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What Irish Boaters Need to Know About Buying Vessels From & Cruising In Great Britain

9th February 2021
What Irish Boaters Need to Know About Buying Vessels From & Cruising In Great Britain

Some Irish boat-buyers may be able to purchase new or second-hand vessels from the UK free of VAT.

But for most yacht-shoppers, Brexit has pushed the cost of buying much higher — just as it’s done for the used car market.

In response to a number of queries from concerned readers, Afloat.ie understands that the UK’s Sailaway boats scheme could be an option for some buyers, provided they will sail or motor their pleasure craft from the UK to Ireland and will keep it permanently outside the UK.

This scheme is not applicable to boats purchased for commercial use or transported as cargo. For these and all over new vessels, Customs Duty (including import VAT at 21%) will apply.

An exception exists for some second-hand vessels where the UK VAT was paid before the end of the Brexit transition period.

If an individual in Ireland bought a second-hand boat in Great Britain, on which UK VAT had been paid, and the deal was completed and the boat brought to Ireland before 11pm on 31 December 2020, it is Afloat.ie's understanding that the buyer will not owe Irish VAT on the purchase.

All purchases since that date are subject to Irish VAT, however.

It's also understood that second-hand boats purchased from Northern Ireland are not subject to additional VAT if proof can be shown that the vessel has paid VAT and had been owned by an NI resident. But this would not apply to any vessel imported from the UK through Northern Ireland.

Online customs charges are another potential complication for Irish shoppers browsing the UK boat marketplace.

While the Brexit trade deal agreed in December exempts goods made in the UK from customs charges in Ireland, duty will be payable on many products that have been imported into the UK from elsewhere.

Irish VAT will be payable regardless on all packages valued at €22 or more (including postage) until 30 June 2021, after which VAT will be paying on all goods entering the EU irrespective of value.

Afloat.ie understands that the future tax status of boats now depends on where they were as the Brexit transition period ended.

Those in Ireland at that time, regardless of nationality, retain the status of “Union goods” and can — nominally at least — move freely in EU waters.

Those that were in the UK, however, now face numerous restrictions on future movement — not limited to new VAT liability.

Boats in Northern Ireland are for now recognised as having both UK status and “union status” — a move which averted a potential influx of visiting boats and concerned owners into Irish marinas over the Christmas period.

Businesses seeking to import new or second-hand boats from the UK to Ireland will have to register for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number and complete various customs declarations.

Rules for Irish boaters cruising to British waters (and vice versa) are not yet as clearly defined.

While there has been no change for those cruising between Ireland and Northern Ireland, boaters crossing from Ireland to Great Britain (and vice versa) are strongly advised to keep proof of VAT-paid status on board at all times, as well as complete form C1331 for HM Revenue & Customs.

All arrivals in Great Britain from Ireland (except Northern Ireland) must also hoist flat Q on first arrival and keep it flying until clearance is granted via the National Yachtline (charges may apply).

Temporary admission of a UK vessel for private use into Ireland (including spare parts for minor repairs or servicing) is allowed “without formality” for a maximum of 18 months.

Sailboats and equipment may also be imported temporarily for sports events, but paperwork (such as an ATA Carnet) may apply.

Update 9/2/21: This story was updated to clarify a point around VAT liability on second-hand boats purchased from Great Britain before the end of the Brexit transition period. Thanks to Norman Kean for his assistance.

Published in Boat Sales
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