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The European TEN-T Coordinators for the Motorways of the Sea and the Atlantic and North Sea-Mediterranean Corridors have organised an online joint workshop on smart and sustainable maritime transport in the Atlantic and North Sea region post-Brexit over two days next week.

‘Ensuring connectivity between Ireland and continental EU post-Brexit: the role of maritime links’ next Thursday 22 April from 9am to noon Irish time will see representatives from the ports, shipping, business and logistics sectors come together for the first of exciting panel discussions.

This first half-day panel will focus on the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s maritime links to date, while the second will examine what the future holds for Ireland’s maritime connections to continental Europe.

Opening remarks at the event will be delivered by Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton. To register for this panel, click HERE.

Then on Friday 23 April, the joint working group on ports will meet from 9am to 12.30pm Irish time for three panel discussions focussed on digitalisation, greening and hinterland connections of ports in the Atlantic and North Sea basins. To register for this second panel, click HERE.

Both events are co-organised by the TEN-T European Coordinators for Motorways of the Sea, Professor Kurt Bodewig; the TEN-T North Sea – Mediterranean Corridor, Professor Peter Balazs; and the TEN-T Atlantic Corridor, Professor Carlo Secchi. Find the full agenda on the IMDO website.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, there have been many questions that have caused confusion and uncertainty for the leisure marine sector both in the UK and in the EU27. Arguably, the biggest has been around the VAT status of recreational craft at the end of the transition period.

In an unprecedented declaration of unity, the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), European Boating Industry (EBI), European Boating Association (EBA), British Marine (BM) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) joined forces to provide clarification on VAT and customs for recreational boating companies and users. Showing the value of cooperation and membership organisations, the five organisations have taken the exceptional decision to release this guidance to members and non-members.

The group put forward the key scenarios affecting boaters and are pleased to confirm that the Commission has now responded, validating the interpretation of the guidance and how VAT should be applied under the various examples. This follows a push led by the EBI with the European Commission to provide this important clarification. For the original document, please contact the participating organisations.

The positive confirmation of the scenarios should now also be recognised by each EU country in their dealings under this matter. Failure to do so could result in formal complaints being made to the Commission. Further clarification will be sought from the European Commission on the documentation required and interpretation of the establishment of “person established in the customs territory of the Union”.

VAT issues post-Brexit: FAQS

The following acronyms are used:

TPE = The time at which the transition period ended – 31 December 2020, 23:00 UTC

VPS = VAT Paid Status: i.e. in free circulation

EU28 = EU before TPE, i.e. including UK

EU27 = EU after TPE, i.e. excluding UK

GB = England / Scotland / Wales excluding Northern Ireland

TA = Temporary Admission

RGR = Returned Goods Relief

UCC = Union Customs Code

The Union Customs Code referred to within this document can be found here.

Scenario 

Impact on VAT Paid Status (VPS) 

Scenario 1 

  • GB owned/registered pleasure craft 
  • In free circulation (VPS) within EU28 pre-TPE and has supporting documentary evidence) 
  • Within EU27 as at TPE 

 EU VAT Paid Status 

The boat retained EU VPS status. 

Scenario 2 

  • GB owned/pleasure craft 
  • In free circulation (VPS) in EU28 pre-TPE (and has documentary evidence) 
  • Within an EU27 as at TPE 
  • Boat leaves EU27 (for GB or elsewhere) and then returns to the EU27 

 RGR & EU VAT Paid Status 

Boat is eligible to RGR on return to the EU27 and will have EU VPS, provided that all the conditions established in Article 203 UCC are fulfilled and, for VAT, that the boat is imported by the same person who exported it. 

Scenario 3 

  • EU27 owned/registered pleasure craft 
  • EU28 VPS pre-TPE (and has documentary evidence) 
  • In EU27 as at TPE 
  • VAT paid on original new purchase in GB a number of years ago 
  • Subsequent ownership and location within the EU27 

 EU VAT Paid Status 

The boat keeps its Union status and it is therefore in free circulation with EU VPS. 


Scenario 4 

  • GB owned/registered pleasure craft 
  • Business owned 
  • EU VPS before TPE 
  • In EU27 as at TPE 
  • Kept and used within the EU27 
  • Long-term lease to individual for private use 
  • GB VAT accounted for on annual lease charge 

 EU VAT Paid Status 

According to the information provided, the boat has Union status and keeps it unless the boat is taken outside the customs territory of the Union. 

Scenario 5 

  • GB owned/registered pleasure craft 
  • Owner is ordinarily resident in GB 
  • Using boat within EU27 on TA 
  • Owner has an EU27 holiday property where they keep the boat moored (in their name) 

 Temporary admission 

A person is established in the customs territory of the Union if he/she fulfils the conditions established in Article 5(31) UCC. If the person is not established in the customs territory of the Union, then he/she can declare the boat for temporary admission if it has non-Union customs status. 

 

Scenario 6 

  • GB or EU27 owned/pleasure craft 
  • In free circulation within EU28 pre-TPE (and has documentary evidence) 
  • No evidence of having been in the EU27 previously; or 
  • Ownership has changed since it was last in the EU27 In GB as at TPE 

EU VAT Paid Status Lost  

Article 203 UCC requires evidence of a previous export to the UK. The Commission guidance indicates that, in the absence of an export declaration, evidence of the previous movement of the boat to the UK is required. If the boat has never been in EU27 it is impossible to provide evidence of movement to the UK. 

Scenario 7 

  • EU27 owned/pleasure craft 
  • In free circulation within EU28 pre-TPE (and has documentary evidence) 
  • Had previously been evidenced as being within the EU27 within the last three years 
  • In GB as at TPE  
  • Same owner who brought it out of EU27, returned to the EU27 within three years of departure 

? Documentation required 

It is for the Member State to decide whether the conditions for RGR is possible (Article 203 UCC) are met. 

Article 203 UCC requires evidence of a previous export to the UK. The Commission guidance indicates that, in the absence of an export declaration, evidence of the previous movement of the boat to the UK is required. Member State authorities must therefore assess whether that satisfactory evidence can be provided in this scenario. 

Scenario 8 

  • GB owned/pleasure craft 
  • In free circulation within EU28 pre-TPE (and has documentary evidence) 
  • Had previously been evidenced as being within the EU27 within the last three years 
  • In GB as at TPE 
  • Same owner who brought it out of EU27, returned to the EU27 within three years of departure 

? Documentation required 

It is for the Member State to decide whether the conditions for RGR (Article 203 UCC) are met. Article 203 UCC requires evidence of a previous export to the UK. The Commission guidance indicates that, in the absence of an export declaration, evidence of the previous movement of the boat to the UK is required. Member State authorities must therefore assess whether that satisfactory evidence can be provided in this scenario. 


Commenting on the collaboration, Philip Easthill, Secretary General of the EBI, says; “We are delighted to have received the responses from the Commission that companies and boaters urgently need. Given the impact of Brexit on businesses and supply chains, clarity on VAT for second-hand boats is highly important. The cooperation of EBI with our partners has been key and we will continue to advocate for clarity on VAT issues through our channels at EU level.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, said; "Collaboratively working together with other leisure marine industry bodies is a highly successful way of collectively garnering results, and this recent clarity received on VAT issues post-Brexit will greatly benefit British Marine members and the UK leisure marine industry. The answers to these scenarios will be welcomed in particular by UK boat retailers and brokers to assist in maintaining a healthy trade of second-hand boats across the UK and EU.”

Udo Kleinitz, Secretary General of ICOMIA, added; “The industry is affected by the changes in VAT regime through loss of boaters expenditure in marinas and tourism. Our members have asked us for support on this matter which is why the collaboration with EBI, BM and the user organisations helps in raising the profile and relevance of the topic with the applicable agencies.”

Published in Boat Sales
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Two ex-presidents of the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) have been tasked with carrying out a study on the feasibility of an Irish Sea crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland.

As industry publication New Civil Engineer reports, Douglas Oakervee and Gordon Masterson have been charged by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with evaluating the various proposals.

These include an “underground roundabout” beneath the Isle of Man that would connect separate tunnels Northern Ireland, Scotland and England — an idea inspired by a similar project in the Faroe Islands.

Another proposal for a Northern Ireland-Scotland tunnel suggests that it could help create a new “capital cities axis” stretching from Dublin to Edinburgh.

The possibility of a road-rail link between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain returned to the agenda earlier this year following Brexit, with one of the options mooted being a a “floating underwater tunnel” along the sea bed, as previously discussed by our own WM Nixon.

Tagged under

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Marine have welcomed HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announcement of a six-month extension to the one-year grace period for Returned Goods Relief (RGR) previously put in place by the British Government.

The news yesterday (Thursday 25 March) extends the grace period for RGR until 30 June 2022 for all goods including recreational craft, regardless of when they left the UK, and follows representations from the RYA and British Marine asking for a three-year transition period.

Both organisations have argued that the one-year grace period effective from the end of the Brexit transition period, in respect of the three-year condition for RGR, was not sufficient — highlighting such issues as pandemic travel restrictions, Schengen Area immigration rules, insurance and the length of the sailing season.

This issue was central to a letter that the RYA and British Marine sent to the chief executive of HMRC in February, calling for a holistic approach to addressing the post-Brexit issues impacting on recreational boat owners and the British leisure marine industry.

Howard Pridding, the RYA’s director of external affairs, said: “The HMRC announcement is timely, as we have seen additional concerns from members about the new restrictions on leaving the UK announced this week.

"We will continue our constructive dialogue with HMRC on all outstanding post-Brexit issues, including the repatriation of boats that have not been in the UK under their current ownership, and look forward to receiving a full response from the HMRC chief executive on the points that we have raised.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, added: “This collaborative work with the RYA shows that together we can better influence matters affecting the leisure marine sector and boaters.

“Whilst we requested and set out a strong case for a three-year RGR transition period, the six-month extension is welcomed.

“However, given the current restrictions on international travel, we hope HMRC will demonstrate flexibility to the extension to allow all UK boat owners to return their boats in a safe weather window. This flexibility would also be welcomed by UK boat retailers and brokers in order to keep fulfilling the rising demand for second-hand boats in the UK.”

Published in Boat Sales

British Marine and the RYA have written a joint letter to the head of Britain’s HM Revenue & Customs to call for a holistic approach to the various issues facing private pleasure boaters, the second-hand market and the wider industry post-Brexit.

According to Marine Industry News, the letter covers such issues as the ‘VAT trap’ for British boaters, repatriation of vessels as pandemic restrictions continue, and the status of and reporting requirements for boats lying in Northern Ireland waters.

The two organisations are specifically calling for an extension of the one-year grace period for Returned Goods Relief to three years, on account of the various difficulties boaters currently face in regard to moving their vessels around Europe.

Howard Pridding of the RYA said: “Following months of dialogue with officials and exchanges with ministers at HMRC, we are now appealing directly to the chief executive of HMRC to bring coordination to urgently address the outstanding issues and deliver clear and unambiguous guidance that we can share with our members.”

The move comes in the same week that the Cruising Association launched its campaign for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the 90-day Schengen visa system, which would help preserve British cruisers’ traditional routes to the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Published in Cruising
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NI’s Agriculture Minister has cited “practical difficulties” with the Northern Ireland Protocol in his decision to order a halt on construction of post-Brexit port inspection facilities.

According to Politico, acting DAERA Minister Gordon Lyons has also told NI ports not to levy charges on goods brought into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

However, the order issued yesterday (Friday 26 February) does not apply to checks at existing infrastructure repurposed for the new trade regime since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

Lyons’s party the DUP is currently mounting a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which places a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea between GB and NI.

Politico has more on the story HERE.

British cruising boaters are in the middle of a “perfect storm”, with visa issues just the latest ill wind to blow, according to a leading voice in the Cruising Association.

As Marine Industry News reports, the CA’s Regulations and Technical Services (RATS) committee chair Robin Barron says the new post-Brexit visa regime for Britons entering the EU — which allow for a 90-day stay in any 180-day period — “simply doesn’t work for cruising yachts”.

He elaborates: “My worry is that second-home owners — who find themselves in the same position — will lobby successfully to have an extension, but the Cruising Association needs to make sure that any development includes people in boats and that a visa status change isn’t dependent on having a second address.”

Baron adds that he is looking at ways to make reciprocal arrangements happen within the Schengen Area.

“We’re trying to raise localised support, from marinas and other marine trades in target countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece,” he says. “We’re hoping they’ll help pressure their MPs to grant extended visas.”

Meanwhile, the so-called ‘VAT trap’ threatens to tie up countless numbers of British-owned boats in foreign marinas as the costs to bring them home run into the thousands.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruising

Fishing crews wishing to access UK waters must complete an application form made available online by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

The application covers access to the UK EEZ (12-200 nautical miles only) and/or the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Northern Ireland.

Among the strict criteria for acceptance is having a valid IMO number for any vessel 12 metres or greater in length.

For further details, and to download the application form, see the Gov.ie website HERE.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

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
Tagged under

“All sorts of strange things” will emerge this year for UK sailors in EU waters as post-Brexit issues remain to be ironed out.

As Sailing Today reports, RYA cruising manager Stuart Carruthers has outlined some harsh truths for British boat owners who had been used to easy cruising excursions beyond home shores.

“As an example, the whole idea of taking a sabbatical in the Mediterranean, living on your boat, which you’ve bought with your pension, has just disappeared out of the window now that we are subject to Schengen Area visitor visa rules. That is just one post-Brexit reality,” he said.

Meanwhile, EU member states appear to be taking a less than harmonious approach to recognition of British boats’ VAT paid status, as the Cruising Association’s Brexit spokesperson Roger Bickerstaff has warned.

“We’re going to be seeing different countries taking different views,” he said.

Carruthers also noted: “The status of boats in Northern Ireland is also unclear — are they classed as UK goods, Union goods, will they be able to enter Great Britain VAT-free?”

Sailing Today has much more on the story HERE.

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