destination outside the VAT territory of the EC.

Both new and second-hand boats may be sold under the scheme.

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Who can use the scheme?

The scheme can only be used for the private purchase of a boat by overseas visitors. An overseas visitor is a person normally resident outside the UK. The vessel must be exported from the EC within 6 months of the date of delivery - this is normally the date the vessel leaves the supplier’s premises. The sale of vessels for commercial purposes is not permitted under this scheme.

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Direct exports

If a supplier arranges delivery of a boat, either on a trailer or by using a skipper employed by him, to a destination outside the EC, the Sailaway Boat Scheme must not be used. The supply of a boat in these circumstances is a direct export and should be treated as set out in VAT Notice 703 - Exports of goods from the United Kingdom.

In a direct export, the complete transaction from supply to exportation is under the control of the UK supplier.

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Parts and accessories

Parts or accessories may be supplied to the customer under the Retail Export Scheme. Guidance can be found